Good heavens, is it August already?
I know, I know…it’s ages since either of us has posted here. From September of last year David was living in Cornwall with the hope that a company he’d previously worked for might come up with a job. ‘Just waiting for some contracts to be signed…’ they said. ‘Maybe next month…’
The months passed, and no word came. By February we were running out of money so David went looking for another contract up-country. So different is the market there, compared with here, that he had a job within a couple of days and now we’re back to our old routine of living apart.
It’s no fun for me, it’s unspeakably hard for him and as for Ferret (remember the new kitten?) he is clearly missing his Papa-Bean.
One difference is that, rather than driving to-and-fro, David now takes the sleeper from Paddington to Penzance. More restful and much safer – which brings me to the subject of this article.
Consider the scene: I’ve not seen David for a couple of weeks. I glimpse him on the station platform and run up to him and throw myself at him. In an ideal world, he’d do the same, preferably swinging me round till my feet left the ground.
So far, so Hollywood.
But it isn’t like this for David. I might get a peck on the cheek, but sometimes just a ‘hello’. At one level I understand, he doesn’t see the world as I do: it’s that pesky autistic prism again.
Even so, I struggle.
Once he had to catch a different (non-sleeper) train which required me to drive to Plymouth to collect him. It wasn’t a pleasant drive, being on unfamiliar roads and in the dark, but I buoyed myself up by looking forward to seeing him.
I waited in the station foyer. The train disgorged. I spotted him and hurried up to him. His greeting, to the neurotypical mind, was almost dismissive. I knew that wasn’t how he meant it to feel and so, because we talk about everything, I asked him about it.
David will respond to this post with his perspective shortly but, in brief, he described to me how, being autistic, he doesn’t know how to greet me, it doesn’t mean he isn’t glad to see me, but expressing it is an intellectual process. He has to remember what to do and say, it is a conscious act.
For me, it is the opposite: it is emotionally incomprehensible that he has to jump through such hoops; intellectually, I have come to understand that for him it is different, and appreciate that he makes an effort to intersect with my world and give me, if not the sugar-coated Hollywood greeting, something that makes me feel I am loved and, most importantly, that I have been missed.