46. Memories Come in Waves

“Memories Come in Waves”

I’ve decided that in my next life, I might try being a ruthless moneymaker so that I can buy a house by the beach. We are on an overnight respite getaway at the Jersey shore, and I am so incredibly relaxed listening to the waves that I can hardly remember my own name. I’ll have to get up eventually because we didn’t have time to stop and pick up any food. But for the moment, there’s me and the waves and a cup of tea.

At the beach, we accept so many pleasant indignities. Salt spray frizzing up our hair. Sand getting into places it has no business being. And for first world problems, I give you patchy wifi and a kitchen clock that is ticking so loudly, it’s simulating the march of mortality (we removed the battery, hah). Plus it’s February, so it’s not like we are running into the water. Once the sun goes down, the very ocean that looks exciting and inviting in the daytime now seems colder and more sinister. My husband cracked up when I closed the blinds and said, “It’s the only way to ignore the siren call of the mermaids who are crooning–‘come drown in the watery depths where the bones of those who heeded us lie waiting for you.’ ” Shudder.

I feel kind of guilty for not bringing G along with us. She would love it, water creature that she is. But it is a truth of teenagers and adults who live together that occasional distance is the key to sanity. She’s very thrilled to be rid of us because she’s given up her room to the babysitter and is living it up in our master bedroom. I am picturing her lolling on the bed like a rock star, with trays of caviar around her.

We tried to sneak away before A got home from school so that we wouldn’t upset his equilibrium, but it didn’t happen that way. Instead, we were walking to the car with rolling bag rolling behind us when the school bus pulled up, and the door opened to reveal A, with a huge stripe on his face from where he had been zoning out with his cheek resting on the seat belt, and pizza sauce all over his clothes. He stood on the sidewalk and shrieked piercingly, registering the tableau before him. When we left, he was sitting on the front steps with G and the sitter, fingers in his ears.

So there we were, marveling that it had been fairly tame a departure, when my husband realized he had forgotten something, so we drove back and all of them were still sitting there, and A had to relive our confusing departure, fingers in ears, only this time, he freed up three fingers and waved at us. Who knew that repeating the process would actually calm him–he got to watch it unfold again, and the steps made more sense the second time. That is so freaking weird and cute.

He has a busy Saturday ahead of him, and I have no doubt he will enjoy himself tremendously. To be honest, I don’t want to think too much about mom stuff right now. I just want to be all up inside my own head, and read on my kindle, and listen to the ocean (shudder), and stick my feet in my husband’s lap while we coo, “You’re cuter! No, YOU’RE cuter!” I worry sometimes that we don’t seem very grown up, but it was part of the pact we made when we were courting, that we wouldn’t take ourselves too seriously.

This week marked the twenty-second anniversary of my move to the US. It’s strange to look back at that moment, when my stuff was being shipped on a slow boat, and all I had in my possession were my degrees and a beautiful letter from my mom that she instructed me to read on the plane, and that had me crying with loss and homesickness. When I landed, and wended my way past the suitcase-sniffing dogs, my husband and father-in-law were waiting for me with a Lata Mangeshkar CD so that I wouldn’t bawl in the car. 🙂 And now here we are, two decades later, sitting at the Jersey shore. I never take for granted that we are together for real. It didn’t seem doable in the beginning; we used to send each other emails from our respective universities, describing the books we were reading and unfurling our dreams of a shared life.

That shared life doesn’t look exactly as we had imagined. But it is complex and real, and I’m grateful that we have been loving enough to welcome autism into our space, strong enough to accept its realities, and trusting enough of each other to admit when we feel unmoored. Rising to this challenge is the most grown up thing we’ve ever done.

I’m giving myself up to the wave noises again. TTYL.


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