I recently became emotionally able to sort through some of the papers from my past and I came across what appeared to be a letter addressed to me. Upon opening it, I saw that it was a story, written about me after the breakup of a relationship years ago. When I read it this time, decades after it was written, it gave me some insight into myself, especially in light of my recent quest for long-ago signs of high functioning autism.
A young girl glides on the skateboard, black hair horizontal, then at rest as she stops along the non-directional journey (because of the primordial urge to seek, to know to her depths, to the squishy place where soul meets body, including but not limited to the sweet, secret plum of the future), pausing only long enough to gather up another book, whether new or old, famous or obscure. Earthsongs hum in her head, her movements are fluid and unanticipated, as she reads and skates and dreams and is.
And the incantations drilled into hard pews of the perfection of Christ and the unapproachable nature of the Virgin, these flashes and the sin snaking and laughing through the horrible brilliance of Sundaymares—all of this blends (but is also clouded by) the literature, the tug of far-off places, extreme climates, manly heroes and virtuous women in large houses, the desires of a smart girl in an unknown Southern town.
She had no mentor. Love and nurture, of course, and good food and basic essential values. If you had seen her then, or just create her now—quick-witted, prettier than most, with a wide laugh, a bit dreamy but essentially normal. The reading and the listening, the gathering of souls and sensations—these did not direct her but rather followed the glee of her self’s wanderings, the soul seeking to climb out from the warm earth into being. But the books articulated, verified, amplified the subconscious yearning, and then off to another skateboard.
She taught herself, therefore, grabbing onto the borrowed or secondhand minds, the unseen minds somehow more connected to her core than the sensing ones walking and talking and sleeping beside her. The tug of complexity kept her riding; the others, good and plain, loved her but could not calibrate themselves to her tiny but discernible changes. They saw the breezy and liquid experience (as she knew it) as quirky paradigmatic shifts, and wondered what things went on in her head.
One day she stood unclothed, before the mirror, curious and almost laughing about what boys would want so much. She placed her hands on her belly and directed herself to reverie, reverent and natural prayer (prayer really being nothing more than attention, yet so difficult to attain, so long to wait for the passive to finally assert itself), gracious and servile for the children she would someday bear in terror and wonder.
The walls of time collapsed to sand, the mirror waved before her shut eyes, and she knew she would never die but dance with the moon forever, that she had no reason to fear the pull of gravity upon her nipples. She had no conscious foretaste of the man who would dream of her, sitting in a blue chair, missing her presence with a feeling most akin to homesickness. Her mind and heart were free as she suddenly ran outside, naked and holy, running through a celebratory warm summer rain at dusky dawn, past new trees and familiar animals, until she fell asleep wherever, nothing on her belly but birdsong.
She is skateboarding again, on the limitless streets of that village of simple food and old-timey shopkeepers, gliding by the jeers and desirous eyes of spitting boys, ignored by the girls with stable hair and purring with fashion recipes, grasping a book today coverless and dogeared, found somewhere. She casts away those pages not resonating with truth she can never find yet never stop seeking with the full passion of one strangely made more peaceful with the emerging realization of the playfulness of the ruminous. But this book links her again to herself, she doesn’t hear anything as breezes split to her gracefulness, her poise only disturbed by the pile of books she smacks into.
Stunned not by pain but by its immensity, its apex surely to the tip of God’s chin she picks herself up, picks a book up, rubbing the gilt edges across her cheek. She wants them all, wants to know not merely the ideas (the capitalized ancient Truths) but also the literal script, the subtle slips of curves and dots unseen by non-seekers and pedestrian readers like myself. But she is daunted by the immensity of it all. The cogs and sprockets within her grow timid, squeak, whisper retreat. Her skateboard pants—and the razor-sharp wheels droop to immobile ellipses.
She sits and closes her eyes as a breeze rakes over where the garment gapes; the intermittence of skin flashing between two edges of the open-necked shirt, the sliver of torso between shirt and shorts, the expanse of strong legs filling her shoes. The distress within subsides, and she will make camp and settle. She picks up the book and begins to untangle the strings of words, imprinting them upon her heart in a fine hand. At the edge of town she accepts that she is a refugee with a psyche craving to be plugged by these golden words, in these golden times, before and after womanhood. The first of many falls open in her lap and she begins, at peace.
– A. Wood