I always carried a deck of cards in my backpack when I was in a high school. Why? Because you never know if you needed to play a game. Whether it was Maui, Egyptian Ratscrew, or Castle, I had the key to socialization. Pull out the cards during lunchtime and play a simple game. It can get my mind off it all. It was a quintessential part of who I was then. Today, I’m reminded of this fact while I’m meeting up with on of my oldest friends whom I played cards with, Michael.
Michael was quite a character in high school. He played characters in theater. He did voice impressions, did magic tricks with a deck of cards, was a math genius (though I’m smarter grade-wise), really a jack of all trades. He played the French Horn in band, and I knew him though that. I was a simple Bass Clarinetist in high school. There weren’t very many Bass Clarinetists, so I hung out with Saxophonists, Trombonists, and you guessed it, French Hornists. (Why I didn’t hang out with Clarinets is beyond me.)
Now, you wondering how I had so many friends despite being Autistic. I had friends in Band, in Boy Scouts, in National Honor Society, in French Club, in Best Buddies, etc, the list goes on and on. The funny thing I wasn’t really close to many of them. I just saw them in their respective places and that’s it. When I was taught what best friends were in Speech Therapy, (because they included social skills for those with Autism), I thought Michael was my best friend. Why? I didn’t have a answer then.
There’s a simple answer. I told Michael I had Asperger’s when it was a secret. I felt safe when I was around him. I had options to hang out with the French Horns. I had the opportunity to feel normal. He didn’t care about my autism. He saw me as the nicest person on Earth. The meanest thing I’ve ever said is that I like blueberries because my sister’s allergic to them, so I would have them often without her. I was another genuine human being.
Autistics have special interests. I found out that one of my special interests might of been people. It explains why I was so attached to Michael, and many of my other friends. During the time of this discovery, I was attached to another friend, but we’ve healed that friendship and we are natural friends.
I might be wrong in the conjecture of being obsessed with people, because Michael and me meeting today. Simple and genuine as always. We talked about diets, school, food, movies, and even religion as he isn’t Catholic like me. I bought my deck of cards, but we didn’t play. I never mentioned the cards. I had the key to socialization the entire time: my heart. He gave me his heart. That’s why I liked him. I felt like I was obsessed with him until I left for college. Once I realized what I was to him; not a best friend, but a real friend, it changed my heart.
I mostly stopped being obsessed with people because I didn’t need to know everything about a person. I needed to know them not only as I know who they are, but rather know them in God’s eyes. God sees the heart that He created from the start. I’m not there yet, but I’m close.
So, I may still have close friends like how I considered Michael and I. They might be a king of hearts, a queen of spades, or a jack of all trades (Not an actual card, but sometimes, I can’t even.), but they are a human being created in the image of God. That’s why I love my friends and all people.
The Nerd of May