Tuesday, April 10, 2012


Photo by Maribel Lopez-Gabiger
The older we become, the more we are forced to let go of and it never stops. In fact, it is absolutely relentless. For me, it was devoting two weeks for writing Holiday Cards. This used to be one of the most profound joys of returning from a semester at college that always came with social and academic challenges. I would become immersed in nostalgia and the joy of all things related to the post office. But the mounting responsibilities of the adult world took that away, too. Little by little, I also had to watch my old friendships and acquaintanceships completely disintegrate. The older you become…the less people want to stay in touch unless you serve a direct purpose in their life. And as I continue to become more busy as a professional writer, I am finally crossing over to the dark side. There are fewer people I want to remain in touch with because there is just never enough time in the day and it is nothing personal. But we cannot let go of everything regardless of how age inappropriate it may seem. When we lose everything…we are left with emptiness! I’m still holding onto Halloween for dear life and the joys of celebrating my birthday every year.

Technically speaking, my technical birthday was stolen by the adult world. On April 2nd, I was forced to wake up by six a.m. to begin a day of radio and magazine interviews related to Autism Awareness Day, which also fell on April 2nd. The sacrifice was justified by the realization that I was using MY day to promote the gifts of Autism. But it was not enough. There is an ancient Chinese proverb that I just made up two seconds ago: “The celebration of one’s birthday is a prism of one’s soul.” Now…what do you think about THAT?!

Two days earlier, I ended up having my 30th Birthday Celebration at a children’s roller skating complex called, Hyde Park Roller Magic. I am the second oldest person to have their birthday celebration at this childlike utopia. But birthdays are celebrated on my terms. My original plan was to celebrate turning thirty at Atlantic City, Las Vegas, or some other gambling mecca. Such plans are almost always unrealistic unless they are planned in advance and the host pays for everything. Most people have families, lives, and/or prior plans. Roller Magic was the next best alternative to this solution. It turned out to be an amazing fit for everyone.

In a typical Aspergers-ish fashion, I ended up opening my birthday to the entire community and sent the invitation to almost all of my 3,000-plus Facebook friends. It would have been great if total strangers showed up or friends of friends. “Any friend of your is a friend of mine.” At least thirty souls showed up at the complex and they were all cherished friends from the community. Even the Dutchess County Commissioner of Health came to celebrate with his family. There were no questions or snide remarks about the “inappropriate setting” for a thirty year old man. I had full-blown acceptance, which has been my lifelong goal all along.

The climax of my birthday came when the staff allowed me to dress up as the Roller Magic Mascot, which is a composite of a giraffe and one of those fantastical creatures from the 1990s Disney animated cartoon, “The Wuzzles.” I foolishly did not warn my friends that it was me inside and tried to send a flamboyant hint by grabbing the incomparable, Shannon Lashlee who was my old supervisor at the funeral home. She was pulled in the middle of the “Hokey Pokey” mayhem and spun around. (It was extremely hot and uncomfortable inside that suit. I have profound sympathy for those poor souls entombed inside the suits at Disney World!)

A few hours before my big day…I even found time to attend the Dutchess County Anti-Bullying Walk on the Hudson River Walkway. Brendan Caldwell and his amazing sister, Julia were two of my guests at Roller Magic and here is a photograph of us posing on the Walkway!

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