John the Lionhearted
It was my son’s 29th birthday yesterday. This deep freeze and homebound nature of our lives led to his sleep getting out of whack, since he ended up having marathon reading or video game-playing sessions and stayed up all night, going to bed on his birthday morning around 6am. He woke up about 1:30pm, groggy and not sure how he felt about the whole thing. Birthdays tend to depress him, because he knows his life is different. His 20s have been spent catching up, essentially going through his teen years in terms of socialization and maturity (something we’ve been aware of for a long time; just think of him as 10 years younger and it’s easier to understand).
So he gets depressed about having not accomplished more, being smart and aware. I recognize this feeling, although my issues have nothing to do with autism. Unless we eventually figure out that it actually did, but probably not.
Side note for those of you not living in this (or a similar) state—I get updates from the neighborhood businesses on my phone sometimes. Just got a text message from the pot store (the recreational cannabis store, sorry, my bad) on the corner, letting us all know they weren’t snowed in and having a big sale. I won’t be heading over there, no matter how bored I get. I just thought it was funny.
I’m not opposed to this, personally, and actually the idea of walking up and buying a bag of edibles might be a fun way to spend another day inside, but I won’t. I’m not worried at all about becoming dependent on weed, even given my issues with chemicals. It just sounds like more fun than I think it would be.
Anyway, back to John. This was a crazy week for a birthday to show up, because nothing is moving. His birthday present, ordered online, will show up next week, maybe. All he wanted to do was go to Olive Garden for dinner.
Another side note: I spent a lot of years, decades, working from home, so I missed restaurant chains suddenly springing to life. Just don’t go out to lunch with coworkers, that sort of thing. Missed Applebee’s. Missed Chilis. I was aware of Olive Garden from way back, but back then it seemed more of a classier, if franchised, Italian restaurant.
I know better now, and I get that Olive Garden is shorthand for something, some mass-produced culinary experience. My son just loves their food, as he’s a big pasta eater, and the one or two times I’ve gone with him it’s been fine.
I just think about one day, wandering through North Boston at dusk on a Friday night, watching these tiny Italian restaurants start to open for business, all of them with maybe four or five tables, and I dreamed about taking my son in one of these for some real food. Hard to tell if he’d appreciate it; people on the spectrum tend to have restricted food tastes, although John has expanded his palate. Olive Garden works for him, and it was his birthday, and against my better judgment and many, many snarky comments about trying to get out on the roads, we decided to attempt the 2 miles to Olive Garden.
I thought about drawing a diagram of my house but I’d screw that up. So let’s just say there’s a hill heading up from the road, which I refer to as a driveway since that’s all it does, goes up to the townhouses at the top, my house in the middle, and the house at the front of the street. It’s not a road, even though it looks like one.
So I head uphill about 100 feet, then a sharp turn to the right into my actual driveway, which tilts down at a steep angle (and then flattens out in the garage, which we’re not parking in currently because it’s filled with stuff from my tenant and just junk we need to haul away. Also need a new garage door and opener and we need so many things, it’s not gonna happen anytime soon. So we park angled down on the driveway, and so backing up to the main driveway (covered with snow too), then turn and head down toward the actual street.
Once we hit the street we were good. Checking DOT cameras around the area, it was doable and not dangerous. We just spun out wheels for a good five minutes with some digging before giving up. Some traction, a piece of plywood or cardboard, a little sand, we could have done it. We all laughed and knew it wasn’t worth it. We’ve got 30 pounds of Costo frozen chicken in the freezer, along with frozen pizza and chicken tenders that can be microwaved or baked quickly. Ice cream. I made cookies and donuts.
And on my last trek to the store before the storm, I found a perfect piece of pork shoulder, about 5-1/2 pounds, perfect for a slow, long cook (I love this tough pork, because it becomes fork tender in the slow cooker and I use all sorts of spices and sugars to give it a nice rub). It’s a backup of meat/protein for me, and I heat it up in bowls or make burritos out of it. We’re set for food. And stores are open.
So it worked out fine, although he crashed around 7pm, stirring to grab a couple of fresh donuts before sawing logs again, and that was his birthday. Today’s he’s up, bright and early, and while we might try Olive Garden again, the temps dropped into the teens and ice is everywhere. Really, not worth it.
But was complicated as John’s life has been, and as complicated as it has been for us, particularly financially, we’re a couple in our 60s who have an adult child living with us, taking care of us, loving us and enjoying our company. This is a blessing it’s so hard to express. He doesn’t currently have a job, is so stressed out by noise and bright lights he can barely function in most places, but he’s trying and frankly I’m hoping he learns to be a plumber or electrician, or at least an IT guy. These jobs aren’t going anywhere, and they might suit him.
Anyway. Happy birthday to my son. He is a joy to me, a huge annoyance, a huge joy, life is so complicated and wonderful, and today so white and sparkling.