I can’t drive. It’s a choice I made before I was restricted by the limitations of my vision, but either way, I can’t.
I can’t dress myself– or so I tell my friends, and they clink their glasses to mine and say to hell with the edicts of fashion. They don’t understand the literal restriction of my “can’t”, though. I work in fashion and I want to look like I feel, but I can’t understand the shapes that fit on other shapes, and I can’t make out the difference in colors. Those are minor symptoms of a bigger problem– I don’t know what I look like. I can’t wrap my mind around it.
I can’t have children. It’s a choice, I say, because I made the choice aeons before any doctor told me I couldn’t. I don’t always listen to my doctors, and I push my boundaries where I find them, but in this case, I can’t risk the damage to a life. I just can’t.
I can’t write about sex, but I don’t know why. I talk about sex a lot, in person– it’s an important part of the human experience with horizons so vast it makes the sun look as small as a the flickering spark of a lighter. Still, if I manage to write something, I can’t share it.
I can’t keep any plant alive, except a money tree– and the art of Jello-making eludes me.
I can’t swim.
I can’t move past spelling errors in my own writing or do math without a piece of paper in my hand. I can’t hear lyrics, or most sounds, unless they direct themselves to me.
I can’t sit next to a dog without sweating. I can’t straighten a painting on a wall. I can’t lie even when someone needs me to.
I can’t sleep without finishing the book I started, or straightening my blankets just right, or checking my pantry. I can’t.
I can’t add color to the sketches I create, or hold a rhythm, or pirouette. I can’t climb a mountain without stopping to cry from the pain in my chest. I can’t walk through a park without panicking at the open. I can’t search for dinosaur fossils in the ground without panicking at being trapped.
I can’t go on a trip without a car-full of belongings and weeks of preparation.
I can’t speak fluently in any other language than my native tongue.
I can’t tell a story in a consecutive order, or answer a question completely and fully unless it is asked of me. I’m not trying to avoid truth, but my brain simply doesn’t function in that way.
I can’t read upside down, and often I can’t even recognize upside down words as English. I can’t see in the brightness. I can’t think in the cold.
I can’t forget horrible things.
I can’t wear ankle boots because my ankles are too tiny, and I can’t fix a toilet no matter what is wrong with it.
I just can’t.
There are people who can do these things. They aren’t impossible, I’ve witnessed them in action. My husband drives effortlessly, my parents speak dozens of languages, and I have best friends who have climbed the tallest mountains in the world.
Of course, there are a great many things I can do, and a greater list of things I think I might be able to do– so I celebrate them, and I do them, and I rawr them to the world.
It’s my little way of stamping out the “can’t”s.