And start thinking.
Well I’ve thought about this topic for about 3 years now. I’ve attended counseling. I’ve been bitter. I’ve researched. I’ve given up on thinking and tried to forget. I’ve dwelled. I’ve tried to understand. And still I am not sure if I’ll ever fully grasp why he didn’t tell me when we were dating, but I once dated a brilliantly minded man who, at the time, had recently been diagnosed with a form of high-functioning Autism called Asberger’s Syndrome.
I grew up attending the same elementary school as my ex-boyfriend, we were in the same Kindergarten, 3rd grade, and 6th grade classrooms. We lived in the same neighborhood and rode the same bus to and from school. In all honesty, he was not someone I paid much attention to when we were young. However, I knew exactly who he has. He was the boy that sat quietly at the front of the school bus, the boy that constantly had his nose in a Captain Underpants comic novel. He was the boy that was goofy, intriguing, and that I never took the chance to get to know as a young girl.
That all changed when I was a freshmen in college attending orientation with my parents. I was nervous, overwhelmed with the idea of starting over and finally growing up into the person I was ready to become. I was drunk on the idea of leaving my past behind and reinventing my image after a less than dreamy high school experience. I think now, I can finally see that almost everyone feels that way. With an exception for those post-high school grads that cling to the past. My advice to all you, move on. let go. How about we let the seniors be seniors. There is no need to compete any longer. I was so scared though, fearing what all was to come.
As a part of initiation at college orientation, I had to go take a dorky photo to be plastered to my university i.d. card. As I was waiting in the long line of hopeful’s like myself, he walked into the room. Wow! It had been so long, but instantly I knew who he was. I let all the memories from my childhood rush in, but was quickly pulled back to reality by the grouchy university photographer signaling it was my turn to have my awkward photo snapped. After I finished, I glanced at him and saw that he was looking back at me. I smiled and walked out the door. I was awkward and nervous and had no idea why I couldn’t bring myself to stand there and talk to him and catch up. He was all grown up and a completely different version of the chubby, little boy I used to once know. In 6th grade, I had moved to a neighboring suburb and attending a different school. We didn’t keep in touch once I moved, so it had been years since we had seen one another. I worked my way back to my parents in the memorial union lobby. We were standing there chatting, when he walked right up to me. He was so confident, giving me this long hug. He told me I looked great and that we should catch up. Instantly, I knew there was something. More to this story…
Long story short, a sold football ticket later, another long embrace, and he was taking me out on dates. We went to coffee shops, dinner dates, movie dates, long walks around campus, my dorm room…(how awkward), his fraternity’s formal, Valentine’s Day, his birthday, my birthday, we even went back to our hometown together to meet the parents. We tried so hard to make it good. We were both so new at the dating scene. There was something I felt that caused a small amount of tension, like an awkwardness I couldn’t pinpoint. My friends tried to be accepting, but I knew each of them didn’t understand what I saw in him. I felt angry to have to explain myself, I liked him because he was kind and liked me back. He kissed me behind closed doors, held my hand and embraced me in public, he didn’t care who saw, he was proud to be with me, picked me up and dragged my ass home when I was a drunken mess, he was emotional with me, he took me on creative dates, he cared. He was intriguing. He thought different than I did. He had a completely different perspective on things.
We dated for about 6 months, but things finally came to a close when I knew he wasn’t being himself. It all blew up in our faces when I found out that he was lying to me to avoid hanging out. There was something going on and I couldn’t get him to open up to me about it. I was confused and hurt. We ended up crying together in my driveway on a hot summer night when he told me he didn’t think he could be together anymore. He asked me to give him time to figure things out, but I am not the type of girl to allow someone time to decide whether or not I was good enough. I told him I could give him a week to get his shit together and decide if he wanted to open up to me. A week later, he still didn’t know. So in an angry rage, I ripped off the necklace he had boughten for me on Valentine’s Day, threw it at him, and got out of his car. I left a part of me behind in his passenger seat that day. I thought it was bad, but it wasn’t until a few days later that everything came crashing down.
Long story short and a few details removed, I found out that the man I had been dating had been diagnosed with Asberger’s Syndrome his senior year of high school and had been struggling with coming to terms with it.
He was ashamed to tell me, so he didn’t. For all of that time. Through all of the emotions I struggled with. It came down to that.
We don’t speak much anymore, but if he only knew how much I still think about him and his beautiful mind. He taught me much more than he’ll ever realize. Most importantly, he taught me to forget all that I knew of “normal” or what society expected of me. He taught me to embrace my quirky side and to let go of trying to impress everyone of a false sense of myself.
I’ll always love who he was when he was with me.