“What are you looking at?” I thought I heard someone ask.
I turned to see a middle-aged woman standing near us. She was addressing my son, which is fine because he’s a grown man.
I knew this was going to eventually happen somewhere. Staring isn’t acceptable in our society and personally, I too am generally uncomfortable with being stared at for any length of time that seems out of the ordinary.
The waiter had brought our menus and it was during this moment when I thanked him that the woman walked over to our table.
The hostess had given us a round table in the middle of the large open dining area. I thought this was a mistake. I asked my son if he would rather sit along the wall with a bit more privacy, but he said no.
People have always told me that I can’t hide my feelings because of my eyes. I’ve heard it all my life. I decided to harness this transparency trying to communicate with the woman standing by our table that my son had meant no harm.
I can’t be sure what was translated when I looked into her eyes. Perhaps it was a plea for compassion. It seemed as though we met briefly where words are unnecessary.
“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to startle you,” she said. “It’s just that he was looking over at us,” she paused, looking briefly at my son and then questioningly back at me, “but he was smiling.”
“He likes seeing happy people,” I told her. “He gets very happy when people laugh.”
My son continued smiling while she and I chatted for a moment. It was a gleaming smile, much like a child’s at Christmas. The woman didn’t seem bothered.
She apologized again and invited us to join them.
“If you want to come sit with us you can,” she told my son. “You too!” she added.
They were having a cookware party. “We’re having lots of fun as he can obviously see,” she remarked.
I think his smile rubbed off on her. Her invitation felt sincere. My son seemed genuinely interested in cookware. I told my mom about it later and she said, “Well, he would have bought some, that’s for sure!”
We know him. We know how enthusiastic he gets about things. We know he laughs hard. We know he laughs sometimes when it’s considered inappropriate. We also know this is a way his brain is processing information. Other people don’t know this, of course.
I thanked the woman, but declined the offer.
She walked away and for a moment my son looked sad. I asked him what was wrong. He said he was just trying to figure things out.
I felt bad for him. Trying to figure things out and all. I haven’t figured out too much myself. He doesn’t understand certain rules that when I think about them, neither do I. Things about our world and society that honestly don’t make sense or aren’t rational, but are nevertheless realities.
We enjoyed the rest of our meal. Art literally covers the walls inside the restaurant. In the corner of the room where we sat is a tall puppet-like man with a theatrical face whose head reaches the top of the high ceiling. Most of their display includes Folk art created by the local artists. It’s a very cozy place and the food is good.
My son and I were able to engage in a conversation, which is unusual when it’s just the two of us and we’re surrounded by strangers. He usually seems quite distracted by his physical environment. Times when his grandmother and aunts visit are the best. He sits in the middle of us and has a wonderful time. He must feel safe surrounded by strong loving women.
The occasional group laughs from our cookware neighbors made him smile, but the art captured most of his attention giving us something to talk about and honestly, something for him to stare at other than the group of laughing women. The tuna also held his attention. He likes good food as much as anything, but each time the women laughed, so did he.
On the way home I asked if he wanted to stop at the thrift shop with me. Shopping is another activity he has a hard time with. Most of the time he can’t stay in a retail store longer than about five minutes.
This time was different. He enjoyed walking around and bought several items.
We had a good day. I think the kind of day we had is a pretty normal day for most people. It is for most people I know.
That night by the fire I realized I’d had several good days in a row lately. The positive feelings from this experience are unfamiliar and I felt anxiety.
I’m used to stress. I’m used to quarterly “mental health crises.” I’m also used to being fatigued much of the time and feeling like life is passing me by as a result. My point is that I don’t know what it’s like to have lengthy periods of time without serious stressful matters to deal with.
It’s like when the doctor asked me to take some pain medication and call him, “after twenty-four consecutive hours without pain.” I laughed. I thought he was joking! He wasn’t.
I was altogether stunned the day I called him to report that I’d experienced a full day and night without pain.
Sometimes you get so used to something that you don’t realize what a large impact it’s having on you or your life, like the fear I felt when I imagined having more good days, or rather, not having them.
I felt scared to imagine life being easier. Experience tells me that the next crisis is always lurking around the corner. How can I dream or ponder on dreams when who knows what might come my way the next day?
If I start thinking about the things I could do if I didn’t have so many crises to deal with, then I get scared of being hit in the face with… I don’t know what. Reality?
Reality it is!
Less than two days after my peaceful interlude, much has happened to bring me back. Back to a reality that is pretty hard to deal with.
Maybe I expected too much. Maybe I expected things to keep moving forward peacefully, without too many bumps in the road.
Thank you for visiting Dogkisses’s blog,
“Remember that there is nothing stable in human affairs; therefore avoid undue elation in prosperity, or undue depression in adversity.”
- Walking out of depression (dogkisses.wordpress.com)
- Refusing defeat (dogkisses.wordpress.com)
- When my car was the safest place to live (salon.com)