Today I saw a man standing on the side of the road.
He was overweight. Scruffy. Wearing mismatched clothes and carrying a ragged backpack.
As I glanced over at him I noticed he was talking to himself. In a rather animated way, arms moving, head shaking.
He was standing there, waiting to cross the road. I was at the cross road, across the street from him waiting for a break in traffic to join the long stream of cars heading out of town.
I was transfixed. Looking at that man.
10 years ago I would have seen a crazy man yelling at the cars, never giving him another thought.
But today, with Boo sitting next to me nomming on the new duster I bought (sigh… should have bought two, one for the car and one for dinner) my heart lurches looking at that man in awe.
Independence. He has independence. No-one hovering, he is out alone, crossing the street alone, perhaps on the way to KFC directly opposite him. Just the busy highway away.
I imagine him going in and ordering. Paying for his food. Putting the rubbish in the bin and leaving to cross that road again to go home.
The cars are banking up behind me, Boo humming New York New York while ingesting the duster. I need to leave and stop watching and I reluctantly put the car in gear and move off.
Be careful what you wish for Kelley.
We were pregnant together, my best friend and I. Baby books and bottles. We did it together. T rolled over and sat up and did all the milestones on time. Boo rolled over, crawled, cut his first tooth and recited the alphabet all at once, 8 months. Boo was writing his name obsessively at 12 months, T would only eat the chalk. My best friend thought that something was wrong with her daughter, I told her that T was normal. But secretly thought Boo was a genius.
One day we were chatting over coffee, T and Boo playing in the sand. T was eating it, Boo writing words with a stick. I told her that I wished he could stay this way forever. A baby. A toddler. Forever. I didn’t want him to grow up.
The day he was diagnosed with Autism I called her. She reminded me of that time.
‘Be careful what you wish for Kelley’
I am careful now.