Sunday, July 10, 2011

Awkward Non-Aspies, Part II

In continuation with a recent post, Don't Forget, I've decided to revisit the theme of neurotypical people with awkward or strange tendencies.


Miranda is a girl I've known since we were toddlers. Our mothers are best friends, so it was expected that we would be, as well. Miranda is a few months older than me, and I remember her house was like a second home to me growing up. Miranda's mother is a wonderful person, very warm and welcoming- she would give up everything for the sake of your comfort. When we were moving they opened up their house to us for a good part of a summer. With such a nice family, I wonder where Miranda's bitter disposition came from.

I remember playing Power Rangers with her and her brother, and I was always shafted - though I wanted to be the Pink Ranger, Miranda always insisted on being the Pink Ranger, while I was the Yellow Ranger. Nothing against the Yellow Ranger (she was pretty awesome), but any diplomatic friend would have happily taken turns.

There's one perfect word to describe Miranda: she's cold. In all of the time I've spent with her, I could never read her emotions. Strikingly beautiful, everything about her was sharp, like ice. Her speech inflection could cut around jagged corners and poke someone's eye out. Though I was isolated in a mental bubble due to my Asperger's, my presence was very warm and soft. Even as a child I was told I had a meditative, zen-like presence.

So out of convenience, I spent a lot of time at Miranda's house growing up. She was never the type of person you could just "hang out" with - we'd always have the TV on, or we'd be playing video games. There would be some outside distraction to build a wall between us. That was fine with me. I always liked going over her house because her mom would give me all the junk food my parents wouldn't let me eat. I remember happily filling up on sugar over there - I think this is why I now have an insatiable sweet tooth.

Still, the TV couldn't create a wall between us forever. Little by little I became aware of Miranda's personality. I could never understand her sarcasm, and she'd roll her eyes at me when I was confused. She'd respond to my clueless comments with snappy retorts, and of course this confused me. I know now that her mother had told her about my Asperger's, but Miranda didn't seem to be willing to give me a chance.

I did many extracurriculur activities with Miranda while we were growing up - Girl Scouts, Ballet, Soccer, Theater Camp. In our spare time there would be many awkward pauses in conversation with her. Though at the time, I hadn't mastered the art of non-awkward conversation (and I still have a long way to go), I didn't have that hard of a time making friends. I did manage to gain superficial friendships with a few bubbly theatre geeks - that type of friendship is one I could handle just fine. But when society forced kids into cliques, I had trouble.

The summer before my Sophomore year of high school, we were at that same theatre camp, and Miranda and I found ourselves friends with a group of girls. There were five of us, and my naivete was overwhelmed by their uninhibited cattiness. Our group even had a name, that's how bad it was. They would talk about other kids behind their backs. There was a group of kids who were decidedly different - one boy who I later learned was also an aspie, a girl with a speech impediment, and one girl who was painfully shy. These girls were brutal to them. I didn't partake in making fun of these kids, but I didn't defend them either. I regret this.

I remember being upset by the way the girls were treating the other kids. Even though I was friends with a few of the kids that my so-called "friends" made fun of, I felt a distinct separation between us because I was "in". This was the exact mentality that I hated - I remember being on the other side at my public school, I was the one being bullied! What sort of messed-up world is this?

In time, things came between us. I had started dating one of her friends from her school, Miranda got upset, and even after her friend and I broke up (it was short-lived, anyway), she continued to ignore me, and wouldn't respond to my efforts at being friendly. Though this was easy to ignore since I had moved to another town, it was frustrating. What was so different about Miranda? There was just something I couldn't put my finger on. Her friendships with people at school revolved around obnoxious jokes and loudness, while mine revolved around shared interests. She had found a close group of friends from her school, and though I was acquainted with some of them and welcome to hang out with them, I still felt largely out of place.

We ended up growing apart, but it isn't something I regret. We'd occasionally talk throughout college, but Miranda remained her flat, emotionless self. To this day I have no clue if Miranda was consciously mean, or if she was just lacking emotion and warmth. Hell, I couldn't even tell if she was just cold or if I was turning her away with my awkwardness. Regardless of the cause of our drift, I am now aware of the type of person I get along with, and growing up with Miranda has helped me realize what traits that person has.

While I wish Miranda happiness, she isn't someone I will be turning to in times of distress. I have much warmer and more deserving friends for that. That's just life.

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