Last Friday I went to my very first NHL game and for the most part it was great. The sounds of the game in person is something that one can't appreciate at home. The sounds of the blades on the ice are so sharp and crisp, the sound of the bodies slamming against the boards is enough that you can feel the pain, and the sound of the pucks hitting the sticks is nothing short of awesome. However great that experience was was I had a moment of my own in the 1st intermission that over shadowed the night.
What happened between the 1st and 2nd periods is a classic example of something that would, for most people, be minor and a non-event. For me though the anxiety is still with me like it just happened.
Yes, I can see how this event wouldn't be remembered by most people. I'm not like most people though. What happened was this: Between periods I was craving nachos and a soda. I waited for the lines to thin out somewhat and went with 6 minutes to go in the intermission. The price for nachos and a soda came out to $13.25! For what it is worth though there were free refills on the soda. With soda and nachos in my hands I proceeded back to my seat. This is where the usher enters our story
As I walked from the concourse through the small tunnel like chute to the inner arena I had my eyes locked on my seats. Walking amid a group of people that are coming and going is always a stressful experience for me so I have to keep my eye on the final destination. If I look at my immediate surroundings I may make eye contact or look at someone in a wrong way (don't ask what a wrong way is as I'm not sure what it is, which is why I try to avoid it). That being said I keep my eye on the finish line.
I passed the usher and was just about to go down the stairs towards my seat when all the sensory alarms went off in my body. It wasn't much as it was just a tap on the shoulder, but the sensation of touch on my shoulders is considerably higher than anywhere else on my body. To put lightly, unless I know the person and it is expected, any touch on my shoulders is something I would avoid at any cost. A tap on the shoulder is like being tapped everywhere on my body all at once and that is a lot of information to process.
I was set on my destination and this tap threw me off. So much so that I nearly took a tumble down the stairs. I was startled, and processing what just happened and thankfully I was stopped by the railing that goes down the middle. What was the meaning of the tap on the shoulder? She needed to see my ticket.
My senses were violated because she needed to check my ticket even though she had checked it before the game. Okay, so maybe she didn't have a good memory, but I'm still a little irked of the end result that happened. Sadly, the bout wasn't over.
She needed to see my ticket, but my ticket was in my pocket and I had both hands holding the drink and the nachos. I was in a startled state, and I realize now I didn't vocalize anything after being startled. Truly I didn't say a word as I was processing so much information that the actual world took a back seat to the anxiety of my body.
I was unable to say "my hands are full" and I started a small dance to try and illustrate this. I looked at my left hand, then my right, then my left, then down towards my left pocket, and then she said, "I'm sorry sir, I can't hold your drink". I was now lost. I had no idea what to do. What I wanted to do was teleport back to home and go to bed and never leave my bed. Being flooded with so many issues is a short amount of time that I couldn't foresee was just awful.
I started to have this odd jerky motion and I was filled with nothing but rage. Pure rage. The rage had no direction and wasn't towards anyone as I was just confused and scared. I didn't know what to do nor could I fully comprehend what was expected of me.
Finally, someone walking by asked me if I would like them to hold my drink, so I handed it to them and showed the usher my ticket. With drink in hand I made my way towards the stairs with the goal of sitting in my seat and slowly venting this anxiety and anger out of my system.
It happened again. A tap on the shoulders and again I nearly took a spill. "Sir" she said, "You can't go down the stairs and you must remain behind the blue line until play stops. Just as I began my trek towards my seat the 2nd period began. I heard her words but nothing made sense. Being tapped on the shoulder once is bad, but a 2nd time, after a tense two minutes was too much.
I just stared at her in befuddlement. She repeated her line and I slowly comprehended that if she had not put me through two minutes of torture, I would not have been in violation of crossing the line while the puck was in play. I was angry and confused.
While standing behind the magical no cross blue line I began to twitch. My rage was at my personal limit. The sensation of the tap to the shoulder would not go away and I could not comprehend why the usher was doing her job.
As my luck would have it, several minutes went by without a stoppage in play and I stood there shaking. All I wanted was nachos, a drink, and to return to my seat in peace. Something simple that most people could do without an event. My event I endured was worse than any fight that happens on the ice (I don't understand why they fight in hockey by the way. Hockey is a great sport, but the fighting just is so out of place).
With a stoppage, finally, I returned to my seat and slowly got my bearings. It's an event like this that I fear each and every day. If you aren't on the spectrum I don't know how you will understand this story. Perhaps if I tell you that I am teary eyed right now talking about this because it strikes fear in my heart. Pure fear. I don't know when an event like this will happen nor will the person that creates it know what happened. I can't blame the usher (I want to, trust me) for doing her job. How can one expect that a tap on the shoulder could have such an impact on a person?
Trying to operate in a world that can't foresee such impacts is difficult. I don't have a big "Don't touch me here" sign. I don't have a sign that says, "Don't interrupt while walking".
It's hard. It's a challenge. Life is nothing short of a fight and most times people don't know they started one. I don't fight with them though, it's a fight with my own mind and senses. It's because of this I hesitate each time when leaving the house.
The world is a dangerous place and is filled with many events that will prove to be hazardous. The problem is this; what is hazardous to me is a non-event for most people. People will put me in these positions and not even know it. The usher couldn't have known out much pain this would've caused me, and I don't think she ever knew. I kept it internal except for the shaking.
This event evoked a sense of fear I haven't felt in a while. This "usher vs. Aaron" event was something far more dramatic than two goons on the ice trying to punch the other guy's face in. My fight, that I think about each day, is about the battle of overcoming the fear of every day life. When will the next battle be? How bad will it be? Will I endure it? These questions I ponder each day, and this bout with the usher has me second guessing myself.
I'm here in the office though, I got out of bed this morning and life continues on. I'm fearful, but I won the fight. I fear the next one and wonder if I will overcome it, but how will I know if I will or won't overcome it unless I try? For this I play on.