Saturday, April 12, 2014

Walking Through Your Fears, or What a Bizarre Day I Had Today

"The only way out is through."
"Leap, and the net will appear."

"Compassion is the act of appreciating another's challenges and appreciating how hard they have to work to overcome them."

Those two quotes played in my head constantly in this wild roller coaster of a day that I just had. They proved to be very apt. The third is something that has been going through my mind since someone said to me and has done a lot to change my self image from that of shame to something more and far different and better.

It is no secret that I do not like the house I am living in. It is moldy and affects very much my physical and emotional health. It is also not on a bus line and is difficult to get back to. I am working to try to find a place to live in Portland but that is challenging. I feel good in Portland and terrible here, so. Not good.

Meanwhile, though, I had a profoundly changing and self growth filled day today. I am still stunned.

When I left the house, I spent 2 hrs at True North in Falmouth trying to get myself calm enough to do, well, anything. For once the crisis hotline was actually useful and I used them as a way to try to center myself before going out and doing, well, something. In other words, I had no idea what, I just wanted to be at a stable place mentally!

I didn't quite notice how warm it was when I first got outside. I thought maybe it was 50 maybe even 60 but it'd be windy when I got into Portland so I might as well bring my coat.

I stepped off the bus in Portland into a different world. "Why am I so warm?" I thought to myself, even carrying my coat. I dropped my stuff off at the nearest bench and couldn't believe my eyes when I saw the time and temperature sign. *71.* It was SEVENTY ONE DEGREES on April 11 when less than two weeks ago, it was still snowing. Yesterday and the past few days have been in the 40s.

Portland was *exploding* with people. Every single one of them in t-shirt and short sleeves, summery dresses, milling about, singing, dancing, vibrating, living. It was like someone had flipped the on switch for Portland.

After I spent about half an hour walking up Congress as far as the Eastland and back and wandering Monument Square with my mouth dropped open, in my t-shirt, still somehow WARM, *in my t-shirt*, I finally went inside.

S*** was working so I spent a few hours hanging out there, thinking and talking to her and having some very good conversations. When I left, on the spur of the moment I remembered that Tribes was going on at Portland Stage. I decided to go, and bought the $10 pass thing you can get if you're under 35. It was a few blocks up. In the lobby, I spotted a woman standing by the TV screen with messages about the play. I approached her and started with a casual "I've heard good things about the play" to see if she was interested in conversation. She was, and a conversation of increase depth and meaningfulness ensued. In the course of this 5 or 10 minute conversation struck up with a complete stranger at a play which was only the 2nd time I had ever done in 7 yrs I learned, among other things, that she was "fixing up a studio apartment" for her college aged son in her house because, as the TV screen showed, flashing relevant information about themes in the play, "millenials" often have trouble finding jobs. Or something. All I know is it was one of the themes in the play, and it resonated with her. The conversation ended with her giving me her name and phone number and saying I could call her about a possible room to rent and oh yeah "do you have mild autism? I used to work with people with developmental disabilities." I had mentioned Asperger's already in the conversation, of course, but still. What are the chances of going to a crowded busy play and happening to find or strike up a conversation with the one person in the room who's up for it, may have a room to rent and has autism experience? In the 15 min before the play starts? Do I have a good sense for people or what? I am starting to think I am really good at this. Screw not reading social cues. I seem to have a knack lately for finding the people who I can connect with in a crowd and actually doing it. Knock on wood.

 I didn't stay for more than 5 minutes of the play - not intentionally - because apparently, people use a LOT more perfume on a Friday night performance than a Sunday matinee, so I left after 5 minutes. But the ticket was cheap and I had already seen the play, so it didn't matter. I left feeling like I had done what the universe had wanted me to do, like I had fulfilled my purpose anyway, without having known what it would be.

I walked down to whole foods because I needed a resting and re-centering point. I didn't want to go back to Yarmouth because the house has been so awful for me and I needed a break. So I had called someone I had just met on Tuesday (well, I met her months before but only once for a few minutes), who I just met but love, and who immediately told me I could "crash on her couch."

Well, I am certainly not the type to "crash on someone's couch," but I so desperately wanted to just try. Just push myself a little and try. I hadn't been to her house and I still get scared going to people's houses because of fragrance and chemical issues, let alone staying there overnight. Plus, I had to take a bus there, I had a lot of stuff to carry, I was a 15 min walk away and the last bus of the night was at 930, half an hour away, and I hadn't eaten anything yet.

But, after making one limited attempt at assessing another option, I decided to do it. The only other option was to find a way back to Yarmouth and I didn't feel like doing that .I knew it would be uncomfortable staying there but I felt like the universe was calling me to try.

Let's just say that a) you can get from whole foods to the elm street bus station remarkably fast if you take the elm st route instead of pearl and b) there WAS NO #2 bus at 930. Or more accurately, the powers that be had decided that they would combine route 6 and route 3 at night and call it the 6-3 and for some reason put that on the #2 schedule for 930.

