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Posts Tagged ‘Nicole’

Several years ago, I was rather appalled to learn that my girlfriend, Nicole, hated to read. Granted, she’s a civil engineer by trade. A linear thinker. A planner. A fact-loving, solution-needing, draw-a-rectangle-around-the-answer, math-excelling kind of woman. She’s the girl who hated me in high school for interrupting Advanced Algebra class to ask, “When will we use this in real life?” I need to analyze. She needs to know.

So while she was nursing her second baby and spending those self-imposed long pauses in her day with nothing to occupy her mind (daytime tv does NOT count as mind-occupying), I handed her the Harry Potter series. After Harry Potter, she asked for more, so I sent her off to meet Mr. DaVinci and his special code. After that, it was the Twilight books, which she proudly admitted to being so enthralled with that she read paragraphs at stop lights on the way to her kids’ soccer practice, just waiting, waiting, waiting for those two fictional lovebirds to finally just do it already.

This year, it was the Hunger Games series, and most recently, I introduced her to my pal, Miss Sookie Stackhouse. Until we meet her in the first book of her as-yet-unfinished series (which HBO has turned into the equally delicious “True Blood” series), Sookie has lived a rather sheltered life. She lives, as Nicole often says of herself, “in the box.” She’s naïve and unworldly. But we like her, because unlike Bella Swan, the heroine of the Twilight novels, Sookie not only has a sex life but, if you ask me, she’s actually a bit of a slut. Which, come on, makes for better reading, let’s just say it. Sookie lives in the box, true, but she’s also kind of a badass. I like her. Come to think of it, that pretty much sums up how I feel about Nicole. Yeah, she likes living in the box, but she’s one ass-kicking chick when push comes to shove, and I dig that about her.

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I remember the first time I “came out” to a stranger. I was at Target (as usual), and a woman said “hello” to Will and waited for him to respond. I said “hello” back for him, smiling and telling her, “Will isn’t being rude to you, ma’am. He has autism, so he doesn’t speak.” That night, I told my husband Marty about the exchange. I was incredibly proud of having publicly stated, to someone who didn’t need to know, that Will had autism. Doing so was a big step for me.

See, the thing about autism is that Will looks like everyone else (although, and I could be a teensy bit biased here, I do think he’s maybe a little cuter than the average kid). He “passes” for “normal” the way some of my gay friends used to “pass” for straight before coming out. People cannot look at Will and tell that he’s any different. And so I think it comes as even more of a surprise to people when I tell them he has autism.

At first, I didn’t want to tell people Will had autism because it was too painful. I would cry just thinking about autism, so I tried not to talk about it in front of Will. And I knew I didn’t have to tell people, given how Will blended in. So, in those first few months A.D. (that’s “After Diagnosis” in our house), I stuck to telling family and close friends. I even asked them to keep the news to themselves, not out of shame, but out of fear. I was petrified that a girlfriend would mention Will’s autism to another mom, and that I’d then run into that mom, say, at the park. I knew if I had a random acquaintance come up and give me her condolences (because that’s how it felt in the beginning; no one knew what to say except how sorry they were), I would completely break down on the spot.

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