I was in a hotel lobby in Rochester, New York. It was the spring of 2012, more than eight months after my ALS diagnosis. There were a few steps to get to the front desk, because someone thought the aesthetic improvement outweighed the inconvenience. To accommodate luggage―among other things―they'd installed a motorized lift, a black metal cage to traverse the rise. I approached the stairs pulling my suitcase behind me. I didn’t notice the lift; it didn’t occur to me to seek an alternative route. I climbed those four or five steps like it was a mountain. I thought it’d be easy to drag my rolling suitcase up one step at a time; I figured no one would notice my deliberate pace. The woman at the counter saw what I didn’t and called out to the man she saw struggling with the stairs. “Do you need a hand, sir?” she asked as she’d surely repeated many times before. “I’m OK,” I shot back, as would become more routine in the future. I just wanted to be invisible in that moment; I wanted to be like the others, like I used to. I don’t want to be different; the person I know isn’t different.
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