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Neurodiversity Awareness/Appreciation

Neurodiversity Awareness/Appreciation

Monday, October 6, 2014

Greetings From Sunny Portland!

My uncle and Roo and I on one of our hikes!
Hi everyone! I can't remember if I even mentioned that I was going to Oregon to visit my Auntie Em and Uncle J! I may have mentioned that I was thinking of it. Well, now I am here. I got here on Saturday at noon, so this is pretty much my second-and-a-half day here. 

Part of the objective of this visit is to help me work towards the hopefully eventual transition to living out here. It has been going pretty good so far. It was a little hard saying goodbye to my parents even temporarily, and especially to my dogs... but my aunt and uncle have a dog (Roo) and a cat (Romp) that I love, so they have helped me keep my mind off of missing Trixie and Lily. Roo loves me especially much. If I go into the bathroom, and then come out, she runs up to me with a smile on her face and greets me like we've been separated for months again! Romp spends most of his time outside, romping. But when he does come inside, he sometimes comes up to me and rubs against me, lets me pet him, and even sits on my lap. From a cat, that is a real compliment. He is like, "You may now have exactly three minutes of interaction with the royal kitty."

My uncle usually takes Roo for a walk in the woods once a day, so I've gotten to go on two good hikes already. The exercise and fresh air is good for me because it stretches out all of my muscles and really seems to ease my anxiety issues. I don't particularly like to exercise at home because, well, it is boring. Hiking is fun and interesting and purposeful. Walking around the block or working out on an elliptical is fun when it is novel, but gets old if you try to do it every day. At least, for me. And there aren't many places to hike around where I live, at least not that I feel comfortable going to by myself. Its like, trees trees trees nature nature nature PEOPLE SMOKING CRACK trees trees trees cute fuzzy squirrel nature nature nature MUGGER trees trees trees creek birds trees nature DEAD BODY trees trees trees. 

When I haven't been hiking, I've mostly been relaxing, or helping my aunt (she is recovering from surgeries related to breast cancer) or playing with Roo. 

My aunt let me read a bunch of old letters from my Grandpa, who died when I was 10. He used to write to each of his kids once a week, and Auntie Em saved all of her letters from him. It was awesome to read all the letters. It was a little like reading someone's diary, where they talk about certain things and you are missing most of the background information so you have to keep trying to put it together like a mental puzzle. The letters started the year before I was born, and kept on going until about a week before his untimely death. (He was 78 when he died, but could have lived a lot longer. He somehow tripped and fell one day while carrying a bucket or something, hitting his head on a fence, and it caused a blood clot in his head.) I got to read all of his thoughts on things going on in our family, the advice and words of wisdom he gave to my aunt, and even the things he mentioned about me on occasion! 

The sad part was that he was always mentioning trying to get my whole family together. See, my Grandpa was from southern Illinois originally but grew up in Chicago and raised his family in Chicago. But as soon as my aunt grew up she moved out here, and shortly thereafter my grandparents divorced and my Grandpa moved to Florida and got remarried. So a lot of the letters were about him trying to keep tabs on all of his family members who were divided up into two different states, and trying to figure out ways to see all of them once in a while, trying to help them out while he could, while also having a second wife who discouraged him from being as involved as he would have liked to be. Everyone seemed to be going through all sorts of hard times and even crises, with my dad and his brother and sister all being unemployed at different times, my aunt going through divorce, my brother having cancer, etc, and all he could really do was write letters and occasionally call. He wanted to move back closer to Chicago, he wanted to be able to travel to see everyone more. He had a lot of sadness about not getting to be a regular grandpa and spend time with his grandchildren. (Of course, if this had been happening now, he would have been able to friend us on Facebook, text us, Instagram us, follow our Twitter feeds, and Skype with us! And maybe I would have even let him read this blog.) 

That is part of the reason why I've had so much anxiety about moving to Oregon even though I want to. I grew up not really getting to have relationships with my dad's family members. There was more emphasis on our being a part of my mom's family, and those were the grandparents, aunts and uncles that we saw regularly. And that was cool, but if I had gotten to learn more about my dad's side of the family and to have a relationship with them, I probably wouldn't have grown up feeling so alienated. 

Get it? ALIENated? See what I did there?

So what I'm saying is, I don't want to spend the rest of my life only seeing my parents and my other Chicago family members only once a year or less. This is already what my brother does. I feel so sad for my parents because, like my Grandpa, they only get to see Squeak once or twice a year. They have to miss out on a lot of his childhood. When Bro and Sunny and Squeak came for Christmas last year, and my mom borrowed a car seat for him, she said, "Oh, I really wanted to be the kind of Grandma who has to own a car seat because her grandchild is with her so much." And she won't ever have that. And sometimes I hate my brother for taking that away from her. 

If I have kids (which I hope I will) I want them to be able to see my parents and other family members all the time. But I also would love to raise them knowing Auntie Em and Uncle J and my cousin BT and Bro and Sunny and Squeak. I feel like I just want to be close to everyone I love, but I'm always having to choose. 

On a side note, I've been doing a lot of genealogy research on my dad's side of the family, I found this site where you can start your family tree, and eventually you can connect it to other people who have made their own family trees, and when you connect to a few people you start to see that everyone in the USA is pretty much related to each other one way or another. This is a fun thing to do. But it has also been cool to trace some of my ancestors all the way back to the Mayflower and beyond. 

I would like to figure out a way to do some kind of project where I could trace my family forward... to the most recent two or three generations... and see how many of them have autism or ADHD. Wouldn't that be interesting to know? And to find out which branches of the family have the highest tendencies for ADHD and autism? You could even add in depression, anxiety, and what not. For instance, I know for a fact that one of my grandmother's brothers had special needs, which may or may not have been autism-related. 

My mom's side of the family has been harder to research. It seems that they just appeared here from Italy one day, leaving little or no evidence of having ever existed before.

So anyways... yeah. That's what's been up as of late!
And now I am going to end this blog entry. My eyes are starting to cross. 

4 comments :

  1. I like your style. Welcome to Oregon. Keep on writing, it's cathartic.

    Peace,
    DiB

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  2. I've just returned from a long cross country trip myself! It's so much easier to keep in touch with family members these days, but it's still not the same as having them right there with you. I'm close to the sister I visited, but miss the days when we grew up together in the same house.

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  3. Yay! I love that you got there! Good for you! Looking forward to more. :)

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  4. I'm married, and have lived in a different state from my parents for three years, and saying goodbye is still hard! In the military, however, we don't call it "goodbye." We say, "See you later." :-) Good job on breaking new ground in Oregon! And how special to read your grandpa's letters!

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