It is important to complete blog entries while still lingering in the moment as the euphoria or sense of accomplishment, fear, anger, regret, happiness, embarrassment, fun, and whatever is still fairly fresh. Like the sand that lingers in our shoes after that last ditch Labor Day trip to the beach…I am completing this essay while it is still with me.
Most people think of milestones and accomplishments as something along the lines of graduating from college or having a child. But for the autism population or anyone with a disability, milestones may be as simple as waiting two weeks in between phone calls to finally make the effort to “back off” after having been accused of relentless persistence in the past. A substantial life accomplishment could also come when a 24-year-old college graduate with a biology degree earns a job at the supermarket down the road that entails stocking shelves and bagging groceries all day long. These circumstances may not be ideal, but they are dramatically better than playing Xbox in his family’s basement on most days. The whole point is that one thing could lead to another and the next milestone will be even more substantial. One of my major life milestones finally arrived for the first time after two long years on Friday. I was able to get a haircut, chiropractic adjustment, and even an eyelash tint at my new home in Albany. In order to ease the transition, I have made a choice to have my haircut performed at a place called, “Snip-Its” which is mainly geared toward small children who are afraid of haircuts by decorating the place with over-the-top cartoonish icons and television monitors that turn the business into the Chuck E. Cheese's with scissors instead of cash guzzling arcade attractions. Children will still cry in hysteria, although it is not nearly as tenacious as in a regular barber shop with a grizzled-looking, old school proprietor who has minimal patience.
The transition to life in Albany has not been a smooth one even though I have been here for quite a while. For the first year, I was compelled to come home on most weekends to see my family and do laundry. Around the second year of my residence in the state capitol, I finally was able to stay in Albany most weekends with one exception. Part of my routine is having a haircut, having my back adjusted, and dying my left eyelash at a salon in Dutchess County. (I have one eyelash that turns completely white due to my Vitiligo and am tired of people always thinking I splashed white paint around my eyelid.) Aside from seeing my family and having these services completed, I also enjoy doing my laundry at the Saperstein household and saving a few dollars. Perhaps common sense will kick in one of these days, and I will understand the gasoline expenses are much more than the laundry dollars.
It has been easy to justify the hassle of returning home just to have these services completed in Dutchess County. It is ideal for all of these venues to squeeze me into their schedules on the first Saturday of the new month. I get these services done in one veritable explosion and the chiropractor is located forty minutes away from my home, which means that an entire day is depleted with these services that certainly exist in Albany. It seems justified to fear and avoid new places as well as new individuals. These businesses that I have held onto treat me with humanity. I can regale you with a few horror stories of new places that have accused me of stalking for “provocations” such as staring at an attractive woman working at a bank or a neurotic waiter who yelled at me in frustration because of my brief confusion regarding a “fixed price” menu. While I certainly agree with the fact that it is wrong to make someone uncomfortable by staring, it was just as wrong for them to continue treating me like a psychopath long after my unconscious behavior had stopped cold turkey. When I pleaded with the manager to put a stop to her employee’s actions, she simply said, “If there is anyone who makes us uncomfortable then we may not be able to do business with them.” These experiences may pale in severity with horrors like Hurricane Harvey or being brutally assaulted in a dirty alley. This, however, does not change the fact that for me they were highly traumatic. It thus made perfect sense to avoid new places and hold on for dear life to those businesses where there is little chance such problems will occur. But this past week I decided that enough was enough. Now that the brass ring of change has been grasped it becomes clear that I may do it again without being stunted by fear.
The woman who dyes my eyelash is an amazing person, but it became very difficult to compete with her schedule. The final straw came when she was busy for four days straight and the following weekend I would be out-of-town. At long last, I gave up and found a service in Albany. This weekend is a four-day weekend considering that I took a rare vacation day on Friday. Next weekend I will be leading an Alumni Activity so getting the service completed is also off the table. The move to Albany was not a choice. Actually I did have a choice but it involved making a fifteen-hour commute per week for my current position at Living Resources, Inc. My theory is that it is impossible to hold onto everything but it is not fair to have to let go of everything either. I went trick or treating until the age 31 until the dance could not go on any longer. For years, I would contact women I had a crush on in high school only once a year because it did not qualify as stalking or harassment even I knew they had no desire to speak with me. In fact, I had always congratulated myself on significantly “backing off.” My feeling is that reaching out to someone only once a year certainly counts as “backing off.” There are times when the dance must end because it is not longer practical and one’s time/money becomes too valuable.
Keep in mind, this does not mean that I will completely stop returning to my home community to have these services completed, although there is comfort in knowing that I can survive a dramatic change in routine and nothing bad will happen when new souls are handed the Service Baton.