East End Beach, Portland, Maine
Sometimes, keeping an open mind can be a good thing. My friend N drops me off in Monument Square in Portland once a month to enjoy myself while he goes to a meeting. Then we meet afterwards for dinner. With four hours to kill, I often run out of time by the last hour or two. Not that I mind; I love being in Portland. This time, though, there was no chance of running out of things to do.
The first thing I saw when I stepped out of the car was a huge blue tent that said U.S. Cenus on it. The census people were there to give information and promote the census. Their tables were full of free T-shirts, caps, pens, keychains, tote bags and what have you. Something novel! Something different! Already, it was exciting.
The weather was a beautiful 65 degrees and sunny. Monument Square was full of people. They were waiting, of all things, for a parade of topless women scheduled to start in a few minutes. Apparently, the women were protesting that men could take off their shirts in public, and they couldn't. When it started, hundreds of people followed them down from Monument Square to a park about a quarter mile away. It was quite a sight to behold! Men as well as women marched, so it wasn't like the women were all in one place.
There were maybe a dozen of them, roughly speaking. The crowd was both male and female. But, it is worth saying, only the men had cameras! Tons of people crowded around them in Tommy's Park, taking pictures. It was so crowded you could hardly see them. The women did not seem to mind; they expected this. It was a very peaceful crowd. I got tired of it quickly and returned to Monument Square to get away from the people.
I talked to the census people for a while, who were quite friendly. One was from Europe and we discussed how different social issues played out differently in the two places. I sat on a bench and enjoyed the sun and the breeze for a while. Then I walked back to the park, where I met a friend of mine I hadn't seen in three years. I had used to see him a lot around Portland when I lived there.
We talked for an hour, and then I left to continue down Exchange Street. There was a guy playing Grateful Dead songs on the street corner! I was in heaven. I thought to myself "I wish they would play 'Uncle John's Band,' and lo and behold without me even saying that, it was their next song! I danced as they sung and left when they stopped. Just one more reason why I love Portland!
I walked down to the water and bakery. Along the way, I saw a man selling stained glass. I usually don't go for crafty things, but the multi-colored peace symbol reminded me of something from my childhood. I felt drawn to it, and ended up buying it.
My friend N came by around 5 to pick me up and we joined our other friends at the East End beach. We walked around for a bit and took pictures, and then went to Whole Foods for dinner. They went to see a movie while I did my grocery shopping. I was exhausted when I finished. I'd been out and about in constant activity for almost ten hours at that point. What a day!
The autism connection:
As we drove home, I thought how I could make this a blog about flexibility and adaptability. For example, not knowing what I would do when I got to Portland but trusting I'd find something to do (flexible). The original plan was for N to take me home before the movie, but I hadn't gotten to Whole Foods by then and we decided to spend more time at the beach and for me to do my grocery shopping when they were at the movie, even though it meant me staying out two hours longer than I'd intended (adaptability).
My friend had to cope with some changes to our plans too that took him a little while to adust to. We all have different tolerance levels for unpredictability and schedule plans. We all have different coping mechanisms for dealing with them. I myself need to have everything planned out pretty exactly. I am far from a spur of the moment person. But I can make minor adjustments if, and this is the big key, IF, I am given time to process them and think them over before comitting to them. I just have to "re-tweak" my brain and then I can usually do the unscheduled thing. But it definitely doesn't come automatically, and only works for small things. And I definitely don't like it, nor would I be able to do it all the time. For me, preparation is king. My brain needs to be mentally oiled for everything I do. I need to imagine what will happen, the possibilities, and prepare myself for the varous stimuli I will feel and have to respond to. Otherwise, a state of huge overwhelm comes immediately. This isn't an obsessive thing, this is a real thing. It's the way my brain works, and I don't mind taking care of my brain and body in this way so I can function optimally.
Anyway, it was a great day, but I think I need a little less in one day next time. :)
To see pictures of my adventures, and Portland in general, please click here. I just put together a slide show of my beloved city.
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