"That's not a SKIN leg!"
From across a cobblestone alley, I hear the most creative (and cutest) take on my prosthetic leg.
It comes from a 4-year-old girl with a shiny bob haircut. She's pointing. At me.
It may be September, but it's still shorts season.
My friend Jasmine and I have just stepped out of Fezziwig's Sweet Shoppe. I'm holding a drippy, green cup of mint chip ice cream. Jasmine, next to me, holds salted caramel.
I walk cautiously over the cobbles, even more so now that the girl's whole family is watching. The little girl follows us with her gaze. Jaw dropped. Eyes locked on my Genium.
"Do you want to see it?" I ask as we get closer.
Suddenly she looks down at her sandals. Embarrassed. Or maybe just shy.
"It's ok," I say. "You're right. It isn't a skin leg. It's a robot leg. It's called a prosthesis." She nods. I ask her if she likes my painted toe nails, and her eyes shift to the purple polish.
We chat with her family for a few seconds more. Then Jasmine and I continue on our way.
Not all legs are skin legs.
Although my back is to her, I'm pretty sure that little girl is still watching. And digesting all she's learned.
The next mile is at Philly Honeyfest where friends Davey and Carol are demonstrating how to extract honey.
Davey and Carol are old friends of mine. They're also local beekeepers. Really local. They live in South Philly, my old stomping grounds, just blocks from the Italian Market. My house had a garden, but theirs has a roof deck -- where they've installed 4 beehives.
My friend Jen and I watch as they insert a hive frame into a huge urn called an extractor. Davey turns the crank, and a syrupy stream of gold oozes from the spout.
Carol hands out popsicle sticks. We use them to catch the honey.
It's as sweet -- and as raw -- as it gets! Fresh from the hive, there are chunks of honeycomb floating in it, along with a few scattered bee legs. I get the feeling there are a few "ampu-bees" back at the hive :)
Just then, a wide-eyed little boy looks up at me with a huge toothless smile. I'm expecting a comment about my robot leg, but that's not what impresses him. It's that I know the beekeepers!
I offer him the honey in my hand. "Wanna try?"
Without missing a beat, he sticks out his tongue and laps it right off the end of my finger. Yep, we're "bee-ing" friendly.
In case you're wondering what roof bees make, well, here's the final product. 100% Pure. 100% Raw.
|100% Made on a roof!|
A few miles later, Mom and I grab breakfast with two of our good friends, Zita and Mattie.
For my birthday, Zita brings me a copy of Pantsuit Nation, a book filled with essays and photos from the Facebook group of the same name. (Maybe you've heard of it?) While the Facebook page originated to support Hillary Clinton, the need to celebrate our differences is even stronger now.
Pantsuit Nation is beautiful book. I highly recommend it.
|Especially pages 190-191. Go Zita!|
Being ourselves is about more than explaining prosthetics to kids or raising bees on a city roof. It's about being who we are, however it might look and wherever it might take us.
I'm not afraid to show my prosthetic leg, or talk about it, or answer the many questions that come my way. But I'm self-conscious too. I haven't walked well in months. When people look at me, I hope they see more than my gait. I hope they see that I'm living my life. A good life. Challenging and complex, yet rich and rewarding.
Kind of like harvesting Roof Honey.
So BEE YOU. There's strength in diversity.
And you never know the sweetness it might bring.
Thanks Jen & Zita for the photos. For more beekeeping adventures, check out Davey and Carol's blog here!