After years of reading articles on the traits of women with Asperger’s, I’ve come to understand one specific thing. We like to use our imagination. How often, as a child, I would play on my own, shunning the invitations of classmates so I could continue reveling in my make-believe world, until they no longer came around to ask me to join in their fun.
I remember clearly third-grade recess. My school had an inviting creek that ran along the back of the playground, filled with crayfish and other fun little creatures that the boys enjoyed tossing up the slide as the girls would be coming down, and the boys would flush with the thrill of hearing our terrified shrieks. I loved wandering around the area beside the creek that swirled with assorted weeds that I pretended was my food, and no, I never really ate the weeds, and yet in my mind that place was my home and I was mistress of my domain, or at least until the bell rang to return to the classroom.
Over the years, I’d wander the playgrounds scrounging for colorful rocks, or I’d sit down on the concrete sidewalk and write poetry while my classmates chased each other around the asphalt playground, or jumping rope or the ever-popular for the seventies, four-square. Some would laugh at me because I wouldn’t join in. I didn’t enjoy being the odd-one out, but to me the ‘work’ I was doing was so much more important than bouncing a red, rubber ball around chalk-lined boxes.
Even in my own home, my imagination took hold as a child. I had a large stuffed lion that, okay don’t laugh, was my ‘Clyde’ to my ‘Bonnie’. Yes, I was enthralled with the movie, and the book which I read, Bonnie and Clyde. Oh my young heart thought Warren Beatty was it. So rugged and handsome! And Bonnie, gorgeous and oh so cool to a young me. Later I would learn that the real Bonnie and Clyde were nothing like the on-screen ones. Oh my precious childhood innocence shattered! Anyway, getting back to my giant stuffed lion, which was about three feet tall, and I would lay on the side of my bed away from my bedroom’s doorway and we’d lay there quietly(okay, I did, he was a stuffed animal) as I pretended the cops were closing in on us and we had to be as silent as possible. Yes, I was definitely a strange child.
As I grew older I would spend hours in my bedroom listening to music, mostly hard rock and heavy metal, rocking back and forth as I sat in front of my record player and speakers. I think I’ve gone a bit deaf from sitting in front of the speakers for so long. I’d have the music on so loud, I would have to close the door. My mother, God bless her, would have to throw a shoe against the door to get my attention! And let me tell you, my mother had quite an arm! The thunk against the wood made me jump, bringing me back to reality.
And still, even at this age, my imagination is one of my closest friends. Reading books would send me off on journeys to some interesting places. On cruise ships, to China, to America’s South and West. For most of my life I’ve enjoyed romances, but as I’ve gotten older, I’ve come to read a lot my nonfiction. I read books on religion, history, biographies, and health.
Music can draw me into another world as well. I love listening to songs and close my eyes. Some have brought me to tears while others can send me into a bit of a rage. I can get so lost into the music that my husband can come up to me and I don’t even notice. He worries about me when I do that. My mind gets so wrapped up into what I’m listening to or reading that I’m almost in another world, I guess.
Getting back to my original thought, though, about Asperger’s and women who are on the spectrum, we have vivid imaginations that we would rather walk around in for a while rather than go to a party. I am good staying at home with my imaginary friends in my books. They are normally great company. That’s why I love to write. Words on a page that I am creating, characters and scenes that I am in charge of bringing to life, gives me great satisfaction. Now it is my turn to give back. I want to share the wonder and awe of the written word. I want to lead others to places they may not normally venture to in real life, well, me either in some instances. But I love the freedom of writing. It brings me peace. It brings me to the brink of madness at times, with the stories I write. It brings tears to my eyes as I hope it brings to those who read my stories. Sometimes it’s hard to kill off a character you have come to love. So yes, writing can be hard at times when you need to do some revising, and knocking off a beloved character or two. But I wouldn’t change this mystery called the imagination. I love it. I live for the thrill of being able to use it. It helped me out during some of the lowest and loneliest times in my young life, and parts of my adult life as well.
So I hope you give writing a try, if you haven’t already done so. It is liberating. You have control, now go out and create!