Those dust bunnies are overpowering. So ominous and relentless, the minute I think I’ve achieved some semblance of a ‘clean’ floor – i.e. smooth textured parquet, no disturbing micro-grit underfoot – the next wave appears. Legion!
While grappling with this force majeure that has been pushing me to the edge of the sensory abyss of housekeeping, my brain formed an association with another kind of clean-up. Ridding myself of extra weight. No, not the physical, bodily kind, but the things that we accumulate and drag around with us, that slow us down in myriad ways.
This morning, while transferring a sound file from a memory card into a thumb drive via my MacbookPro, I stumbled upon a folder full of photographs from a rather poignant turning point in social relationship that marked the beginning of the inevitable end. Over a hundred photos from what to me was a horrible event. The Social Avalanche’s birthday party. The one where she told me at the last minute that Lucy was not welcome. She did not even have the good grace to tell me face to face, despite living just across the road, and her habit of knocking on my door at her whim and fancy. Instead, she sent me a message on Facebook, written in CAPITAL LETTERS.
Anyhow, I only glanced at the photos for as long as it took my brain to register what they were, and then I deleted the entire folder. I realise now, what I should’ve known then, but was actively suppressing my intrinsic wisdom in the name of superfulous ‘normality’. She just wanted to be the star diva in her own carefully orchestrated theatre performance. Nothing more. Harmless, in a way, if you’re a willing side-kick or member of the audience. She invited a mutual friend, an artist with a talent for photography, just because she wanted the person to capture her grand moment in scintillating glory. However, this friend cried off due to pressing work commitments. This made the Social Avalanche very angry. She stamped her feet and tossed her dyed blonde hair, and declared an “un-friending”! I foolishly consented to take the photos, although I was using an inferior digital point-and-shoot camera. Well, after I suffered the sensory overload from the brain-dead cacophony of social babbling (how can it be enjoyable when 12 people all talk at the same time, vigorously trying to be heard over each other’s din?) and frankly rather boring food, silently seething under that blatant insult and disregard (her telling me in capital letters that Lucy was not welcome at her beauteous event), I nevertheless dutifully set to work the next morning (despite pounding headache) and edited the lorry-load of glamour shots as best as I could. I should’ve saved myself the effort, really. The Social Avalanche’s reaction upon seeing the photographs? Contempt. More sickeningly childish foot stamping and hair tossing. And pouting. Yes, pouting, something I utterly despise and recoil from. No word of thanks even after I told her I’d spent 4 hours labouring over those images. Her reason? SHE DID NOT LOOK BEAUTIFUL ENOUGH. Sorry for the capital letters here, but I hope they manage to convey my own disgust and indescribable feelings.
This was a person who conferred upon me the grandiose title of “Best Friend” – an utterance which set off shrieking alarm bells deep in the recesses of my addled brain, sombre warnings from Ghosts of Best Friends past, which I totally failed to heed. Anyhow, I am glad to be well rid of this connection: although the scabs seldom fall off without some measure of discomfort, this particular disengagement was quick, and came as a great relief. At the end of the day, the blame cannot be laid 100% at her door. My part in the debacle was that I lacked the social acumen to hold such overwhelming “take-over” types at bay. Polite hints do not work on them. Showing by example is completely lost on them. Some people actually like these types – they do provide a great deal of social stirrings and if one is able to hold them at arms length, or form a mutually beneficial ecology, then why not? But for me, it is a toxic combination. And I failed to avoid being swallowed whole.
I know. I should’ve listened to my silent scream in the innermost reaches of my social brain. Instead, I did what too many autists who are “normalized” do: overide my own intrinsic social antennae (because it has been drummed into me since social consciousness took root in my sentience that my empathic instincts were wrong and I ought to adopt the Neurotypical system instead). I am 50, and like many adult, middle-aged autists trying to survive independently in the alien neurotypical-ruled social landscape, I have spent far too much of my life learning how to destroy myself – it will take the rest of my life to learn how to rebuild, reaffirm and bring back to life that starved, whipped, abused and weary Parallel Embodiment of mine. I may never achieve it in the few years I have left, but I hope my life’s work will add to the growing body of transdisciplinary research and practice aimed at bringing about not just awareness of difference, but true understanding of parallel paradigms, and building empathic bridges of mutual respect across neurological divides. Autists are not the ones lacking in empathy. Empathy is not a magical ability in any case. It is an arduous decision of constant endeavour. It is time the neurotypical world begin to learn to empathise with the autistic modality. The social world, and the world of science will benefit greatly, from a shift in perceptual foundations – I am convinced of this. And I am not alone.
As for the above photographs? Food – documenting my intimate food journey – is to me the mute undulating elemental continuous echo of pervading realities. I love eating alone. I do not need grand parties to make me feel good, in fact quite the opposite. I am happy with my humble, cheap food – which to me tastes so much better than noisy, rowdy, brain-dead and tasteless party-paella. And I have my Angle Hound watching over me, as I watch over her in symbiotic cosmic clemency.