So if I say it’s been a frenzied time in my life, none of you would doubt me. The whirlwind preparations for becoming a father would exhaust me alone. I’m also deep in a research project. And I still do a weekly podcast. And I’m going to do NaNoWriMo next month. And I read three books a week. And watch at least two movies a week. And work 42 hours a week.
OK, I’m living a hard life.
But let’s turn our attention from a place of chaos to place of calm. Today I’m going to discuss yet another one of my favorite places on Earth. I’ve looked at the library. I’ve looked at the movie theater. Both of those are extremely logical. Anybody can relate to the joy of those places. Time to look elsewhere. Time to look at the grocery store.
As soon as I say that, I can hear a record scratch in the heads of people who didn’t read the title. I can’t be serious, right? Going to the supermarket is a chore, a painful chore at that. Besides, what is there to love about the sterility of a grocery store? They’re cold, overly well lit buildings designed to sell you things which make you unhealthy or things you can’t afford.
Well I love them. I unironically love going to the grocery store. When I’m out of town, I make a point to drop into one. I got at least once a day to the ones nearby. For me, the grocery store is a place of joy and peace.
Why? Because these are safe places to me. Oh they’re not meltdown free zones. No place is a meltdown free zone. But they’re calming, peaceful places. Quiet, orderly places with reliable expectations of what I’ll find yet just enough variety to keep me energized.
This makes perfect sense when you think about it. For one, I do have a shameless sweet tooth. I love sodas, candies, cookies, chips, energy drinks. I’m always in the hunt for new ones and there’s new ones every week. I rarely get bored with the selection. BTW, I am indeed in need of weight loss, why?
There’s very vitally the fact that these places are almost perfect sensory deprivation zones. This is deliberate of course, to get you more inclined to buy. But if you’re like me, it feels nice to be in a perfectly temperate, not overly noisy, well lit place. I almost always need to grab a soda. Why not go to a safe zone?
Then there’s the order factor. Grocery stores are orderly. They’re places of precise, reliable, psychologist generated order. In contrast to many places, grocery stores are easy to move around in. I love them but bad flea markets are a nightmare. OK, maybe it’s a boring order but it’s AN order. And that’s lovely.
But then there’s just the interest. The difference between selection at chains is always widely variable. I love finding those variations. I love finding something I can only fund one place in a city. Grocery stores can be amazing places to treasure hunt.
So yeah, I have my reasons for my love. But with all of that in mind, what does that have to do with autism? Because I think we all have our secret things like this. The ordinary that we see the extraordinary in. That’s our gift. We see these things when others don’t. That’s our gift.
We need to celebrate these. We need to talk about them. We have special vision. Let us show it to others.