Asperger’s. What image comes to mind when I think of Asperger’s? That’s easy. Meltdowns. Actually, the moments preceding a meltdown… when I knew it was coming and there wasn’t a thing I could do about it and I needed all my strength to just stay together while Teddy fell apart. But I did fall apart too, more often than I liked. Not falling apart was more like a goal I strived for each time a meltdown was imminent.
Ordinarily I don’t let myself think about all the times I fell apart. Best left forgotten. In many ways Teddy falling apart is best left forgotten too.
Is it a coping mechanism, forgetfulness? For I want to paint a picture for you of a meltdown but as I try to remember, my mind is blank, there is a void. All my memories are stored in files and I can’t retrieve the Meltdown File?
As I try harder to remember, I’ve been transported to a dark, windowless room with a low ceiling. Where I am is confining, like on the submarine, yet, at the same time I am aware of its vastness, as if the space could go on forever.
Directly in front of me is a waist-high oak counter. Behind the counter is a desk. It’s one of those ancient metal desks that seem to appear in most institutional offices. Behind the desk is row after row of dark-grey, five-drawer metal filing cabinets. The room appears to go on indefinitely with no back wall in sight and every 10 feet or so there is a single fluorescent ceiling fixture providing a minimal amount of light.
There is a woman sitting at the desk. She appears to be in her mid-thirties, petite with curly, chin-length, strawberry blonde hair. She is alone and reading a book. She spots me and immediately pops up out of her chair and approaches the counter. She is wearing a hot pink sleeveless cotton top over a pair of white Capri pants. On her feet is an almost golden colored pair of ballet flats. I notice her shoes because of the way she walked. In the six feet she crossed to reach the counter she bounced on the balls of her feet with the lightness of a dancer.
I’m struck by her perkiness. I had expected a slow, resentful movement. The kind you so often see associated with the people in institutional offices outfitted with cold metal desks. But no. The contrast of this young, energetic woman dressed in bright colors in such a dark, dank room was striking and intriguing. How did she get here?
We arrived at our respective sides of the counter simultaneously. Smiling, with a dimple just above the tip of each side of her upturned lips and eyes brighter than any light in the room, she greeted me with an enthusiasm that matched her movement. She didn’t speak my name but I knew she knew me. There was a familiarity. I have been here before.
Come Monday: The quest for the Meltdown File continues.