by Ian Aronow
Last week, my friend Kate was visiting from California. She used to work for our family doing all sorts of helpful things like prepare food, run errands and play my constant companion at home when mom needed a break. She was there when I started my RPM letterboard mission. But, she left before I could do a lot of open and longer communication on the letterboard. Can I tell you how awesome it felt to show Kate how much I had improved?
The day she came to visit with her new boyfriend Chad was magical. I was totally in control of my caveman body. Kate and Chad talked about how they met, while I listened and then asked questions using my letterboard. Being able to have a conversation with an important friend like Kate was absolutely damn amazing!
Then, I banded together with Kate for a lesson on “blue whales and the largest fungus among us!” It was camaraderie and funny puns catching us at all corners. Joyful, delightful, easy, and oh so perfect! My mom watched with pride and jubilant smiles. Dappled sunlight came through the window and bathed our shiny, happy faces. And that was only the beginning of this incredible day.
After eating lunch in a purposeful and controlled way (Kate can attest to how crazy my body can act around food), we decided to go indoor rock climbing. It was just like old times with Kate at Planet Rock, but better because I also got to climb with Chad. AND, I was not doing goofy things with my body. Also, I felt confident using the letterboard in public. I climbed really well and had fun–same as always, but my calm body was my favorite part–way better behaved than in the past. At Planet Rock, many of Kate’s former co-workers (she used to work there), came up to say “hi” to us. I was grateful that so many of them remembered me when I was climbing there with Kate. I felt caring vibes instead of way pitiful stares.
After tiring ourselves out climbing, Kate, Chad and I returned to my house for dinner with my family and Kate’s mom, Debbie. My mom made an awesome dinner and we all chowed down. My body was, again, very purposeful and I was able to eat without the sensory meltdown that can sometimes happen around food.
After dinner, I suggested we all play “Chickenfoot”– this really fun domino game. We sat around the table and proceeded to play and just outman each other with puns and trash talking. In no time at all, it played itself out with me as the winner.
Full of special new memories, the day came to an end. I was now calling to a more budding real friendship with Kate, instead of being more of an autistic castaway, lost at sea. Finally, I was making friends with Chad and Kate’s mom Debbie, too.
Life is so much better with friends. And I will always remember this day.