“I never look like that on Monday’s ” I said to the owner of the bar sitting to my right who had been keeping me compay for the better part of the hour as I watched two women sit down at the bar wearing tight dresses, perfectly straightened hair and smudge less makeup. He laughed it off as I picked up my beer and took a long drink while I admired their perfection.
I took a deep breath and sunk in my chair as my friend was pulled away by bar ownership and looked up at the tv through my eight year old walmart glasses with scratched lenses and hair in a messy bun in desperate need of washing. As I pretended to watch the baseball game on the TV I reflected on the trip I had just taken and the various things I had seen.
I thought about what life was like without autism for that twelve days and let me tell you what I saw. For starters I flew in an airplane for the first time in 20 years and let me tell you that was the most amazing experience. Just sitting in the airport was amazing. I was able to watch people come and go and I would watch them and try to guess where they were going, if there were traveling for work and for pleasure. I got to walk on the moving floor meant to keep foot traffic moving more quickly and I had way too much fun doing that. I sat in awe as I looked out the window on the airplane at the most amazing view of the sky above the clouds and wondered how anyone could sleep with such an amazing view available to them. As the flight attendants would ask if I wanted something to drink I always declined not sure if it cost money for a sprite and was too embarrassed to ask.
The Gentleman next to me on the first flight was on his way to Cabo and seemed the type to party in ways I could not keep up with and he seemed to be a bit fluffed up being placed between two women and just kept talking to us about his travel expeditions we just smiled and nodded as we rolled our eyes to one another as he continued talking. Upon our landing we were left to figure out how to get to our hotel and this is where things got exciting… I got to ride in an Uber for the first time ever which I thought was pretty neat. Our driver was a sprightly Russian, three times divorced and had just moved to myrtle beach from new york, he was a questionable character with some sort of body odor but I still enjoyed his company despite his story that left more questions than answers. As I looked out the window at my new surroundings I quickly took note of the touristy feeling.
As we got acclimated I took a deep breath of the ocean air remembering that I had not seen the ocean in twenty years. Loving that our hotel room had a beach view and stood on the second story balcony I just watched. I watched the people walking back and forth noting the darkeness level of their skin and taking a guess that the more white the skin the less time that patron had been on vacation quickly noting my almost ghost like hue.
In all honesty we really didn’t do much on our trip but me, I had fun finding locals and talking to them. We stopped in at a local Mexican restaurant our first night, enticed by their happy hour special offering $3.50 margaratias, and as we sipped our mostly alcohol margaritas and got more and more tipsy I struck up a conversation with an older gentleman named Steve who, when he found out we lived in Detroit, divulged that he had been dooped into buying a building on Gratiot Ave. (which is a pretty rough part of town) and was in the process of selling it. He was interesting enough but had that familiar old alocholic air to him that I have grown to know so well. I asked him what the locals do around there for fun and he said “you are looking at it” as he opened his arms to the bar while his two friends looked on and smiled at his reply. I just laughed and settled right in as my husband ordered another margarita before happy hour ended.
We walked up and down the main walk near the beach multiple times and I have to say I was not all that impressed. I did note however that the Palm trees were strategically placed and were not in anyway a part of the over all untouched forestry. I would later ask this question of yet another uber driver and would learn that its not actually Palm tress that reside in this area they are a derivative of the palm tree and are called Palmetto trees. “Do they actually grow here because all of the them seem strategically placed” I asked. The driver just laughed and said “No we ship them in and plant them, our soil isn’t great at supporting them”. “but they are on the your state license plates.” I said thoughtfully, “they are our state tree” “but they don’t grow here” I said as he sighed and fell silent and I ran out of questions.
The coolest part of the trip was by far the people. I would talk to people wherever we went because I could. I had time. I learned so much. I walked the beach picking up shells to save for later fearful of walking into the ocean because “there are crabs in there…have you seen the way they walk?!” Finally the last day my husband coaxed me off my white towel and made me get into the ocean. I held his arm almost shaking and inched my way in quickly noting the intensity of the waves. At first I hated it, and said “The first time something unknown touches my leg I’m out”. But ya know, once i was in and almost died from the first strong wave that came my way knocking me off my feet and taking me under I was good. I loved feeling the power of the ocean and got excited as I would stand in front of a big wave just beginning to crest at the top ready to battle its power. I almost died about four times… It was awesome! At one point there was a man and his son playing with the waves just to our left and as I wondered how his white sunglasses never fell of his head i heard him say in that heart stopping southern accent “A fish just jumped right next to Y’all!” as he giggled and prepped for the next wave. Long story short the ocean is awesome and I never saw a crab the entire trip.
One of the funnier moments was when we went to a museum of all things odd. Some of the things we saw were a goat with two heads, a lifesize replica of the tallest man that ever lived, and my all time favorite the tongue mirror. Just to set the stage there was a small tv screen placed over a mirror that showed some tricks people could do with their tounges which at the time people don’t know that the mirror is really a one way mirror and later in the museum trip you will get to stand behind it and watch unsuspecting people practice their tounge flipping skills. Well, I personally could have sat there all day but there was this one woman in particular that left me dying laughing. I stood there with david chuckling at people until this woman walked up with two men. As the men grew bored of the tounge antics and walked away the woman waited until she was sure they were not looking and drew near to the mirror grabbed both of her breasts and began adjusting them and admiring them in the mirror. At this I looked over at my husband and bust out laughing and he looked on in shock. I wanted to stand there and wait for her to realize the reality that this mirror was not in fact a mirror but I was pulled away by conscience.
On the flight back to nashville we had a lay over in Charlotte North Carolina so I sat reading an educational book about Sociopaths and the pathology of their illness (probably not the best pick for airport reading) until this older woman sat next to me with her little dog. Well, You know me, The dogs name was Tiffany (which I thought was odd but liked it), and she was from Califonia. She was a talkative lady and made me Feel instantly content. We talked like we were great old friends and later a boy from Texas across the isle joined in the conversation. We laughed and got puppy kisses as we waited and I learned that an animal that lays with their legs straight out actually has a name and that name is “Sploot” of course it was the guy from Texas that had this important piece of life changing information.
As we boarded the plane home I couldn’t help but feel like I was leaving me behind once again. I know everyone feels that to an extent at the end of a vacation but me, this time, I knew I was going back to a house that I wouldn’t be able to leave. I was going back to meltdowns in random places, therapists in my house and the uncertainty of it all. The blinders would be back on and any chance at human interaction would be limited to “hi” and “bye” and “im listening to you” sentiments as I avoid eye contact as I watch my son so he doesn’t run away or eat something he shouldn’t. I slumped I’m my chair still clutching my book in my hands with only ten more left to read that would have been done had I not talked to those amazing people in the airport and regretted nothing. I looked around and took it all in. The smell of the plane, the impatient woman behind me, the black gentleman to the left of me asking for jack and coke before we even took off. I tried to guess how many different places the other travelers were from an where they were going. After all, our lives would cross only for the duration of the flight and we would forever part. Just like me. I would be me for only the duration of the flight and then its back to reality. Everything to everyone but myself. This trip was a real eye opener. It was incredible. It was a great breath of fresh air and reminded me that there is so much more world around me than the 4 square miles I tread.