My friend looked at me and said,

“Jenny, we’re going downtown this weekend. I’ll drive, but since you’re coming with us, I was wondering if you could bring your….

[insert awkward pause and silence]…” “Rock Star permit?” I offer.

Exhale. Sigh of relief. “Yes!” She smiled. “Your Rock Star parking permit!”

Recently I had a friend text me this picture: posted it on Facebook on Sunday with the caption, “To be honest, this is how I wish the accessible parking spaces were actually labeled!,” and quickly received over 20 “likes.”

Thanks peeps. I often feel weird about the fact that I own and use a Handicapped Parking Permit. It gets especially awkward when I’m attending an event for young adults or kids—the blue and white zone is usually empty and my beautiful Honda Civic sits there all alone. I feel like EVERYONE knows I’ve arrived and where I’ve parked. I’ve definitely gotten stares while parking at grocery stores. I think people are expecting to see a little old lady, but instead see a smiling young woman. What’s up with that?

Here’s the deal… The main reason that I have a Rock Star parking permit is that I fall often. This is primarily a concern in the winter, but I even fell yesterday walking on familiar territory. Walking shorter distances can reduce the chances that I’ll have an incident.

The other compounding issue is that I tend to fall more frequently when my arms are full. Parking close to the door allows me to easily bring a cart close to my trunk to load or unload items. It’s much easier to do this at work and around town if my car is in the front row.

You might not notice, but my depth perception is slightly skewed due to my cerebral palsy. Parking has always been a bit of a challenge for me, but is a skill where I have seen some improvement. When I first began driving, I used to take up multiple parking spots because I had a hard time aligning my vehicle in the allotted space. Rock Star parking spaces tend to be much wider and have an access isle. It’s a sweet feature.

Finally, I lose track of things and I get lost easily. Sure, I can’t find my keys, misplace my cell phone, and have made a few wrong turns, but I also lose track of big things too. While walking one afternoon in my neighborhood where I have lived for four years, I wasn’t certain what side of the road my house was on, or how exactly I could get home. I got lost this year in my one-level elementary school where I have worked every day since 2008. I can’t find my car in a parking lot unless I think REALLY HARD about where it is located. Parking in a designated area puts my mind at ease. In the end, I have found having a Rock Star parking permit has made my life a little easier and surely has prevented injuries.

But, in truth, I wouldn’t park there if I didn’t have a need. I’d rather blend in. Then again, that’s another reason why it should be called “Rock Star parking.” They’re especially reserved spots for those who are willing to stand out and make their mark on the world.