Lingering (Preconceived) Notions

August 7, 2014
Last Tuesday, Robert and I hurried to his horseback lesson. We studied longer than I expected. Then he had to change his shorts into long pants needed for riding. I quickly changed into more suitable clothes. We drove to the barn only to learn that the lessons were canceled for the rest of the month. Robert was not happy and in one 3 second long sound expressed his disappointment. Still, he left a bag of carrots for horses and returned to the car.
As I started the car, Robert suddenly pulled my shirt as if he wanted to take it off. “What are you doing? Stop it now”, I said. It was clear that Robert was angry. But after my scolding, he gave up and for the rest of the ride home he didn’t pay any attention to my shirt. He was calm and quiet. I, on the other hand, was petrified with the sudden appearance of this strange behavior. It had never happened before. And there was clearly no reason for it, thus I resigned myself to considering it a new symptom of the autistic disorder.
Every time, Robert does something, I don’t understand, I feel a new chasm opening between us. I felt it then and there.
The only way to recover from that feeling was to do something “normal”, something we do often and without special effort. So I suggested to Robert to go to a supermarket. we needed a few things including some of his favorite pablano peppers. He usually likes going shopping. But that Tuesday, Robert didn’t want to go to any of the supermarkets I suggested. He responded by saying, “Home, home,” every time I mentioned the name of the store. So, we came home. Robert took his IPAD to watch Grease, his latest favorite movie and disappeared in his room. I made myself a cup of tea and sat at the table.
Only then did I notice that I wore my embroidered, fancy shirt inside out with all the multicolored stitches hanging out in a rather messy way. Robert pulled my shirt to alert me to my breaking the dress code. He was angry, that I didn’t understand. He was mad that I even DID NOT TRY to understand. Maybe , he felt too that my own assumption about his behavior are the impossible to conquer obstacles in communication with me. He was quiet but he wasn’t calm. He gave up. Moreover, he was too ashamed of my attire to walk with me to any of his favorite stores. After all, people knew him there. He had his image to maintain.

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