Pages from the Hartle Playbook

A few weeks ago I was visiting with some of my cousins whom I haven’t seen in a while.  They were mentioning how they had ben following my blog and found it so interesting.  Even though I have been blind for several years, many of my family members still seem to find the whole blindness thing fascinating and always have lots of questions for me, especially now that I am married to a blind man, and we live 1800 plus miles away from most of my family in a very different environment than the one in which I was raised.  During this last visit, Jesse and I were asked a lot of questions like how we go grocery shopping, how we get around to places, and how we organize things in our house.  WE get asked these and many other kinds of similar questions quite often, and try to do our best to educate people and help them see that we are just a normal family who just happen to do things a little differently.

For a while now, I have been reluctant to have my blog be a blog about us and our lives as blind people.  I figured readers would get enough of a glimpse into this world through the examples or experiences I shared in my posts about teaching blind children.  Besides, I figured no one would really find a blog about our daily lives as blind people interesting, especially as there are other similar blogs out there. But at the urging of my family and several followers, I have finally decided to focus a bit more on our everyday lives as blind people.  So, from time to time, I will share “Pages from the Hartle Playbook”.  These posts will be focused specifically on how we deal with everyday life as blind people, or in short, make it on our own playground.  I hope you enjoy them.  Please let me know what you think.

This week we celebrated a few little milestones in our home.  We celebrated our third wedding anniversary, and we bought a house.  Ok, so we won’t officially own the house for a few more weeks, but we got the official ok that it was ours and that everything had gone through this week.  I’m not sure what the customary gift for third anniversaries is but I think a house is a pretty good one.  (Good luck trying to top that one next year sweetheart.)  Anyway, whether we like to admit it or not, blindness plays into many aspects of our lives.  One of the main reasons we bought this house was because of its location and proximity to public transportation and other locations.  Since neither one of us can drive, this was a huge factor.  WE also wanted something outside of the city with a yard that was bigger than a postage stamp, not a row house, and where you could actually hear birds instead of sirens.  One of the biggest challenges for us was the fact that most of the kinds of areas where we would like to live do not have public transportation, or if they do, it is quite limited.  The other problem was that most of the newer homes are in these neighborhoods, so trying to find something that is newer and not needing a lot of fixing up is a little challenging, and when you are lucky enough to do so, it’s usually way out of a reasonable price range as the prices of houses in Maryland are still outrageous!

After quite a while of looking, we finally found something we think will work out well for us.  WE found a great neighborhood in the county.  It will take Jesse a little longer to travel to and from work, (about an hour and 15 mins.—yes that sounds like a lot but it’s about par for a major metropolis area like Baltimore and Washington D.C., even if you drive) Right now we only live about four miles from his office and it takes him almost an hour to get home most days anyway because of traffic in the city.  He will have the option of taking the lightrail which will speed things up a bit.  WE are about a 10-15 minute walk from the light rail station, and there is a bus stop for a major route at the bottom of our street which runs about every ten minutes daily.  This bus route also goes to the lightrail, and along the main downtown route of the area to which we are moving, making grocery stores, pharmacies, the library, mall, and several other stores and restaurants very accessible.  There is even a county cab company which charges less than Yellow cab does in the city, so this will come in handy on rainy days, or when we can’t take a bus or the light rail somewhere.  The best part is that the house has a full-size yard, is in a safe, quiet neighborhood, and has been completely remodeled  like new.  WE really lucked out and feel very blessed to have found it.  Hopefully it will live up to our expectations.

Two weekends ago, we went up to the neighborhood and just walked around for a couple hours scoping out the area (what sighted people would probably consider a “drive by”.)   I think we should call it a walk-about.  We found where the bus stops were, where the best places to cross since the main road is quite a busy one, located land marks like how many streets and drive ways we cross from the main road down our street to the house, and checked out what businesses were right there along the main road within a six block or so span.  WE even found this great deli for lunch which we probably would have never gone to on our own, but since it was close and we Swere hungry, we stopped in.

Since we can’t read the signs on the businesses, we have to ask a passer-by to tell us what is near-by, or else go in and find out.  I should say we did have some idea of what was around since we take the light rail to there a lot to go to the mall, and we did drive around with the realtor and ask her to tell us what was near-by, but it’s a little different when you are actually having to walk it and find things yourself.  .  WE do this kind of thing a lot when we try out a new area for the first time and it’s actually kind of fun.  It’s like putting a puzzle together because we figure out different routes of how to get to something, or get little pieces of information that we string together to make a map in our minds of what the area looks like.  Sometime I’ll have to tell you about our trips to NYC, Bar Harbor, Canada, or Disney World as the same strategies and skills can work just about anywhere.  .  Some may think it takes a lot of time or worry that you are only covering a small area at a time, or think that it would just be easier to have a sighted person always take you somewhere, but we actually really enjoy it.  It ends up being great time together too, and like I said, it’s actually kind of fun.

Anyway, we are pretty excited for this new chapter for our family.  I know there will be many more adventures to come and lots of great blindness stories I’m sure.  So there you have it, a page out of the Hartle playbook.

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