Saturday, May 7, 2011

The Change

Welcome to a special early Saturday morning edition of my blog. Normally I don't update on the weekend, but I can't sleep due to having way too many thoughts of the past week swirling about.

As I mentioned in the previous post, today was the day I went from giving presentations to being at the race track. The change itself proved to be harder than I thought as the track's name is Orange Show and someone said it was at the fairgrounds so I assumed it was the Orange County fairgrounds. Little did I know that it wasn't so what I thought was going to be a 10 minute drive turned out to be a near 100 minute trek.

Before I was dropped off, the professor I was staying with and I ate at Arby's. The emotions were almost crushing at this point in time because this was it. Goodbyes are typically hard, but having such a an amazing time this past week made it so much worse.

Lunch was finished and it was time to make the block-and-a-half trip to the track. Once there I grabbed my stuff from the trunk and was asked, "Are you good?" and I said, "Yes, this is it." And that was that.

With my ride gone I stood by the score tower feeling way out of place. Usually I know exactly what to do and where to go at a track, but now I was standing feeling as if I were lost. The problem here was I had been in presentation mode for so long that my mind didn't exactly know what to make of this change; and what a surreal change it was. I mean, the scheduling worked out great for this opportunity to come out to the LA area to give presentations and then to go to the track.

Slowly I began to walk around, but it was as if I had never seen a track before. Transitions are rough for those on the spectrum and from going to one Kansas to the other so quickly was as confusing as if the sun were to rise in the West.

The walk continued and I saw familiar faces, but while they may be familiar it was the sort of familiarity that one could have if a person saw a face in a dream and then tried to place it.

Mother nature wasn't helping out as the sun beat down upon me. Clouds? Not a cloud in the sky so I stood near the grid area looking for someone I really knew. After what felt like all afternoon but in all reality was more like 40 minutes I saw Butch, one of the USAC staff. and I instantly asked him how the previous races that I missed went.

The change finally began to set in as I heard stories from the week's past and then another official, Kyle, joined in and the previous week of my life slowly began to dissipate. As soon as I found James the change was complete. It took a while but it was like I had never left the Nashville race that happened a little over a month ago.

For the following hours of the day I stayed at the track and just soaked it all in. Today was just a set-up and sign-in day and to call a day like today exciting would be much like calling a walk to the mailbox and back exciting. As true as this may be I soaked in every second from conversations at the merchandise table to wondering how many times I heard a certain song over the PA system. To be out, to be talking, and to be at a racetrack over 1,000 miles away from home is something that I love to the point that any words I try to use to describe the feeling of utter completeness would fail.

After the track, at dinner, I tried two new foods thus continuing the streak of trying something new while away from home. I will say I was somewhat forced to try one of the two though, but even that just made the whole experience better.

Tomorrow the racing begins. The previous week of presentations are still with me, but tomorrow is a race day. When I get back to Saint Louis I know it is going to take me at least a week to catch my breath, but tomorrow is a not a day to do that. I'm probably babbling on right now as the melatonin takes effect so I will say good night, and say that I believe tomorrow's races are being streamed on the internet. The link for this is

1 comment:

  1. Personally I have a few tricks in these situations, as I have dealt with what you described at American Occupational Therapy Association conferences

    1. Because I try my best to make eye contact with people, faces will be a good clue!

    2. For these events, people wear name tags. As I scan the environment subtly like I usually do once in a while, I will notice who is walking by, increasing the chances of seeing familiar faces.

    3. My mentality is that I don't view these as transitions even though I was at a different city each time I went to this conference. Rather, seeing familiar things and people associated with the conference helped me ease in... even though the convention center is a different one for each year.

    4, If I see someone I know, I will definitely walk with them (for at least a while) if we are going similar directions.

    You may think my OT taught me all this. But in reality, I taught myself... as these techniques worked well in church conferences at a smaller scale before I went to OT school.

    I think one thing that needs to be taught to individuals with autism is this "transfer of learning" piece... which is what one learns in one setting can be applied to another. If they master that, transitions will be A LOT easier for them!