August 30, 2017 § 1 Comment
I have two countries – England and Spain.
I have one neurology – I am autistic. I am not a person with autism, or half/ almost neurotypical. I can do neurotypical communication ( to a point) but mainly I’m guessing; smiling and filling the gaps.
For the longest time it seems my being Spanish in England/ English in Spain provided cover for a deeper cause of my alienation. An alienation (which being an undiagnosed autistic) I hadn’t ever fully identified.
This brings to mind a set of Russian dolls, nesting as they do, concealing and revealing everything and nothing. They are empty after all – containing only one another. But let’s not even begin the Russian side of my family history. That’s the smallest doll in any case – the final solid figure you get to at the end of the game.
Conundrums are everyday stuff when you’re autistic, I reckon. At least they are for me. I suspect we do paradox especially well. Right now I write this post in Spain – after a long period of visiting other places for other reasons – and I am home in ways I cannot feel in England. Yet in truth England has been the more lived in of the two counties.
I, being autistic understand that I am socially different. I love my people intensely – those friends and family who make me feel safe. My relationship to place feels as though it may be unusually powerful.
As I returned to the streets of Donostia or San Sebastián as it’s known in Castilian (last visited as a child) I experienced a deep sense of homecoming.
Bizarrely, or maybe not so, it has been the street furniture that’s called to me like an old friend. Railings and lampposts regail me. Pavements wink and wave. I am transported to my past self. Reconnected to my true self? I don’t know.
I only know that I feel me in ways that cannot be pathologized. Open sport on who I am is simply closed. In the Basque Country I feel no judgement. This is because I am on holiday rather than trying to make a life for myself, I know. But it is also a break from online bickering which sadly characterises debates around autism these days.
I’ve been saddened to watch from Spain as fellow autistics have fallen out. There has also been ignorance on display by one ‘celebrity doctor’. Oh please! They are nobody, yet people seem to listen. Such is celebrity.
People seem to think autism is up for grabs, trivial, something open for comment.
So I’m happiest communing with the pavements of Donostia. They don’t judge. They never did. Acceptance is written into the street lamps – they mercifully remain the same.
Unchanging they embrace me. They carry me back, to simpler times.