A friend posted this. I don’t know the source [edit: thanks to @cynicalcripplepunk I now know this was originally posted by @candidlyautistic. I hope you don’t mind this, Candidly. Folk, please check out the original blog]. I figured a lot of you would enjoy it. While I’m mainly tagging this for autism, it works for other conditions too.
I don’t yet feel like I have a community of ‘penguins’ to love as I’ve met too many narrow-minded autistic people among the decent and open-minded ones. I think that, autistic or not, people tend towards mannerisms and thought processes I can’t abide. It’s not the differences between non-autistic people and autistic people I find weird, it’s the similarities.
I hope one day I’ll get the feeling of belonging to “The Tribe” so many autistic individuals speak of. I hope I’ll find many penguins to love and I hope loving sparrows becomes easier. So far, the sparrows and penguins I allow in my life for any real length of time are wonderful. I don’t see them much or get out but when I do, they look out for me.
And my own late diagnosis has mostly felt the same. I’m no longer unaware of why I am me. I’ll be going to see the doc about this comorbid ADHD possibility because of the research I’ve been doing. If it turns out the specialists agree, I’ll know there are parts to my “being a penguin” which make it difficult to get by and there’s possible treatment so I can waddle about easier, on my terms.
The sparkly purple notebook was almost always kept in a safe spot, tucked away under El’s mattress and taken out at the end of each day so that she could record, in increasingly neat and loopy handwriting, the events that had occurred since morning. In a pink or green gel pen, gifts from Nancy, El ensured that every happy detail of her life was pressed onto the page with love, preserved in writing. She had so many terrible memories and although better ones were quickly accumulating and El refused to risk forgetting a single good day.
The pages of her diary were filled with amusing anecdotes about her friends: Max trying to teach Lucas and Dustin to do cartwheels, Steve and Nancy taking her and Max to watch planes take off from the airport, going to the park with Lucas to play baseball, learning how to play hopscotch with Holly and Mike.
There were stories about her new family as well: Jim really, honestly trying to make snickerdoodles but forgetting the sugar, Jonathan teaching her how to make pancakes, folding and painting paper airplanes with Will, dancing in the living room hand-in-hand with Joyce.
But most the pages were inked with detailed memories of Mike: the way his freckled cheeks turned bright red whenever she pressed her lips to them, the way he traced pictures on the back of her shirt while they watched movies in the Wheeler’s basement, his familiar and comfortable smell (bubblegum, lavender fabric softener, and—ever so faintly—chocolate chip cookies), and his height—perfect for the piggyback rides she was consistently offered.
It was a rainy Sunday morning when Mike, with his freckled cheeks and familiar smell, appeared on the Hoppers’ doorstep, soaked to the bone but with a beaming smile on his face. He would insist, for the remainder of his life, that no rainy day was so gloomy as to dampen spending time with El.
On that day, Jim—leaving his adopted daughter in charge of the bacon bubbling on the stove—retrieved Mike a dry pair of pants and a sweater—several sizes too big, despite being from his younger, fitter days. Ushered into El’s bedroom to change, the door closed behind him, Mike caught sight of the small purple book that had been carefully placed on El’s night table. She had, unknown to him, left it out the night before. Mike contemplated the book for a long moment before picking it up and gently opening its front cover.
That evening El returned to her room, eager to commit her day of movies and board games with Mike and Jim to the familiar lined pages of her journal. She slid a hand deftly under her mattress, fingers groping for an item that wasn’t there. With some confusion, El glanced around her room, her eyes finally falling on the book, placed atop her pillow. She remembered, all at once, that she had not left it there herself.
Eyes wide, El carefully opened the book to the very last page she had written on. Immediately, on the opposite page, her gaze was drawn to Mike’s messy and unmistakable scrawl. As El read his words, her heart fluttered, a smile growing on her lips.
Hi El! I didn’t read anything, but I wanted to tell you again that I love you. You’re so perfect. From Mike.