All in an April Week
'Stay Here'

Fable of the Still Broken Washing Machine

Just to prove they do ride on country roads.

In the great scheme of things, us being in a state of washing-machine-less-ness for something over a month (the repairman came a week and a half ago only to discover that the most important part had not been sent though plenty of other big boxes with other parts had, leading me to make, a few days later, what was the probably the first-ever attempt to explain the Emperor Augustus' struggle, or failure, to find an heir he truly wanted via a comparison to one New Jersey classicist mother's attempts to get a major household appliance fixed) -- this is not a big deal. 

Though of course the county government would choose the upcoming week to close the street the laundromat and my favored local supermarket (where some of the clerks remember when I used to bring Charlie to shop, before the incident of the red brownie box, and still ask how's he doing) are on for major repairs.

Still recovering from last week's emotions and storms worrying and enduring Dadless Wednesdays and from staying up all night from Friday till Saturday morning, Charlie slept till nearly noon on Sunday. He called for a long local bike ride and Jim readily acceded. Usually I've been waiting till Charlie's back at school on Monday to head to the laundromat but I thought I'd venture over. While the mega-sized machine was starting rinse no. 2, Jim texted me that they had cut the ride short and were home and where was I?.

I was just leaving the bagel store. I'd found a certain worker -- who once held onto Charlie when he had a severe neurological storm as he and I were waiting in line; it was a tight space, redolent with smells and people and the worker jumped to help us as if on instinct -- wearily cleaning out the plastic display case that usuallly contains the crumb cakes and muffins. I paused as he seemed very busy then realized he was waiting for me to give him my bagel order. As he filled a bag with everythings and whole wheat everythings, I said thank you and then (I felt I had to say something), "you're closing soon?"

"In an hour. But the last hour is the longest."

"Yes," I said.

Another man who was chopping celery behind him laughed. The worker rang up my bagels and said over his shoulder, "If you were doing what I was doing [gesturing to the crumby plastic display case], you'd say so."

I thanked him again, he nodded, I hurried home, left Jim and Charlie delving into the bagels, and went back for the laundry. 

Afterwards Charlie and I did our five-plus mile walk under a bright blue sky and it was with the same that he and Jim rode off a bit later from the park in Bayonne by the bay and just beyond the Turnpike bridge. Charlie was smiling broadly, not only at the prospect of the ride and the sunshine and the Vietnamese food we always get him afterwards. On the ride in, he'd been in the grip of his anxieties: We pass the airport on the way and he couldn't stop insisting we go there and get my mom and dad. They're due to come in a month and, it seems, Charlie has started with his usual pre-Gong Gong Po Po visit anxiety.

Leaving me thinking, maybe it'd be best not to drive with him by the airport more than necessary, for the nonce. And that, while's it's often noted that those on the spectrum struggle with executive functioning, Charlie has a very well-developed capacity in this area: He's already planning both driving routes and his anticipated emotions quite a bit of time ahead of my parents' visit.

Working his way successfully through so many feelings gave Charlie a boost, I sould say. It was a great ride in Bayonne and Jersey City, even with a surprise ending.

Jim and Charlie like to meet me in Liberty State Park, against the backdrop of lower Manhattan and the rising Freedom Tower. I was waiting there but a police loudspeaker blared out that The Park Was Closed As In Right Now. A nearby parking lot for the light rail station was blocked off (by police cars with flashing lights) so I waited for Jim and Charlie on a side street. Charlie grinned as he rode up behind Jim.

Sometimes the unexpected can be a bit easier for Charlie to navigate through. Perhaps because, he doesn't have to worry about pacing himself through that last longest hour, waiting for things to be fixed and set right and orderly again.


With his Faithful steed I meant bike.


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