If I ever meet Kevin Connolly, and I hope I do, I’ll probably stare at him.
Just being honest.
See, Kevin was born without legs.
Is that an amazing picture or what?
In his memoir, Double Take: A Memoir, one story Kevin shares is how he turned the tables on those who stared. The idea was brilliant. Kevin uses a skateboard to get around instead of a wheelchair or prosthetic legs, so his vantage point is unique to begin with. At one point he became so frustrated with the staring, he decided to use his camera to stare back. He’d skate around and, while looking the other way, he’d snap a picture of someone he could sense was staring. The results were The Rolling Exhibition.
Double Take: A Memoir, is Kevin’s life story…even though he’s only 26 years old. “Originally I didn’t want to write a memoir,” he says in the Epilogue. “The genre felt too loaded for me; I whined and griped about how unqualified I was to write a retrospective on such a short life.” I love his honesty. And I’m glad he fought through the insecurities to write it anyway.
If you’re familiar with my blog, you know I also have experience with being stared at. At some point or another, though, those of us with physical differences realize that our parents dealt with the staring way before we did. This realization was powerful for Kevin. As he showed his photos to his parents, his dad said, “We’ve been seeing that your whole life.” His dad also said it was “pretty tough to keep myself from smacking some of these folks over the years.” A couple months ago I had a very similar conversation with my own dad. Parents of children with obvious physical differences are a rare and inspiration breed.
Kevin also speaks to the reality of feeling “normal” only within our circle of friends. Especially those of us with obvious physical differences. “Unlike me, many people are able to hide their differences from the world. Whether it’s not getting on the dance floor because you have wobbly knees or wearing turtlenecks to cover that scar on your collarbone, you can exercise some sort of control over how you are perceived by the outside world. But the fact that I don’t have legs is pretty hard to hide. Even if I wore prosthetics, I still couldn’t hide the fact that I’m missing these limbs. Only when I’m inside my circle of family and friends is my disability so familiar that it’s normal,” Kevin writes. Kevin is so right. It stil amazes me when my family and friends say they don’t notice my arm is missing. But, I believe them. And I appreciate it.
Double Take: A Memoir, is a well-written, captivating story of one young man’s life so far. Kevin’s stories about his family, his skiing experiences, his world-traveling, his love found and lost (and found and lost again), all from the unique perspective of having no legs, are powerful. If you’re a parent or a friend of someone with a difference, you’ll love Kevin’s story. And if you are a person with a difference, you’ll identify completely with his experience.
(Full disclosure: There’s some strong language in the book, so it really is for adults. Pretty sure it’d be rated R if it was a movie. Wait…can I buy the movie right to this??)
Here’s a fantastic interview with Kevin. Also, Meredith hits on him. Seemed more awkward than if she had just said he was an inspiration. Anywho…