I never used to be much of a shopper, but now: I love it.
I love popping into town to get something and having a browse while I'm there. Because I can. And because it is so close to home I can go for 5 minutes or a couple of hours, whatever I decide.
Usually I don't buy much. Sometimes I do.
I can wheel myself, decide where I go, what I look at.
I can be one of the crowd.
I can do my own thing amongst a host of people - all doing their own thing.
The simultaneous feeling of freedom and belonging as I pull a handbrake turn outside a shop where something has caught my eye is beautiful.
Sometimes I will browse for longer, enjoying the smooth flooring, wide aisles, and (occasionally) music. It's hard to explain if you've never been in a rigid framed, lightweight wheelchair...but the absolute control over the chair - how it responds to the lightest touch, the precision, style and smoothness of each movement...even stopping to look at a tupperware box can feel (and quite possibly look) like a well rehearsed dance move. I confess that sometimes I feel a flash of pity for people not on wheels.
And when I stop to eat a Greggs sausage roll - I have my own seat. No need to wipe down a damp bench to perch on.
True, I often have to ask to be passed things from high shelves, or have aisles unblocked, or take a detour around something that feet can ignore but wheels can't, but that is just how it is. It doesn't stop me loving my trip.
Perhaps this is why, when I am shopping, I find the 'oh you are so brave' and 'it must be so difficult' comments so....disorientating. My world of freedom colliding with another's perception, my brain stumbling over things I can't quite understand.
When I shop, I am not being brave. I am living.