The year was 1985, the same year the movie ‘The Breakfast Club’ released. Five students of various stereotypes commune in the school library for a Saturday morning detention… the princess, the jock, the criminal, the nerd and the freak. Recalling back to my 11th grade English class, one could certainly conclude that art often imitates life. In the back corner, the criminal carved graffiti into a desk. Next to him, the freak studied his flock of seagulls quaff in the reflection of a nearby window. Of course, the princess and the jock sat together, talking only to each other. Finally, there was the nerd, and with my stick figure frame, baggy clothes and an instrument case resting next to my desk, it was hardly difficult to guess who that was.
Then there was Jim, who sat in the aisle across from me.
Jim was sort of a walking contradiction. He kept mostly to himself, politely nodding his head as others spoke to him, yet throwing out enough attitude for appearances sake. Built like a jock, yet not a jock at all, and judging by his good looks, as well as the lack of an instrument case, he was hardly a nerd, yet a little nerdy in his demeanor. Indeed, Jim’s personality fell into a category all its own.
As the teacher droned on about ‘The Scarlett Pimpernel’, we watched the minute hand on the clock above her head. Finally, relief sang in the note of a dismissal bell, and with the jubilance of escaping elk, we stood and gathered our books. That’s the moment when Jim turned to me and asked the most unexpected question.
“Why are we learning this?”
I have to admit, I was a little taken aback by, what I thought, was a question with an obvious answer. “Because you’ll flunk if you don’t,” I replied. “Maybe get in trouble with your parents.”
“So?” he shrugged. “It’s so boring!”
Through our remaining time in high school, Jim and I carried on a friendship as we passed each other in the hallways. Mostly, our exchanges consisted of his relentless teasing and my staring back at him as if he was half-crazy. ‘You are the last person I thought would ever join the military!’ I later penned in his senior yearbook.
Twenty-five years later, fate brought us back together. At the time, Jim was just finishing a tour of duty in Iraq. I was a single mother to two children on the Autism Spectrum. Without a doubt, we have had our respective share of life experiences, but when Jim looks at me today, he can still see the same girl he knew back in high school. He looks at my children and sees them as his children. I look at him and see the love of my life.
Of course, some things never change. Jim still teases me relentlessly… still asks a lot of ‘why’ questions, and in turn, I still look at him as if he’s half-crazy. Perhaps I’m the half-crazy one for agreeing to marry this joker this week, but hey… who am I to question fate? ♥
** Today is April 2, 2012 -- World Autism Day! Celebrate by purchasing blue light bulbs and lighting up your front porches this evening! Light It Up Blue for Autism Awareness! **