If this entry seems to start in the middle....then too bad, lol. You'll pick it up. Background though - I have chemical sensitivity and haven't gone into most stores for many years. Until now.
So many thoughts, so little brain space to think them! I was worried we'd have too much time in Portland (along with a whole host of other worries) but it wasn't the case. The weather was fine, a little windy at Monument Sq but warm the rest of Portland. I don't know, it was like I was driven. Rob and I went into the cupcake place in Public Market to see what they had, then we separated. My plan was to go into as many shops as I felt I comfortably or reasonably could, with a little effort of course. I was impatient to start, before my resolve ebbed away. The 5 minute walk to the Old Port never seemed so long.
I started with Bull Moose Music, since that was on my list of potential places, and being on Middle St, comes up first when you're walking towards the Old Port.
I just did it... I went in... down the stairs, even.... it definitely was a little fragrance-y but it was the type I could handle. I think it was incense being sold, but not much in the way of perfume or building smells, etc. I asked if they had any old VHSs "Do we ever!" they said, and directed me to a stack of them so huge it was spilling out on to the floor, stacked in random piles. Thirty cents EACH! Did you ever think we'd come to a time when they'd go so cheap?
I found about six that looked interesting, mostly ones I had seen years ago and thought were worth watching again. Tim Allen's Jungle 2 Jungle being my favorite out of the pack. =) Then I wandered for a few minutes, some of the country stuff was going quite cheap but I don't need any country CDs. A very nice employee helped me find both Hermans Hermits and Loving Spoonful (60s) CDs, used, for cheap, $6-8 each (which is compared to used online with shipping, which I was planning on doing anyway) and that was good. They had some funny magnets. I was surprised how long I could stay.
When I got out, I didn't waste too much time thinking about it other than to take a few deep breaths. Again, I wanted to find the next place before my nerve ran out. I think the next place I saw was this gift shop on the corner of Exchange and Fore that I had been wanting to go in to for ages. Let's just say their windows are a LOT cooler than the store! But the store wasn't that bad either. Then I was on Commercial, bypassing Fore, and I happened upon the dog specialty store Fetch!
What I have not been able to before, at least not in the last 5 years or so, is have the courage or strength of mind to open the door to a shop (or even step inside an open one) and *check* to see if any smells immediately meet my nose that would be offensive. I was just too scared to be exposed to anything at all before. But between now and last time I think Ive checked most of the stores in the Old Port that look interesting. Several were no's, but I was ABLE to take that "Eww, that smells bad," step away and stop it at that. Not go any further. The ones where I stepped in and nothing offensive seemed to be present, I took another step, until I was fully immersed. Re-assessed. If still okay, be glad and look around. Or if it's only a little ok, try to shut off my brain and look around *quickly.* lol.
So, longer story short, man I've never been into a specialty dog store and that was weird! Got a couple dog treats for my stepmom's dogs. Crowded, too.
That was the point I think I met up with Amber. I was so tired, I felt just well it wasn't good but it wasn't horrible, it was more of a "I have to push through this" feeling, "I WILL do what I came here to do , and I CAN and am completely capable of doing what I came here to do." The physical discomfort was there, but it was more background than usual. Which was nice.
We did the Maine Pantry on Commercial, I got some candy sticks to give out on the bus, Amber got a salted caramel.
From there it wasn't far to Standard Bakery on one end of Commercial, where I got a baguette for my dad. It's his favorite. A homeless person approached us for money. I didn't have any cash, but I had the bakery person cut off a good piece of the baguette and put it in a bag to give him on the way back. He accepted it (we wondered if he would), but definitely seemed confused. Apparently, people don't give baguettes to the homeless very often.
Back up Exchange, I spotted Something Fishy, a tourist oriented gift shop that's been around since I was a child and used to be a favorite of mine as a child. "I wonder if I can go in there," I thought. So I tried. And I did. Their selection was not nearly as good as when I was a kid, but Amber and I still had fun in there. We talked to the counter person who had recently moved back to Maine from Vermont and was very nice.
Then to the toy store across the street (I've been several times in the last 2 weeks) to pick up something I thought Rob would like.
We made one last stop at Trader Joe's which was NOT a good place, and then dropped at Whole Foods - was so tired last 15-20 minutes I could barely put one foot in front of the other! Had to sit for at least half an hour when we got there to recover energy. =)
Then BBQ at my dad's for mother's day. Tried on a dress I got at WF there.
We spent three and a half hours walking around the Old Port. That is something I used to do regularly pre-MCS but haven't done since. Because you can only spend so much time there if you don't go into stores! So... another small but important piece of myself comes back to me. I like that.
I struggle between wanting or having too much stimulation and
wanting or having too little. It is hard to find that balance.
But I think, if I keep trying new things within or just out of my comfort zone, and remember the Gupta/Hopper theories, and give myself *plenty* of time to rest in between....that I might just get somewhere worth going. I hope.
Two appropriate quotes to end with
"I TOOK THE ROAD LESS TRAVELLED. NOW WHERE THE HELL AM I?"
"Thriving is not always about gaining better health. It is more about being the best that you can be at any given moment. "
If you like this, please be sure to visit my other website, Accepting Asperger's. A lot of my older writing is stored here, including an editorial I once wrote for the Baltimore Sun. Click here to see it: Accepting Asperger's.
What's it really like to be a 20 something with Asperger's? On this blog, I hope to explore that question. But this blog is not just limited to an audience of people in their 20s - this is for anyone who ever wanted to know anything about autism. I plan to delve into the nature and experience of autism, and examine it from as many angles as possible. I would like to start a conversation between people with Asperger's or autism, parents of kids with autism spectrum disorders, and anyone who just wants to know more. Let's explore what autism means, together.
My goal is to start a discussion on and build a community of people affected by autism - parents and adults with ASD - so feel free to leave your two cents in the comments section of any post. If you're too shy for that, however, or want to speak to me personally, you may feel free to email me at KGoldfie@gmail.com.
Asperger's Book for Sale
Common Scents: Adventures with Autism and Chemical Sensitivity" is the story of a young woman's search for physical and emotional safety as she journeys through the mountains of the Cascades, small coastal towns on the Oregon coast, and out-of the-way towns in upstate New York. Along the way, she experiences things she would never have dreamed possible had she stayed in her Maine hometown, and begins to learn the power of human connection.
Common Scents is the story of the last three years of my life. It gives a gripping view of what it is like to experience the world as someone on the autistic spectrum, and some would say, is an entertaining travel story as well. Because of chemical sensitivities, I engaged on a three year journey for a place I could call home.
Comments from readers:
"The Asperger's element is remarkable. I feel that I understand my son better, so much better. I laughed at this part.... because I've stared at my son in the same way for the same thing." - mother of an Asperger's kid
"Your writing style is SO engaging and interesting. It brings me right into the subject and I always experience a little emotional punch towards the end. In other words, this is the third time I've teared-up reading your work. Kate, you've highlighted ALL the problems with how social skills are usually taught." - mother of ASD kid
"I stayed up entirely too late reading the first 14 pages. I can relate to so much of what you write. I really think you are expressing the true experience with MCS and autism in words that convey the experience." person with chemical sensitivity (MCS)
"Absolutely interesting, insightful and witty. You've blended together your three themes beautifully (Asperger's, MCS and travelling). It seems seamless."