I know we’ve only been friends for one blog post at this point, but I wanted to introduce you to someone (or something, rather) very special to me. See that beauty in the above photo? That’s my guitar, which I’ve named Emerson Lee. I bought him on a whim two years ago when I was 18. My parents were skeptical and didn’t believe that their limb-lacking daughter could learn to play, so I ended up just getting a cheap 80-dollar model from Amazon. com. Since no one in my family has ever played guitar and I didn’t want to go for lessons because I was scared they wouldn’t take me seriously, I bought several books and instruction manuals to learn on my own. So began my journey of teaching myself how to play the lovely and complicated instrument.
I bet you’re wondering right about now: why guitar? Why not something you can play with one hand, like a trumpet or a harmonica? To be honest, I don’t exactly know. I have some theories, though. Part of me has always strived to prove myself and make sure everyone knows how capable I am. Another reason probably had to do with some pent-up anger at a “joke” I overheard a high school classmate say. She thought it would be funny to pose the question “how does Caitlin play Guitar Hero?” to her friends. The thing that bothered me about that was not that she was making light of my half-arm situation (I mean, I joke about it all the time). I was more insulted by the fact that she was assuming my inability to perform a task I could actually do pretty well. As a stubborn and slightly crazy woman, I resolved to prove to myself that I could not only play a virtual guitar but I could also play a real one. That whole incident certainly played a big part in motivating me to learn guitar.
But the biggest reason I took up playing that oh-so-wonderful six-string, if you want me to be truthful, had to do with laziness. It’s no secret that I’m a huge procrastinator. I tend to avoid doing any sort of homework until five minutes before it’s due. It’s horrible of me, I know, but old habits die hard. Anyway, guitar served as a nice diversion during midterm and finals week. I perused every guitar book I bought and watched all the instructional YouTube videos I found. And before long, I was strumming that guitar like I was Taylor Swift.
How exactly do I play, you ask? Well, I hope the picture on top gives you a good idea of it. I use a left-handed guitar and basically tape a pick to my short arm so that I can strum. It’s pretty simple, actually. And now that I’m a guitar girl, I can’t even imagine how I spent so many years of my life without playing. The feeling I get when I play is the most amazing feeling in the world. I feel strong. I’m not the pitiable little cripple that some people consider me. I play an instrument that even someone with twice as many hands would find difficult to teach him/herself. I am strong. Regardless of what anyone says or thinks about me, I have my music and all it represents to back me up.
P.S. In case you were wondering, the handsome man in the photo above is my awesome-beyond-words boyfriend Chris 🙂
One thing I’d really like to explore and open up about is my disability. I’ve never been one hundred percent comfortable discussing it in a public setting (mostly out of the fear that I’ll be judged). But I’m 20 now, and I think it’s about time I get over my insecurities and start to live my life on my own terms. For anyone who doesn’t know, I’m a one-armed girl. I was born without a left forearm, though I’m quick to point out that it doesn’t really limit me in all the ways you would think. I get along just fine. Of course, I’m not saying that it’s always an easy thing to deal with. I don’t think I need to mention that I’m just a normal girl and have my share of insecurities. But my half-arm is a part of me, and I want to be able to embrace that. Hence, this blog has come into existence.
So there you have it. If you’re reading this, thanks for embarking on this challenging journey with me.