Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Random Bench Guy June 2018

Random  Bench Guy for the Win, Downtown Portland on a Tuesday afternoon, 6/12/18 5pm

When I got downtown around  5pm today, there were people playing music and handing out voting guides in Monument Square.  I put my stuff on a bench nearby, intending to talk to them. But as I waved a quick acknowledgement of the non-descript middle  aged guy sitting on the bench, it started a conversation. It started out as a quick comment about the music,and then morphed into a conversation about voting and then our personal lives, which is my favorite kind of conversation.

I told him I hadn't tried that hard to figure out where to vote since  I knew I'd have trouble going in any building.  This was interesting to him and spurred more conversation. But first we talked about geography - he's from North Carolina  and Florida but lived in Maine most of his adult life - pain issues, adjusting to life issues,even chemical sensitivity which he said he shared. He related how much he hated the air fresheners on rental cars! I could certainly relate to that. We talked 60s music and  Marvin Gaye jokes and Jewish and family history, all sorts of things. ( I asked him if he  asked "What's going on?" when  Marvin Gaye died. He  told me I was a funny gal.)

I loved him. He was unfailingly honest, authentic, and emotionally expressive.  His voice expressed authenticity  and emotion. We just connected. For  an hour, we connected. I felt sad to not be able to make it last longer, and see him again, but he was exactly the kind of angel  I needed today to feel heard.

But mostly, he was perceptive in a way that so few people are. In fact,  I have rarely met someone so perceptive. It started when he asked me "Do you think it gets harder going into buildings the more time goes on?" when most people put on a smiley face and ask "Oh, but it gets easier the more you  do it,  right?" No.  For most situations -- No, it doesn't. I was floored ( no pun intended!) that he got this.
Then when we were talking about doing a comedy open mic, and I did my standard "pretend to be interested and act like you'll follow through because it's easier than explaining why it will never happen" routine, he  actually said "But that would involve going into a building, so you probably won't do it,  right?"And I said yes, yes, once again,you are very insightful and completely right.

So then we were talking about, I forget what, but I brought up my autism advocacy. He said "I thought it might be something like that," which I liked, and when I asked him what he had noticed in me to make him think that,he said "Your eye contact.  You look at me when I'm talking, but you look away when you're talking."

I had never noticed that before!! I was blown away. Both by his perception and his willingness and ability to share his honest thoughts!
I always tell people to sit in front of me so I can see them.
Most of the time, when the conversation is easy anyway, I LIKE looking into people's eyes.
I was almost worried I somehow didn't fit into  the ASD category because of it.
But I never noticed that  I often look  away when                                               talking to someone else. It makes it easier  to process what I'm saying, I guess.
So I guess  I'm aspie after all lol.

So this random guy on a bench could tell me what fifteen years of therapists, psychiatrists and other mental health workers couldn't.

When I say I get better feedback and support from random people  downtown than anyone in the mental health field,  I  really mean it.  This is by far the best  example yet, and most people don't  rise quite to this level, but the  authenticity and emotional availability is what I like about my random connections with people downtown.

I take off my hat to this lovely gentleman, and wish more people  were like him.

Just another day in Monument  Square! =)

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