Spring Break, Day 2: Site Visits
Day 2 of Charlie's Spring Break brought more rain and still more rain, so that the mega-puddle I encountered on my walk from the Journal Square PATH station to my college became a mini lagoon (and I showed up for Tuesday morning classes with dripping wet corduroys thanks to the strong wind that picked up just as the rain did—I kept Emma's comment about running into the wind and maybe being able to fly during the soggy trek). Jim and Charlie came to get me at 12.45 (an hour later than planned—a lot of rain has the effect of flooding the roadways, especially the ways in and out of Jersey City which is connected via bridges to what I guess could be called "the mainland").
Once home Charlie still wanted to go for a walk. Even when it got warm a couple of weeks ago, he still insisted on wearing his big blue parka and gloves (even with shorts). He usually needs time to transition from winter to warmer weather clothes and I took the "how important is it" tactic. I'm certainly glad I did now as Charlie wearing parka + gloves + fleece jacket underneath has probably kept him snug and dry (as much as that's possible).
After walking, and a hot shower, Charlie was game to go out. As it was (yeah, surprise) still raining, we got in the car and commenced a sort of sentimental journey.
I had been thinking of driving down to the central Jersey town where I went to college, just as a destination to go to. It happens that we once lived in a sprawling suburb about a half-hour from the town and I figured I would blend in a tour of our old environs. It also happens that one of the aides in Charlie's current classroom lives in this suburb and had mentioned to me that there is a certain Mexican fast-food take-out place there. Charlie used to love burritos from this place which has another location in a town near to where we live now. Unfortunately, our visits there became increasingly fraught with—you guessed—neurological storminess and Jim and I have come to the firm conclusion, time to take a break from that place and maybe more like a permanent hiatus.
Places and things. These often seem to be the source of strong responses from Charlie.
So I was a bit wary of taking him by the town and the suburb and the Mexican chain. It had been awhile since we visited the latter two and, certainly with all the rain, I had no intention (as I used to) of coaxing Charlie from the car for a walk round the campus. And, Charlie never having been to this branch of that Mexican chain, I wagered he might be all right.
We set off with a little R & B on the radio though it didn't take too long for the station to fade out as we were driving further away from New York and (you guessed it too) it was raining really hard. Charlie alternated sitting very seriously as we passed one old haunt after another—a certain Vietnamese restaurant and a Korean one on the opposite side of the road; the street alongside my alma mater's library and the little movie theater (the Alice in Wonderland movie and another called Vincere—which means "to conquer" in Latin and is the root word of Charlie's middle name—were playing); a big curve in the road. At one big intersection Charlie told me "that way," very adamantly. The road led to the school Charlie attended when he was in preschool and then in elementary school and he looked all around at the fields we passed. And then said "no school tomorrow" and "that way, that way," right before we reached the school.
I guess Charlie prefers to keep his memories at a bit of a distance?
I couldn't find the Mexican fast-food place which was as well; Charlie wanted to stay on the road. We ended up back on the highway we take driving him home from the Big Autism Center and then swung around to get to another Mexican fast-food chain with Charlie saying "no burrito" when we were within about 50 feet of the place. And then, once burrito, chips, and soda were procured, devouring every last bite.
Charlie was very happy and glad to be home (it was a lot of time in the car) and walking and using the computer. He ran up to his room around 7.30pm and I could hear him moving furniture and, more specifically, his queen-size bed: I found the two-piece box spring and the bed frame in Jim's and my room and Charlie's mattress on the floor. He told me to go downstairs. Then he summoned me upstairs and said "Mom, brown" and wanted me to move the metal frame back (I think). The frame on its side being taller than me (and our bedrooms not being too big) I had to move the frame back and forth and back, all the while aware of how the clank of metal does not ring well on the ears of a sound-sensitivity child and especially one who must have had Some Plan about rearranging the furniture, and that Plan had gone Awry.
Then everything went awry and very fast (keep in mind there was a huge metal structure filling up the room and a boxspring piled atop Jim's and my bed…..), and then there were three rooms in our house with medium to large-sized messes (not to mention water in our basement—four!).
I said "socks" to Charlie, nothing more, and he pulled on those, shoes, fleece, parka, gloves, and ran crying out the front door.
This last walk of the day was mostly a run for the first half (and a rather loud one). It had almost stopped raining as we made our way across the thoroughly mudded-up field. Once inside, I told Charlie I was going to work on the upstairs and he could work on the kitchen. I proceeded to get a nice workout moving the frame back and then the boxsprings, which actually are not very heavy. I went downstairs and found Charlie looking more than forlornly at the kitchen floor. Some prompting and pointing and he was picking up numerous items and putting them in their respective places. When he told me "bedtime," I noted he'd have to help me move the mattress and he did, after some confusion about how to go about holding onto the bulk of a queen-size mattress.
And then, bed.
Had there been a bit of a lag in Charlie about dealing with his feelings after seeing what could be called historical sites from his own past?
Really, I can't blame him. I always feel a certain wistfulness on seeing the stone walls of the library (where I lived hours of my college year life), and driving up Prospect Avenue, where I used to run and walk on every single day, and another brick building on whose third floor the alternative newspaper which I edited and wrote for was located. And how long has it taken me to process that experience; here I am, having graduated 20 years ago, and still feeling the urge to visit the place.
And, if I weren't able to write and talk about it (as I'm doing here), I suspect I'd have to do some grandiloquent gesture—maybe involving large pieces of furniture—too.