There were signs.
On the 8mm films I’m present in I’m 3, 4, or 5 years old. I seem happy, I’m smiling, and I’m bouncing around, but I don’t seem to be talking. Frequently I hold my right hand over my face, mirroring my dad who’s filming me.
I would, until I was at least seven or eight, hide behind my mom’s leg in public settings, like in the narthex of our church. Sure, I’d say hi if people said hi, but that’s all I was comfortable with. As I got older I started standing with my dad as congregation members came in. I’d respond to hello with hello (never initiating myself) then let my dad do all the rest of the talking. Hell, even at 17, when signing up for my first year at community college, I was so terrified to interacting with a stranger that I hid behind her while she did 95% of the work.
In high school some friends invited me over one Saturday to play a new board game. There were five, maybe six of us. Early on I realized none of them seemed to actually be terribly interested in the game as it was taking, on average, about 15 to 20 minutes for anyone to get their turn. But they were all happy, chatting, laughing, but I felt like a fish out of water and was doing everything in my power not to have a break down and walk out of the room screaming (no wonder I later took up smoking, lol).
I was always focused on perfectionism as well. And doing my best. Being the best. Winning. It’s not that I wanted to be better than other people, it’s that if the game’s chess isn’t that the point, to win? If you’re in a band don’t you do your best and get first seat? If your church teaches the rules of the road don’t you want to not just believe in them but live them every day? I was a generalist, in that unlike your typical autistic I didn’t have one thing I was singularly focused on, but when I was focused on something I was focused and there weren’t too many things I couldn’t pick up quickly, show a high level of proficiency in, before moving on to the next interest. Sewing? Sit ups? Lawn mowing? Math? Art? Cooking? Driving? Reading? Writing? Playing an instrument? Figuring out electronics? To quote Heinlein,
“A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.”
It’s interesting, having a new lens to look back on my life with. And yeah gods, I know, I probably spend far too much of my time examining my past. Something about a life not examined? I’m addicted. I can’t stop. I suppose that’s related to my real fixation: understanding what the fuck life is about. Who am I? How did I get here? Who are you? How do you work? How do we work or not work together? What is “the” big ’T’ Truth?
I have no idea what I’m rambling about. Been a long day. Haven’t felt terribly great. Finished up a deployment late at work, got to the gym, sitting at the downstairs office doing my writing thing while watching NPR Nightly News, and my ears started ringing something fierce. Hey, I learned I don’t have RA, so I should be happy right? Had a sense someone from my past was stalking me the other day. Not entirely strange when you have a blog.
Ramble, ramble, ramble.