Monday, November 21, 2011

It's never over, even when it's over...

It's our last night on the Great Family Adventure, and I'm in utter denial.

It has been so magical, I don't want it to end. We have travelled around for three weeks, covered over 3000 kilometres and heard Moves Like Jagger at least 1500 times.

OK, I'm over restaurant eating and room service (even though we have all discovered some wonderful food while we've been here). I'm looking forward to my own bed (though the cleaning pixies who tidy up the room and do funny things with Billy's toys will be sorely missed). I'm very, very keen to see Scruffy again (as I hope he is to see us).

I'm kidding myself though. We have seen the most amazing things, we have met the most amazing people, and we have proven to ourselves that we can achieve things we thought were impossible. The USA has been very kind to us, and we were pushing the friendship. We asked a lot, and America, being America said, 'Sure.'

Can we have a side of bacon? (asked in every restaurant). Sure.
Can you put each food on a separate plate? (also in every restaurant, as a precautionary tactic). Sure.
Can we leave here and come back later? (every zoo/theme park). Sure.
Can you seat us away from the babies? (every where we go). Sure.


We just had to mention the word autism, and people said, 'Sure'.

It's hard to pick a highlight. San Diego Zoo is the pinnacle of all the city zoos we have ever seen (and we have seen quite a few). The haboob that accompanied us on the road to Phoenix was the scariest, most beautiful thing I've ever seen. Disneyland was pure magic, everything it promises and so very much more. They deserve special mention for their autism respect alone, but over and above autism, it was just plain good to us. Yosemite was majestic, calm, stunning, awesomeness. Half Moon Bay was life-changingly gorgeous. San Francisco was achingly cool and welcoming. Los Angeles is so much more excellent and so much less scary than I ever thought it could be.

After so many years of acclimatising to autism, it has been a joy to experience things with Billy - his way. It's been new to all of us, and so we have let him lead. In many ways, we have seen this whole adventure through his wonderful eyes, and it has been wonderful. We have weathered new noise together, we have taken new steps together, we have planned through totally new experiences together... it has truly been a lesson in life.

We are all tired. We are all hoping for a calm trip home. We are all changed.

I can't believe I have met some of the women who have held my virtual hand (hell, they have held my hair back while I have virtually hurled. Repeatedly) through this autism adventure. I can't believe the ease of those meetings, the depth of the connections and the aching sadness I feel returning home knowing I am putting physical distance between us again.

I can't believe we didn't argue/fall apart as a family/go crazy/break down in the desert or a gang neighbourhood/get caught in crossfire/witness a major crime/gain 10 kilograms/see a Kardashian... OK, I am genuinely a little disappointed about the last one. But a minor Real Housewife is a fair substitute, right?

I can't believe we have taken an autistic child on a huge adventure, and apart from a tired attempt at a meltdown at Los Angeles Zoo this morning when the Bat Eared Fox and Echidna refused to make an appearance, he has been astonishingly balanced.

I can't believe I am saying all of this when we still have a 14 hour flight to go.

For now, I will sleep and dream, and taking the advice of Crowded House, I will not dream it's over. I will dream of a second flight with no babies and a slew of new movies.

Thank you, America. For being amenable and positive and accommodating. For pulling out a bunch of smiles when your economy smells like a swamp and you are still leading a massive international conflict. For still having low prices despite my last statement.

I was genuinely scared before we came. Those of you who know me well will know it is not hard to scare me. I can see disaster in a cupcake.

My fears about this country, and Billy and us were unfounded. I will remember this forever and live my life accordingly.

At least I would, if it was over... but too much has happened for this to be an experience that ends. I've still got my virtual hair holders (thank heavens I didn't turn out to be a complete looney tune), I've got around a bazillion photographs and as long as Customs don't raise any eyebrows... I have a secret stash of snack food to smooth the transition to home.

Life is sweet.


Kathy said...

Ha I laughed out loud to your comment about seeing disaster in a cupcake! thrilled that your time *here* was magical!! :)

Dana Meijler said...

So glad to hear that you have had a wonderful vacation. Can't wait to see some of those bazillion photos and hear more stories!

Ana Nguyen said...

at least that it's better than here, it's trash

Miz Kizzle said...

I'm glad America got a thumbs up. It's a good place full of (mostly) good people and despite some of our idiot politicians I have high hopes for a better future.
My dog groomer is from Australia and she, too, can see disaster in a cupcake. Every other Australian I've met has been outstandingly cheerful and optimistic. It seems to be a national attribute.