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Obscura

And so it has been nearly three years since I last shared anything here. It hasn’t been an empty three years, by any means, nor one devoid of writing. I simply lost touch with my desire to be heard. Or to hope to be heard. To want anyone to want to hear.

And as the end of the year draws near, I find myself, like many others, looking back over the past several hundred days and measuring the growths and contemplating the achievements. And my greatest achievement, perhaps, within this past year is my self-identification as an autistic person. It is a realization that has rocked my foundations, and one I still grapple with on a daily basis. I am still in awe of the magnitude of my discovery, and I am grateful that it finally found me.

But while I see my experience of life through much different lenses now, it will not be a topic that I post about any more than others. This isn’t a blog about autism; this is a blog about me. All of the posts from the past twelve years are about my autism. All of my future posts will be, indirectly, about my autism. It is everything I am and everything I ever will be. And that is totally fine by me.

I remember a project I did while studying art in college. I was a senior year photography student, so we were basically allowed to do whatever we wanted and call it art. For this particular project I selected a blank sketchbook and began writing: all of my memories, starting from the first, and proceeding all the way up through my childhood years, trying to be as thorough and meticulous as possible. I believe I got somewhere through my seventh year of life in memories before the project was due and I had to move on to other things. But when it came time for the class critique, I simply sat on a chair in front of my classmates, with the book on my lap. I told them what I had written, and I told them that they were free to read it. But they had to ask me, specifically, to see it, and they had to hand it right back and not pass it off to anyone else. Only those who asked could see it. Surprisingly, there were a few who did ask, and it meant a lot to me. As for the others, they didn’t understand why I would go through so much trouble to create something and not share it more openly. I explained to them that it is because this is how I am. I am a closed book. Inside of me is a world of memories and thoughts and ideas and fascinations and fears, but I never offer any of that to anyone. You have to ask.

I didn’t say this or know it back then, but I would say it now: I don’t know how to share myself if you don’t ask me to.

Back then I would have thought of myself as a very open person: I would answer any question you asked me, no matter how personal. But again, back then, nobody was asking me any questions. I can only remember a few people from my art school years who I would have considered myself to be on friendly terms with. I didn’t know why, back then. Even now, twenty years later, I still struggle with my disconnection from my peers. I can’t tell you why, on a molecular level, I find it hard to put anything of myself out there. Even though I know that I have gotten better – a lot better – at doing it.

And I now know this better than I ever have before: my insides don’t match my outside. I am like a snow globe made with mirrored glass. From my vantage point inside it is all glitter and chaos and beauty and me, self-contained, doing my own thing and thinking this is all so neat and complicated and difficult, and aren’t all these other snow globes around me cool too? But those snow globes are clear, many of them. They are marveled at and appreciated and treasured because their beauty is so apparent. Whereas I, and others like me, are attractive only to those who are curious and willing to press their faces up close to the mirror to see what is going on behind it. And there is a lot going on behind it. And it is a glorious mess, let me tell you. And I am grateful for those who have been able to look past the mirror, because they have made it just a bit easier to want to be seen on the other side.

If you have been around long you may remember that my very first blog post in 2009 mentions my desire to start opening up more: becoming more vulnerable and letting my words be heard. I still lose touch with that sentiment from time to time, but it always comes back to me in one way or another. Writing is the one thing I can do that can give others a tiny glimpse into my inside– why not encourage that to happen more? Who knows: someone might actually see something they can appreciate.

You don’t have to ask, any more. But you are still more than welcome to.

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The other day I heard someone say, “It doesn’t look very much like spring.” All I could think was, “You must not be looking very closely!”

What has caught your eye these past few weeks?

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Today is the first anniversary of my Favorite Thing I Have Ever Done: purchasing my home. Having moved from place to place more times than I can remember, I am indescribably relieved to finally have a place where I can put down some serious roots. (And after having spent most of this sunny March afternoon out in the garden, I can say with confidence that the roots are coming along just fine.)

A year has passed and I find myself marveling at the newfound feeling of not having to wonder whether or not I will be in the same place for another season. In honor of the epic year behind us, and the many years and adventures to come, I’d like to share some of my favorite domestic scenes from our first year in our forever home. Here’s to flowers and sunny windows and snowy scenery and foster babies and beautiful sunsets and stacks of books and a house full of love. My Castle, my Fortress of Solitude, my Bliss Station: I hope I get to haunt you forever.

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Another two days have passed.
What else is there to say?

Sometimes I wonder
How I can have passed so many days already,
When it feels like they will never come to their end.

I’d consider it a success
If, from this point forward
I simply settle into my days passing,
Aging inch by inch here in this little house,
Achieving nothing more of worth in this world.

I have lived so many lives already.
What more could possibly be in store for me?
What else of wonder is there left.

Is it all maintenance from here on out?
All creation accomplished
Or the chance slipped by.
Coasting.
Getting by.
Killing time.
Waiting for the end.

