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Autism: Thoughts on Aging

21 Apr

When I was seventeen years old, I went to a ‘self-paced’ school on the west end of the city I lived in. I thought, since I struggled so much with school at times, that being self-paced would work well for me. And it did! That is, until there were group projects. Group projects were always hard on me, and being in a self-paced program made it even harder, as there was no one in my class at the same spot as me. I ended up dropping out, but my post is about other things.

I am sure that I had a bus pass at the time, as I lived so far from my school. However, I do remember often walking home from school – and activity that took about an hour, as I lived on the east end of the ‘mountain.’

It must have been about early October. The leaves were just starting to fall from the trees, and rather than walk along the main streets, I walked in the neighbourhoods instead. I really liked to look at houses and yards. I still like to walk along and look at houses and yards.

Several of the houses that I passed during my walk had people in their yards, working on their gardens, or raking up their leaves. Old people. At that age, I always had a peaceful feeling come through my heart while watching old people – an amazing feat in itself, as my post traumatic stress disorder was especially strong that year of my life, and I was always afraid.

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Old people didn’t have to go to school. They didn’t have to go to work. They didn’t need to worry about clothes, or hairstyles, or… Sure, they may have been watching as their friends and family died one by one – sad – but they didn’t have to concern themselves with things expected, dreams, or goals, or grades that others were constantly asking of them.

I always felt there was some peace in those last years, that I certainly didn’t feel at the age of seventeen, and I envied them. I really did.

And in those days, though I had the youth, and the health, and the time, that I can only long for now, I wished… I wished to know what it meant to be on the other side of life. Peace. Calm. Rest.

Perhaps it was that longing that eventually brought my husband and I together – though I certainly could not have imagined at the time that I would marry someone 24 years to the month older than me. But there is a settling, a stability, an acceptance, that he has which I long for still.

And do you know? Despite being nearly forty years old now, I still long for what I saw in those days – the age where I can finally be free.

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