Thursday, December 12, 2013

Militant, belligerent, guerilla stimming!

First published elsewhere a few days ago:

I stim in public. 

I have taken it on myself to stim, in public. 

I grew up with my father holding my hands in a deathgrip at my sides, and I cannot now tell it it was to stop my stimming, or his own. I listened to my father repeat words and phrases and become more and more frustrated with himself as he did so, and listened to him scream at me when I slipped into echolalia myself. I watched others around him become impatient, and watched him hide his struggles. 

So now, at twenty-five, when I am in a restaurant and hear an older man at the pool tables five feet away performing some elaborate echolalia, clearly designed over years to sound like social interaction to an allistic person, I lean out into the table to duck my head and flutter my hands at the edges of my vision along with my laughter the next time someone at my table says something funny. 

When I hear in the comic shop, looking for stories, a mother berate her son for “being so hyper” and look up to see a child turning in circles with a book clutched to his chest, tell him to “knock it off!” I wait until the mother’s back has turned and her son has trotted away from her to pull a book off the shelf, wave my hands excitedly and spin in a circle with the book clutched to my chest. 

I see their faces change with my small acts of rebellion. I feel myself change. Small lights spark within my own mind at the sights and sounds of my brothers and sisters: You are here, and so am I. I will not hide that I am here, so that you can see me. I am a rocker, a flapper, a spinner. I walk down the sidewalk like I’m walking down a corkscrew some days. I watch people drive past me, gawking, and could care less, because I am lost in the joy of spinning, of locomotion and seeing everything. 

And I have seen faces change even in the act of driving past me. I watch them stare, recklessly, at the young man spinning down the sidewalk with a serene smile, and by the time they have passed on, a scowl has turned to a puzzled frown, a frown to a neutral wondering, and if they were simply having an alright day, the sight of someone spinning along is apparently enough to elicit a smile of their own. 
Sometimes I walk down the street as though my hands held a jumprope, windmilling my arms from the elbows at my sides with every step. Sometimes when I do this, I break into a run, and it feels like flying.

If you see me, walking down the street, one of two things: I will either be stumping along with a strange gate and a blank frown, or I will be flailing, spinning, skipping, jogging, running, twirling, or bouncing along, possibly walking on the curb or the wall that runs alongside the sidewalk, grinning or smiling or even laughing our loud.

I laugh. I laugh in public. Loudly.

I tell myself stories. I am a writer, and I write first within my own mind: I will speak my stories to myself as I walk, the words and thoughts bursting from my throat unbidden and unguided, until I see another person on the path. Then the throat-grate closes again, and the words that wish to spill forth are caged once again just below my jaw.  

But I have yet to be called names for displaying this strangeness. 

I am a creature of habit. Only now am I coming to realize that there is not only nothing wrong with being a creature of habit, it is not an uncommon trait among Auties. As a creature of habit, I am allowed certain freedoms that I do not think I could otherwise manage: It might be a bad day, but if I walk into my coffee shop and attempt to make mouth words and nothing comes out, the barista simply starts clicking buttons, and based on the time of year knows what I’m most likely to order. If my bad day continues, and all I want is something nutritious that I don’t have to cook myself, I know that I can walk up to my favourite food truck and simply by walking up to the window, the cook knows me and knows what I want. Most of the people I interact with on a semi-regular basis know that ducking my head and fluttering my hands means “Yes please thank you…” Even if I am having a bad day, I can usually croak out “Hotsauce?” 

So I take no shame in my habitual nature, and I let myself follow the behavioral impulses that come up. I let myself spin, and flail, and walk on walls and skip and hop and popopop. I purr, and meow, and hiss, in public, and it is taken as an adorable personality trait by those who love me, and the rest of the world can go suck a bag of eggs. 

Because those who take the time to get to know the flailing, spinning, purring, popping mad trans*kid find that they love me, partially because of my strangeness. 

And those who don’t? Are missing out. 



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