Something happened tonight that hasn’t happened in seven years.
“Surprise,” I chime in alongside friends gathered to celebrate our friend’s 65th birthday.
I choose a tan wicker rocking chair on the back patio where I engage in conversations. I catch up with some friends and reconnect with another I haven’t seen in years. The carrot cake is delicious. I savor every bite. I’m comfortable updating friends about my life, my adult daughters, and of course, our three precious grandchildren.
But what I don’t do is the significant part. I don’t sit quiet as a mouse observing so I can conserve my energy. I don’t leave the group because it’s too noisy to find solitude in a peaceful location. I don’t excuse myself to clean up my usual spilt drink because I don’t spill my Diet Coke.
I don’t startle and jump because someone drops a fork on the tile. I don’t roam around searching for the family cat since petting kitty provides a legitimate distraction. I don’t hide behind my camera when I can’t understand the conversation.
I don’t wander off to “help” since I can’t construct a coherent thought or form a complete sentence. I don’t walk to my car to dig up something I “forgot” when I can’t track the cross-talk of multiple conversations. I don’t go through the motions because I’m disconnected, staring off with a blank expression.
Tonight, I do none of these things. The things I’ve managed to do for seven years to compensate for my brain impairment in social settings. Indeed, something happened tonight. I initiated conversations. I added to stories. I asked questions. I laughed. I enjoyed myself fully…I didn’t escape.