Coming Out Alive; a Continuing Narrative.
“Normal in a Different Way.” part 1
by Thomas Eugene Krawford Jr.
At what point did I first realize a narrative of my life experiences would ultimately have to be the key to any attempt on my part, to successfully engage the attention of any Department of Communications and Theater Arts; in hiring me as a part-time, virtual, adjunct lecturer?
That is a good and timely question; as well as one with both an easy and not so easy way to answer.
Let’s start with the easy way.
Since I was fourteen years old, as we suspect from earlier sections; somewhere in the archives of this platform; the question of where my commitments are right now and where I see them going can be easily answered when we remember that back then; when I was an idealistic nouveau adolescent who believed the workings of the world could be best understood by reading and understanding books.
Back then, in those, what feels like from these days’ vantage point; halcyon days of young adulthood; when I curiously announced to my Mother, while reading my father’s college textbooks on psychology and adolescent development; that I would one day have to learn about life because up until then, I felt so much of “my real life” had been kept from me; I distinctly remember my Mother’s response:
“I know you think you’re not normal sometimes, but you are normal; just in a different way,” I remember her saying one day when she and I were alone in the apartment; she, making dinner, while I read; and tried to understand college textbook jargon far beyond my grade at the time.
“You have your own path to follow and find the path to follow it!”
These days, looking back at past moments like those, I understand that Autism is and always has been normal; it’s only normal in a different way; not where Autism and normalcy are considered mutually exclusive terms; but where Autism is just another way of being human; no more and no less.
Today, I am constantly reminded of what I feel is the gist of what my mother tried to say, years ago in our Michigan suburban apartment. Namely, everyone’s path in life leads to the same destination; but since all our paths are different, we are all unique; unique all the way down to the least common individual outcomes of ourselves and our beliefs; echoes of the worlds around and within us.
Fast forward to last Saturday, February 5, 2022; the date I fell off the loading dock at work!
If the destination of “normal” is the same for all of us; then isn’t what makes us all unique as individuals, that constancy of occurrence across so many possible paths to that one destination we all have in common? Yet, what happens when you get caught straddling multiple different worlds; those of rich and poor, Black, and White; neurotypical and neuro-atypical; or even Gay and Straight; especially when code-switching does not work well enough for balancing on an icy, well-worn edge.
It’s like what happened to me last Saturday at work.
Do You unwittingly fall off a loading dock; potentially only, slightly injuring yourself, if you are lucky; or do you learn and apply much more advanced strategies of Switching Codes between realities that otherwise are diametrically opposed; in order to steer clear of disasters like falling off a loading dock backward; when physical fatigue; a broken loading dock door in a loading dock where there is no room to move; coworkers who have figured out how to scam THE MAN, because THE MAN’s purpose is to scam their employees; all appear, at least to the paranoid eye; to line up against You ever doing your job to the best of your perceived ability; and isn’t that perceived ability one that makes any kind of sacrifice worthwhile; at least to the subject-observer?
Normal in a different way; there are so many paths to normal, but which one is the right one?
That’s the question that lingered on my mind as I watched the sad face of the Housing Security Officer wish me good luck; just as the doors of the ambulance closed and I was whisked away; the waning winter’s afternoon daylight edging along the roofs and tree-lined landscape of Church Street.
“Now, what?” I thought.
(end of part 1)