Waiting for something to come along,
Which is the only thing keeping us around.

What else is there to say?

In fifteen years
A garden
A different set of cats
A new collection of lovers
Other jobs under the belt.
Anything else?

A gathering of days,
Hours woven together into some sort of pattern
But not without knots and snags and great, gaping holes.
I have no choice
But to continue adding threads,
Waiting to see what sort of regrettable image
Emerges toward the end.

Or just a tangle of string.

Is there anything left to thrill me?
If there is I cannot see it
I cannot dream it up
Delusional as though I may sometimes be.

I can only beat this path barren.
I can only keep planting each spring,
Writing each evening,

Keep paying each month
Until the debt is forgiven.

Keep reading until all the books are read
And their knowledge forgotten.

Keep eating for the sake of living.
Simply for the sake of breathing through another day,
Another two days.

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Sometimes, the best and only thing we can do for another being is not to let them live unloved.

Not to let them die unloved.

Found sick and wandering the streets of suburbia, Casanova came into my life just in time to give me the privilege of doing just that, for him.

I will never know his story, but I know that he spent his last months wrapped in love and warmth and sunshine.

And loving every minute of it.

I miss you, buddy.

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photo by Fatima Brown

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cas

photo by Fatima Brown

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Oremus

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Let us forget
the details of our past
So that our history
may repeat itself.

Let me forget
that passion is pain
So that I may brave
these same mistakes again.

And again.

Let me love you
As I did from the first
Even as you love another.
And another.

And another.

Let us ask
for Sorrow
So that our prayers
may be answered

And in so doing
That we may finally believe

in love.

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The longest night was not the darkest.

Happy Winter Solstice.

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I.

She bleps.

I boop.

We both smile
with our eyes.

II.

The touch of a paw
Can bring my to my knees
In an instant
Begging
For another blessing.

III.

I open the door
and I gather you into my arms.

Your neck smells of brown leaves
gone up in smoke.

The morning frost
burns already
in your ears and nose
and thrills upon my cheek.

I kiss your feet
and taste
the last mown grasses
of the season.

The song of life
half-wild
and well-lived
throbs in your throat
and in my ears.

We see this world
and we love it
and live it
through the green
in our eyes.

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Perhaps ten years ago now I was shopping for zinnia seeds to plant in front of my mom’s house in Irvington. On a whim, I grabbed a packet of large brown seeds, only five or six to a packet. From the photo on the front these flowers looked much like the blue morning glories I would be growing, except they were white. So it was with these modest expectations that I planted all the seeds and awaited the results. As the summer wore on, I confess, those special brown seeds slipped my mind. I had plenty of vines, and eventually there were beautiful sky blue flowers gracing the railings of my mom’s front porch every morning. I couldn’t have been more delighted with the results. One day I stepped out onto that porch near sunset, and was nearly knocked over by the sight of the largest and most exquisitely gorgeous silky moon-white and fragrant flower I had ever laid eyes on. It was nearly as large as my face, and I immediately took some selfies with it. It was huge, and it was beautiful, and I had forgotten I planted the thing and so it was beyond any and all expectations that I had formed and then forgotten over the course of the growing season. It was a bonus miracle.

I tried growing moonflowers during some of the following summers in other gardens, and met with no success. This past summer however, once again living back in Irvington and just a few blocks from my mom’s front porch of days past, I tried moonflowers one more time. Again, I thought I had failed. Again, one unsuspecting evening, I strolled out onto my deck and was struck by the radiance of a delicate beauty veritably glowing from within the flourishing tangle of morning glory vines. Another miracle, at last! I was blessed with a few more moonflowers over the next several days, and I savored them all. Perhaps there is something in the air here in Irvington that makes this type of magic thrive. Once you see and smell one of these gorgeous entities for yourself you will understand what I mean. And when you do you will start planting moonflower seeds too.

In the meantime I will let Jetta Carleton do the describing, in this excerpt from her novel, The Moonflower Vine. Perhaps someday I will get to see a show such as this:

“The watch resumed. Soon, now, a stem would tremble, a faint shudder run through the vine, sensed more than seen. A leaf twitched. No, you imagined it. But yes, it moved! A light spasm shook the long pod. Slowly at first, then faster and faster, the green bud unfurled, the thin white edges of the bloom appearing and the spiral ascending, round and round and widening till at last the white horn of the moonflower, visible for the first time in the world, twisted open, pristine and perfect, holding deep in its throat a tiny jewel of sweat.

…The vine stormed to life, and the blooms exploded— five, twelve, a torrent of them, tumbling their extravagant beauty into the evening air.

…The big spendthrift blooms extended themselves, stretched tight as the silk on parasols. In the dusk they would glimmer weakly, limp and yellowed as old gloves after a ball. But not now. Now the starred blossoms burned white against the dark vine and filled the air with the sweet, faintly bitter scent of their first and last breath.”

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