Thursday, July 27, 2023

Finding Kansas Revisited: I...


            This is another chapter I don’t fully remember writing but is yet another chapter with so many of the hidden issues that are often well below the hidden depth of Asperger’s. I will say, however, I very much agree with myself and I don’t know what spawned it but my distaste for people that think they know everything is easy visible. I have always been that way; if a person is so sure about something without the ability to see it from any other angle, or a person who is so sure about something that they mock any opposition to their idea has always annoyed me. Now there is a flip side to this as, well, I’m sort of that way.

            The third and fourth paragraphs state something that I think has changed since I wrote this; I wrote in this chapter that people I’ve met have been, “tight lipped” about it in that it was something they wanted hidden. From giving my school presentations I can say that I am sensing a swing the other way now as awareness goes up. I ended a paragraph by saying, “understanding is the only thing I want” and I believe we are on that way.

            Further on I talk about the trade off in life in that we can be good at something but for each thing we are good at we were be equally bad at something else and that there will be thing that I never will be able to do. It’s fitting I write about this chapter now because yesterday I had an experience that would’ve been an even that I thought I’d never would have done.

           Several years ago I was in Ste. Genevieve giving a presentation and in the segment of my presentation that I mention I pull my car keys out I didn’t feel them. No worries, I thought, as I assured myself that they were in my coat pocket. I would’ve made a joke about this during the presentation but I was trying my best to keep my voice and not chough so I omitted it. Anyway, after the book signing segment I went back into the auditorium to get my computer and coat and as I put my coat on I reached for my keys and, GASP! they weren’t there. I walked swiftly to my car and used my flashlight and there were my keys, sitting on my bowling balls on the back seat seemingly mocking me. They were so close and yet unobtainable. I walked back into the performing arts center and gave my coworkers and the person from the school district who helped set this up and I was fearing some sort of angry response from them and I was worried the building would be locked and I’d be waiting for AAA out in the cold. My fears were ungrounded in fact and no one left. In fact, what I thought was going to be a miserable experience waiting in the cold quickly became one of my favorite memories from being on the road as the five of us chatted nonstop for the hour or so it took. On my drive home I figured that I’d have a chapter coming up in my book on this series that this story would fit in, but I can’t believe it fits in so nicely now because what I did tonight, having a conversation with four others the way I did, was something that I thought I’d never do and here I was doing it.

            As this chapter goes on I talk about memories which lead me to think about this never thing. I actually feel I will never have an experience like I had last night. I don’t know why my brain is like this, I don’t know why I’m a “worst case scenario thinker and good things will never happen to me” mentality. History has shown otherwise but this is my default setting. Why is this important? Good things can quickly become bad memories. How so? Imagine your best day ever. Imagine having a day that everything clicked, you achieved every single life goal, you impressed every person you came across, and you set records that can never be broken. After such a day how could any day ever live up to that? Yes, this is sort of how my brain works and why when something really good happens it turns into a negative emotion after the face. It’s hard to understand this; this notion that a positive turns into a negative, but if you experienced something so blissful and perfect and were convinced that it would never happen again then maybe you’d understand this.

            The final segment of this chapter talks about my bowling achievement of rolling a 299. Before you ask, yes, I did eventually bowl a 300, but on this night I threw a 299 there wasn’t a great deal of celebrating. I was happy I was finally getting a ring (back then a bowler got a ring for a 298, 299, or 300 game or even the rarer 800 series) after bowling for seven years, and I was glad I conquered the wobbly knees (once you get the first five or six strikes in a car the wobbly knees hit and with each subsequent strike standing straight and having a solid approach shot becomes harder and harder) once and for all. However, I didn’t get to relish in the normal fanfare of a 290+ game. Typically, when one is going for a 300, there’s this great hush that descends among those around the bowler. It’s almost a sacred moment in that speaking becomes a sin, bowling beside the person becomes a sin, and as so much as mention a three with two zeroes following it is of the utmost taboo. I didn’t experience this, though. I had bowled in this league for four years and was virtually invisible. Whereas others came to bowling to socialize and to, well, drink, I went to bowling to simply bowl. I didn’t chit chat, I didn’t small talk, and I was the last one to congratulate an opponent. I wasn’t a bad sport, but I wasn’t a good sport, I guess you could say I wasn’t a sport at all and just went through the motions of bowling because it was something to do. The framework of this all (haha!) led to an isolating experience as I threw my 12th shot for the 300 and I rolled a beautiful ball that hammered the pocket and the pins scattered but the headpin bounced off the wall just glancing the seven pin and no other flying pins hit the seven so I came up one pin shot of perfection. I stood there, defeated, somewhat glad I was getting a ring but devastated that I had been robbed of perfection. I turned around and there was nothing. You should see it, when a bowler throws a 300, there’s applause, accolades, and a sense of belonging to an elite crowd. This, though, was not meant for me.

            It’s amazing how a positive experience can be perceived as a negative one, but for some of us on the autism spectrum that’s exactly what can happen. As I mentioned earlier in this series I still struggle with self-esteem issues and the experience last night with chatting away for an hour was an amazing experience. I never thought I’d be glad to have locked my keys in my car, but I felt as if I got to experience normal last night. Again, I’m under the belief there is no such thing as normal, but to keep the talk of paradoxes alive (I use that word A LOT in this chapter in my book) that’s exactly what it was; I don’t believe in normal but I experienced it last night and since I am convinced it will never happen again I look at last night with almost a tear in my eye. Why did the tow truck driver have to come when he did? He could’ve waited, right? Just a few minutes more, right? To be so close to normal, to be on the edge of it being able to have it within my grasp, and to have it yanked away is, well, it’s the essence of having Asperger’s.  

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