This fucking year

…the song is romantic with a desperate, pleading quality that makes you feel both leery of, and sorry for, the speaker. It starts off accusatory, leading you to believe that the speaker has been stood up: “When I was waiting in a bar, where were you? / When I was buying you a drink, where were you? / When I was crying at home in bed, where were you?” This introduction draws some immediate sympathy for the speaker. He went so far as to buy her a drink, even though she wasn’t there, and when he eventually comes to realize he’s been stood up he goes home to cry, a sad picture by most standards. When the third verse hits, we’re taken to new levels of delusion, neediness and dejection. (Pop Matters: Remembering the Early Mekons)

No one gets out of 2020 without loss. We are collectively grieving in this horrible, wonderful togetherness. They say everyone grieves differently, and that means everyone. For those who are partnered with Aspies, different includes imperceptibly. This too is sacred grief, and between him and the gods of his choosing.

My process is to light a candle, play the departed’s favorite music, and immerse myself in their spiritual practice for the day. My good friend, my sister, Rachel, was a fan of the Dalai Lama. Light the candle, ring the bells, and let our loved ones continue to live through us. She would not be down with extended mourning, she was a life-lover. Her body gave out and she was ready to die.

She had been dying for over a year. She chronicled her passing on facebook, but you’re never prepared for it. She was a professor of philosophy, a research psychologist, and mother of two who understood me. Understanding people was her job, and I saw her do it with incorrigible headcases in the online mental health forums we launched on EZBOARDS when this was a thing decades ago. She was a truth-teller who handled people with respect and even delicacy. Of course, no one trusted her. At first.

The keen insight, offbeat humor and non-judgmental but strong moral compass turned awful trolls into supplicants who’d hang around just to interact with her. Great references didn’t hurt. Emerson hooked me. That was my first phone call. We talked all night about Self-Reliance, chapter and verse. She could be challenging, tough, but always made people feel safe with her. This was her code.

A true scholar, there was no subject Rachel could not broach, and she was generous with her knowledge. We two plunged into wildly discursive facebook threads that lasted hours into the morning that I will cherish forever. She found me brilliant, said she’d learned more from me than she had from anyone who had come before. In our last conversation we vowed to revisit each other post-covid-19 with a goal to collaborate on a research paper about gender relations because, she said, I have that stuff down and am not afraid of the hard questions.

Strange, how the death of one person can make another all but invisible.

Michael and I had a catastrophic Christmas. I ended up lurking at the Dark Web of Autistic Spouses Heave-ho Club and we’re talking about a conscious uncoupling. Hopeless, spent, irreconcilable. But looking over the steps, my god. You have to put in as much work during a conscious uncoupling as you do to maintain a healthy relationship, so “we might as well stay together”, says the big furry oracle. Chalk one up to autistic inertia.

I have a song for that. A two-chord epic love song from my generation, which is also what this blog is about, if you want it to be. Before we get to that, let me thank you for reading, whatever brings you here. By now you should know not to come here for answers. I just try things on, and not much fits. Don’t believe the hype, that’s the strategy. Couples counselors that specialize in neurodiverse relationships who have never heard of the Cassandra Syndrome? That’s a tight fit.

Mike and me, we know what to do. It starts with unearthing all the unmentioned (unmentionable?) expectations that have been driving these resentments. A negotiation of terms. The airing and holding of differences. We’re going to put our heads together and do all the blah blah paperwork that keeps couples afloat. We’re going to have conversation at 8:30 on the dot, this day from now on. Relationshipping, it’s what for breakfast. You might say I am hungering for it. That would be a good fit.