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Tuesday, May 1, 2012

A Meeting After 22 Years

Today is May 1st and the start of my "Autism Awareness Year." Okay, so every day of every year is that for me, but nonetheless I thought it would be a good idea to tell you a story of an event that happened at the end of last week as it's time to get back to telling the world how my mind works.

This was during the time I was in San Fransisco before my presentation. Before last week though my brother had a friend in and around the year 1990. I would've been seven then and his friend and I spent many a hour playing various Nintendo games. Many, many hours. I remember this, however, as with all people, I don't remember him. I remember what we did, the room I was in, what I was wearing, but when it comes to him, and all people, I don't have the ability to remember the person or what they look like. This is a good time to state the line of, "If you've met one person with autism you've only met one person with autism" because on my nationwide tour I met a person with Asperger Syndrome that has a photographic memory of people. However, I was not born with that.

My brother's friend had big aspirations, and I remember them, to become a person that designs things for movies. Eventually in, I want to say 1991, he moved out to the San Fransisco area and he did, indeed, live his dream. That was the last I saw or heard from him. However, technology is a wonderful thing and through Facebook my dad had reconnected with him and when he found out I was coming out that way he made an offer to give me a tour of where he works. It didn't take me half a second to think and say, "That would be an experience of a lifetime! Sign me up."

As the day was nearing my dad said I should "call to confirm" and this was creating a great drama in my mood as calling people is something I struggle with. Also, since I did know him 22 years ago this made it worse because I can call people I know, such as family, but to talk to someone that I knew all the way back then, well, that was going to be awkward. Do you see the trouble I was having? Even though this was going to be a once in a lifetime experience I still couldn't simply dial the number. There were to just too many unknowns, "What would he say? Would anything in the past be referenced? Would he be mad at giving the tour? Well, why would he? He offered..." The circular thought paralyzed me and I eventually sent a message on Facebook and thankfully everything was a go.

Arriving at the building, and walking in, was an odd feeling as if I were out of place. I won't mention where this was, but there were many things that would make any movie buff just a tad bit envious. After a short wait out he came and, well, it was an odd feeling. I don't believe I have had this long of a time span between knowing someone and seeing them again in my life and of course, I didn't recognize. On this point though I'm sure, spectrum or not, the result would be the same.

The tour began and instantly I was seeing things that I recognized from movies I had seen years ago. Having the memory I do it was so awesome to see the actual paintings, or models used in things I saw 20 or so years ago as this brought about all the memories and experiences I had during seeing that movie for the first time.

As we progressed I asked a question, as since I have an associative memory system I always had memories of him, but it always had to do with items or such, so I asked, "At some point in time were you working on some sort of model yellow submarine?" For a moment he looked as if he were thinking back, and I'm sure he was, and then there was a big smile and he said, "How do you remember that? Yes, I made that and I actually used it in my application to work here." My goodness, how did you remember that?"

To be honest anytime I see yellow or play RC Pro AM on the first Nintendo I am reminded of him. Even still I am amazed at how this associative memory system plays out because I can't recall the person, but items, colors, and events are instantly associated with people.

The tour continued on and I was amazed at his knowledge of just about everything in the building. Also, my appreciation for those that work behind the scenes of movies was greatly increased and I don't see that now as a job, but truly the word "art" must be used because it is beyond anything I can imagine, as I have no artistic talents, to be able to create the works of art we saw be it paintings, props, or sculptures.

A couple of hours later and the tour, sadly, came to an end. I could have stayed there all day listening to small tid-bits of info as I was soaking it all in. It was truly a once-in-a-lifetime tour but more importantly it was so neat to see someone that was simply a ghost in my memories. Well, he might have been a ghost but that yellow submarine has been perfectly visible for two decades.

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