"Breathe deep, don't push it, you know you can't"""." I slow my pace to a more controlled jog instead of the sprint I would like it to be.
I sat today and while I tried to snatch sentences and paragraphs from my book I also carried on a conversation with the boy sitting next to me.
"I'm an animal expert. Have been all my life."
One of my eyebrows arched upward and a corner of my mouth lifted in quiet amusement.
"what a funny sounding voice"
"Oh really? What's your favorite animal?" I questioned, willing to satisfy his need for a conversation.
"Where are you from?" He asked without skipping a beat.
"Western Kentucky, and you?" I knew full well where he was from even as I asked and wasn't surprised when I got his answer.
"Western Kentucky? That country must be far away from the united states, I've never heard of it before!" His enthusiasm was contagious.
I smiled and gently corrected. "Kentucky is one of the states in america, it's only about 4 and 1/2 hours away from here." My voice was soft and warm as I quietly closed my book, realizing this conversation wasn't ending anytime soon.
"I'm goingtogotoAfrica." He was so excited his words ran together.
"Oh really? when?" I leaned comfortably on the arm rest and listened eagerly.
"But first I'm going to get married! Don't tell my parents, but I've already found the girl I'm going to get married to." His voice got quieter and quieter as he spoke and he leaned in close to me.
"Oh dear Lord, please don't let it be me. " I could handle a conversation with this boy and it's fast changing pace easily but I paled when I wasn't sure what I would say if he told me it was me.
"Her name is ----, she's down in the vendor hall, I just met her this morning." His eyes were bright and his smile wide as he proudly told me of his future bride who I'm sure had absolutely no clue there was already a man who had his heart set on her (and probably a ring in mind too).
A soft chuckle escaped from my throat and I smiled widely, "sounds like a plan!"
This young man is full of dreams, eager and desires great things. He's 15. And he is Autistic.
Later I again was working my way through my assigned reading for next fall (my last) semester when he butted into my world uninvited and not entirely unexpected.
"So, do you like to read?" He asked and actually paused to let me answer.
"Oh yes, I do, very much. Do you?" I decided to close the book early in the conversation this time.
"Yes I do..." He left the conversation open. I found this interesting and pursued it with earnestness.
"I am reading for school..." I met his eyes and held them, silently prompting him.
"I am going to school to be a Physical Therapist Assistant."
"Wwwwwooooooooowwwwwwwww....Are you married?"
Back to marriage, I wonder if he's proposed.
I sighed and shook my head. "Nope, not yet-"
He cut me off. "Being married is a good thing. And I think that if God can help me get married, then he can help you too."
His simple faith gave me pause. "You know, I think you're right." I smiled in agreement and he grinned.
"I watch PBS!!!" He smiled triumphantly with this announcement.
"Do you? I watched PBS." Moron! don't conjugate to past tense!!!! I cringed inwardly knowing exactly where this was going to go.
"What do you watch?!?!?!?!" His excitement actually lifted him from his chair about an inch. Before I could come close to opening my mouth to answer he was already listing a couple shows he watches and unfortunately was so excited his words ran so close together I was hardly able to distinguish them.
"-Martha speaks. She's a vocabularist-Yes, "vocabularist,""' use your imagination-. A VOCABULARIST!!!"
"Yes she is!" I affirmed him.
"Her vocabulary is, yea!"
He paused and I knew it must be my turn to answer.
"I watched-" DANG IT!!!! "Mr. Roger's Neighborhood and Sesame Street."
"Sesame Street?!?! What does that have in it?"
"Oh you know, puppets."
"Oh puppets. Like Big Bird, and Elmo, Oscar the Grouch, Baby Bear, Betty Lou, Cookie Monster, The Count, Curly Bear, Bert and Ernie, Frazzle, Grover, Honkers, Kermit-" He named every single character. Every one. I know this because I zoned out and came back in a couple minutes later and he was still naming them.
"Yep! That's the show alright!!" I said when he finished and sat with a beaming smile.
"Have you seen the show Sid the Science Kid?" He asked, as eager as ever.
"Why yes I have, I think my niece watches it too."
"Really?!?!" He sounded horrified and for a moment I thought I had devastated him.
"Yes, I think so." I wasn't going to lie to him....
"My parents don't let me watch Sid the Science Kid." He scrutinized me, obviously trying to read my mind and see what I thought of his parents choice.
"You know, I don't really care for Sid the Science Kid, I don't think he teaches you very much." I was vaguely aware that his dad came out of the room he and his wife were just lecturing in and was standing by watching, waiting to get a word in edgewise.
"Really?!" He was shocked by my outright opposition to the show, I could tell by the way his voice got so high it cracked on the "Y".
"My niece also watches Word World, do you watch that?" I rose as I spoke, needing to break away.
"Word World? Never head of it." He watched me go, silently pleading for me to sit back down. It was nearly enough to have me running back into that chair beside him to share my life dreams with him. His father interjected here to tell his son he was going downstairs to the vendor hall.
"Well Joe, it's been an absolute pleasure talking with you." I stuck out my hand and he took it, shaking it as firmly as his small, weak, grasp could manage.
"It's been a pleeeaaazzzzuuuurrr too!" He struggled with the word and I was silently surprised but covered it with a smile and said good bye.
Life is full of big things and little things. Details and massive explosions. Often we are focused on either the big things (no matter how beautiful or horrible) or the details (no matter how beautiful or horrible).
Breathe deep and savor every bit of the breath that fills your lungs.