My alarm, yesterday, rang way too soon. I was more than willing to wake up though as I knew that in just over two hours I would be on a plane to New York City.
I had several private messages on Facebook asking me if I was nervous and I was, but only for the meeting with the publisher. I was so focused on that meeting that everything in the middle was given little to no relevance. I try to use my everyday life to point out the quirks of being on the spectrum and I realized I am so lucky to have traveled so many times because if not I surely would have left something behind or just messed up somehow because I was running on autopilot (truly the word autopilot was used without realizing I am also talking about flying) with the majority of my mind focused on the meeting.
My running on autopilot was quickly derailed (how many more vehicular references can I make? This could be fun) when I landed because my dad made me a cheat sheet with where I would be and when and the phone numbers I needed. The first number that needed to be called was for the shuttle from the hotel. Sounds easy, right? Ha! I stood outside waiting, hoping it would magically appear, but it did not. I then thought of walking to the hotel as I could see it, but there was an interstate between us so that idea blew out like a flat tire (another one!). Eventually, after fearing every possibility of being yelled at by the hotel, I called and they said, in a very polite manner, "It will be right over, sir." So much for my fears.
Once at the hotel I had to wait a while before the car that was scheduled to pick me up was, well, scheduled to pick me up. The minutes ticked by and a painfully slow pace. There were no clocks around, but I could hear a clock somewhere, "tick...........tock............"
Finally, 1:30 rolled around and thankfully the driver called me as I was fearing having to call another number, and I was on my way to Manhattan. All the years of writing led to this moment. I had been to Manhattan three previous times, and each time I barely had enough time to realize where I was because the trip was so fast (on two different occasions I was there for less than four hours!). Again, this would prove to be one of those trips, but this trip meant so much more.
Traffic was dense, as I assume it always is here, but I still made it on time. I got out of the car and walked into the building that the driver said was the building. I walked in and was puzzled as there were no signs for any companies. Surely this couldn't be the right place? I mean, sailors on ships way back when had stars to guide them and here I am, 21st century, with no direction (chalk up another transportation analogy!) I walked towards the guard station, but then turned away. Fear was mounting and I was sure I was in the wrong place. I walked back to the station, but then turned away at a brisk pace. I knew what I had to ask, but how would I react, and how mad would the guy be, if I was asking for a person that wasn't in that building. Then, I had a stroke of genius; out came the phone and I simply searched for my publisher, and address. I walked outside, and the numbers matched so I knew I was in the right place and approached the guard station without fear.
A pass was given to me and I headed to the elevators. I began to shake a little, I must admit. My stomach tightened and I began to feel just a little light headed.
When the elevator doors opened on my floor I was there! this was it, the place that the journey has taken me. I opened the door to the offices and walked to the reception desk and was doing everything in my power not to shake, or have a quivering voice, but I think I failed on that front.
I was a bit early so I sat down and tried to immerse myself in the chess games I had going on my phone, but all my moves were horrible (I lost three games in those eight minutes with just downright awful moves) so any hope of distracting myself was gone.
How high was the anxiety? I would compare this to the moments right before my first race when I was 12. Every breath was labored and the level of nausea was unprecedented. A part of me wished I could just vanish and go back to Saint Louis and crawl back into bed because I was not enjoying this one bit. However, it is exactly those emotions that got me to this point in my life so despite the anxiety, stress, and multitude of other emotions I was feeling I had to stay.
What was I nervous about? I mean, it was just a meeting with the publisher, right? What made it a meeting larger than life was the unknowns. I never had a meeting like this. I didn't know what was going to be said, or what could come from it. I'm also not used to having meetings where I am the topic. I can talk about myself in presentations for three hours no problem, but a meeting with conversation is a different thing all together.
With each person I saw out of the corner of my eyes I went back to my phone as I was in a state of a no-fly zone in terms of eye contact. With eye contact comes the chance I might have to make that first social move so by paying attention to my phone I put myself in the reaction position. A couple more minutes passed and then I heard my name.
I had many questions of, "How did the meeting go?" yesterday and I responded with, "I don't know" which is an honest answer. I don't know how to measure it and on top of that I had such a level of pre-event anxiety that when I finally got to the meeting I was exhausted. I now notice that I did not notice anything about New York or Manhattan. The previous times I have been here I have loved every second, but since I was hyper-focused on this meeting I became oblivious to my surroundings.
So again, how did it go? I was told it was a productive meeting, but I can't accurately trace the conversation arc or what said. In a way I feel robbed as this was supposed to be that shining moment, that once in a lifetime moment where it all comes together and all makes sense. Instead of that I have no idea how it went. Perhaps it's because I have no criteria to measure it up against. I mean, if you move to a new town and it rains one inch the first day does that mean it rains that much every day? Without something to go by an accurate measurement is impossible.
Last night I laid in my hotel room contemplating the future. The release date is April 3rd. That's just over six months away, or half a year. The countdown has begun, but the pressure I felt last night, and again this morning, is immense. I still don't know what the world will look like after April 3rd. I mean, will people buy my book? Will they like it? Maybe if I intended on writing a book when I started writing it would feel different, but I'm here by accident in a way as I never intended on being an author, blogger, or speaker for that matter and yet here I am.
I'm sure over the next few days I will remember snippets from the meeting. However, perhaps all this I have described in this post is just a explanation of who I am. It is hard for me to ever take credit in anything I do because I simply do it. At presentations, if you ever see one in person, watch my expression if people clap; I look uncomfortable and unsure of what to do. It's hard, well, impossible for me to understand the impact that I have with my writings and spoken words. My mom called that a, "tragedy" a year or so ago, and I believed her, but now I disagree as I feel it is this quirk that keeps me who I am. Yeah, I may feel robbed at times because I expected myself to feel a certain way at an event, but then again what I do isn't for myself. I do realize I state my mission is to raise autism awareness and understanding and I to realize that I am having an impact; don't take these last few paragraphs as me believing that my works are worthless. This is quite the contrary, but I only understand this from a factual level and it doesn't make that leap into the emotional side.
Wow, okay, I have rambled on. I don't know if I kept with the title of this blog (in case you are curious I always start with the title and work from there) but nevertheless the count down has begun. I'm just going to have to take the editor-in-chief's words that the meeting was great and productive. As much as I'd like to know what the next six months are going to look like I guess this would be like a ocean-liner leaving port in the late 1800's as how would they know what type of weather they would run into? I just had to use one more usage of transportation before I ended this, but it works as the journey I have mentioned at the start of this didn't end today, but rather it was just one more stop along the way to, hopefully, the destination of bringing about a new understanding of the autism spectrum to the world.