I got to the bus and she told me that the bus didn't go to Woodford's Corner. I'm like, what? She told me it did, even the other woman did, etc. She eventually figured out that if I got off at Woodford St I could get there, but she wasn't sure how long of a walk it was - she figured maybe a mile.

I decided to take the chance and got onto the very crowded and rather overwhelming bus. I wasn't able to figure out where I was going or how to get there, only that there seemed to be a decent chance of the bus eventually going somewhere near where I wanted to go.

It wasn't, as I would find out a #3 or a 6 or a 2. It was a combination of them all trying to conserve drivers for late night (yes, 930 is late night in Maine) bus routes.

Now, I pretty much suck at geography even if it's daylight in an area I know pretty well. But when it's dark and you're on some bus you've never taken before, going to some location you've never been, that gets a little interesting. Even with a very friendly and helpful driver.

For some reason she couldn't tell me WHERE Woodford St was. She couldn't tell me when we'd get there, or how many stops. She couldn't tell me how long it would take to get to my destination when we did finally get there. All she could do was point me in the right direction.

Sounds a lot like life in general, doesn't it?

I calmed myself down and stayed calm, thinking of the all too obvious metaphors for life as we went along. And went along. And went along some more. I didn't even know most of the places she called out. But I knew when we got to Northgate Plaza - which was nowhere near anything. We ended up going all the way to PRIDE'S CORNER and back - on the border of Westbrook, on a bus I had thought would take me directly to my destination, which was only 2 mi away down the street from the starting point.

Hmm. That reminds me of that graphic on Facebook that says something like "what we expect life to be like (straight line). What it actually is (squiggly line).

It was like feeling your way through something in the dark. Siting there trying to make sense of where I was and when we would g et there. I joked Dennis on the phone "well if I have to be lost , at least this time I'm lost in my own state..." lol. It felt like Oregon... in Maine.

Anyway, an hour and ten minutes after we started, we finally got to the point where she said it was well-lit and I could walk along a sidewalk to get there (but she didn't know how far). To woodford's corner that is. Isn't that just life - someone can point you in the right direction and try to make sure your way is well-lit, but they can't walk the road for you.

I bravely got off and started in that direction. And promptly saw a #4 bus sign ... lol if I had known the Westbrook bus went there that'd have been a hell of a lot easier. I just laughed.

It was only a 5 min walk to the Dunkin Donuts. I called my friend, E, and she came to get me. Laughed with me. Hugged me, even, in a gesture that felt familiar and wonderfully symbolic - not bad, for once. We got to her house, and I was relieved to find how comfortable I felt in it. Wood and tile floors, lots of nice character, quiet, smell free. She actually had dinner for me! Dinner  I could even EAT! We sat at the table and had a lovely dinner and conversation together, and I really liked her and felt so wonderful with her.

And her living room had a lava lamp, a record player, and a tie dye throw. I don't think they were hers but MAN! Someone awesome owns that house. Throwback to the 60s!

Alas, I soon found out the couch was not going to work to sleep on, both from a fragrance but especially comfort standpoint. At first I was going to tough it out but realized how stupid that would be if there was any other option. Destroying my back and not getting any sleep seemed a stupid thing to willfully choose. So I thought about it and decided to overcome my fear of taxis and call a taxi, which I swore I wouldn't do before because of fragrance issues in cabs. The guy who runs Green Cab, which, like my friend, I had found out about/met in whole foods, had said that he really liked the people who ran yellow cab.  I didn't have internet or phone or a number so I called Dennis in florida to google it for me. At 1am. =)

Taxi dispatchers are always hurried and impatient by nature, as I remembered from when I used to take cabs in 2007. Same this time. Phone didn't work, he couldn't hear me, so I had to text him. I only learned how to text on my phone like a week ago, too. I was so nervous about taking the cab!
And thankful I had remembered the address.

When it came, I was relieved to step in it and get a good, safe energy from the driver and realize that it was at least tolerable fragrance wise.

We small talked about the weather for several minutes, and I mentioned when he asked that I did some volunteer work at the Maine Jewish Museum.

At this he got very excited and told me he was Jewish too. I was pretty surprised - Portland doesn't have much of a Jewish population. Not only that but he was from Israel. So what are the odds of getting what had to be the only Israeli Jewish cab driver in the whole state  the first time i took a cab in 7 yrs? He also has a room to rent, and knows someone I know, so after checking with that person about him I will look into it.

That'd be an awfully funny story to tell about finding a place to live, lol.

What a day, I got home around 2am. It's now 330 .I am supposed to go to Boston tomorrow for autism thing but not sure.

What a day!!!! What a wonderful day of growth ,of learning and of being in the world. May it happen again soon and may I find a way to be in Portland so I don't have to find a way to get back to a house that makes me sick every night.

Peace to all.

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