I have now been working from home for over a month. I know that there are people that are missing the company of other people, and the comfort of having a dedicated workspace — but I kind of like the solitude. Such is the life of an introvert.
In 1985, I was 12 years old. Because my father worked at the church, and I was pretty much there all the time, it was determined that I would attend the National Christian Youth Conference with other youth from the area (read: nearby Catholic churches). This meant participating in fund-raising and going to meetings, etc. All the other youth participating were in their mid-teens. I was basically the kid sister that was being forced on them.
Somewhere on the road to Colorado (we were on a bus), we stopped for the night at a motel that happened to be across the street from a movie theatre. After a LOT of begging, we were given permission to go see a movie if we were back by curfew. There were only two movies that met the criteria: Red Heat and Beetlejuice. Now, all the cool kids went to see Red Heat. It was Arnold and Jim (the poor man’s Belushi) in their heyday, making the most of the red-scare. I had no interest in the movie, but no one else wanted to watch Beetlejuice. As I was preparing to go back to the motel (rather than face the indignity of being a solo 12 year old watching a movie by herself), Marcos Hemmingway walked up and offered to see the movie with me.
Marcos was also a bit of an outsider on the trip, but rather than being too young, he was just a little too old. He made the age requirements for the conference (barely), but seemed to be ages older than his 16 year old counterparts. He had already made the older kids “play nice” with me a few times–since they had no desire to “babysit” the weird kid, so I was fairly comfortable with him.
“Let’s watch this movie,” he said, “that other movie looks like it’s shit.”
I was thrilled and a bit smitten. “Okay!”
So we watched Beetlejuice, and it was glorious. Tim Burton before meeting Johnny Depp! Michael Keaton at his craziest! Ingenue Winona Ryder at her teenage spookiest! And Harry Belafonte music! We danced out of the theatre singing Day-O and Shake Senora. The other kids came out of their movie several minutes later disappointed. Apparently… it was a shit movie.
I was okay with being by myself that trip. I intrinsically understood that I wasn’t a cheerleader, or an entertainer, or someone who needed attention all the time. I sat on my own for most of the trip, listening to my walkman, or reading. If not for Marcos, I would not have seen one of my favorite movies of all time. Or decided at 13 that I just wanted to dress like Lydia Deets because it was easier to match all black clothes. We didn’t know at the time that I was autistic — just that I wasn’t like the other kids. They didn’t exclude me… but they also didn’t go out of their way to include me. I understood that, and instead went about being comfortable by myself even with people around me.
And here we are.
I do miss being around people that I like to talk to, it’s not quite the same chatting over the various platforms given to me by the University. But I can still reach out to them if I feel like I want to say hi, or see what they’re up to, or even share an interesting article I read.
My “office” is a corner of my room where I’ve set up all my electronics. It’s perhaps a little too close to my every present and beckoning bed, but it works well. Indirect light is all over the room, and my cats are asleep behind me most of the day. Most of my problem stems from the lack of routine in my day. I like things structured, and not having the structure of work, and seeing people leaving for lunch, or going to teach yoga, or whatever I was used to doing makes me uneasy and a little anxious.
It would probably be easier if I had all the fam here, but due to my father-in-law breaking his leg (and limited bandwidth) it’s pretty much just me and my youngest–who is also spectrum. We talk to each other over Google Hangouts and our Google Home speakers, since we’re on opposite ends of the house. It works out pretty well, honestly.
I’m just not sure how this is going to work out when we’re encouraged to “go back to normal.” I guess it’s because I’m strange and unusual.