I am hoping to take some photos of the night sky but whilst the conditions are great weather wise, the timing of my visit couldn’t be much worst. On a yearly scale timing is good, the Milky Way should be clearly visible and prominent to the south, but it is the monthly scale that is the issue. The moon is one or two days away from a full moon and it gets worst. The Milky Way is just to the left of the lovely brightly shining moon. It is nearly 11pm here. I have found a spot beside a house which effectively blocks out the direct light of the moon but despite this, a 30 second exposure at F2.8 ISO 1600 leaves the image looking like it has been taken in bright sunlight. I am waiting for the sky to get darker, but who am I kidding? It is the scattered moonlight that is illuminating the scene. I am on holiday though and I want to see whether it gets any better. I know it is a lost cause, but there is a part of me that has to see this through. I can only really know it wasn’t me that was at fault if I follow through and find out for myself.

If only all things were so easy to accept failure at. It may be silly to do what I am doing but nothing is really to be lost except perhaps a bit of sleep. I was reading today about how an autistic blogger took the risk of inviting other autistic people, whom she had only met once, to stay at her house for the weekend and socialise. Why was it a risk? Well for a start perhaps nobody would turn up and also if they do turn up then how do you construct a weekend of socialising that supports all their needs? Well people did come and the group had a good time because she had constructed a group of like-minded people who simply understood each other’s point of view.

Autistics are human too and have a need to be sociable but so often the rules and regulations of communicating with others are so baffling that too much energy is needed to understand others or get other people to understand them.  Too much energy is needed to get other people to understand me and for me to understand them.  It could be so much easier to socialise with like-minded people and I might gain a lot. Yet I have avoided taking this risk, and the article forced me to question why I hadn’t tried yet.

I do not take on new weekly commitments easily, in fact I often struggle with the weekly undertakings that I am used to full stop. Being in groups means being social and no matter how well I know the people and enjoy their company, there is an effort involved, a deficit to be had, which means that I instinctively want to avoid their company whilst at the same time know that I need to do the activity to do the things I want to achieve. The achievement can be a simple thing like getting fitter so for instance going swimming involves going to a building that is hot, humid and noisey. It involves swimming in a lane where I have to be aware of the people around me (when will the faster swimmer catch up to me?) and where strangers will bump into me and touch me. My love of swimming can overcome this at a time when the pool is quiet (3pm) but by 9pm my general fatigue makes the inertia so much greater. I can get around this by asking somebody to give me a lift but that has complications too, I am waiting to see if they turn up, chatting during the journey when I might want to be quiet.

Starting something new will have all the general difficulties of my standard commitments but with extras sprinkled on top. I won’t know the people so an awful lot more effort will be required to make contact, more bizarre questions to endure, answers to be filtered, even decisions to be made about what to wear. Why not just be yourself? I hear you say (well it’s me pretending to be you where you is NT) and the answer is that being myself isn’t socially acceptable. A guy sitting in the corner observing the room creeps people out. A guy that doesn’t shake hands, introduce himself, ask your name immediately and gives you short, blunt answers is considered rude. A guy that seemingly randomly laughs at things “not funny” who is unable to explain why it is funny to them is an oddball.

I guess the problem is that I know I am different and I don’t like being reminded that I am. I want to fit in, feel comfortable and tell a good story, or joke. Basically I don’t want to be me, which is really rather sad for who else can I be? So what I am on about when I don’t want to meet other people on the autistic spectrum? What is the problem with being people like me so that I can feel relaxed enough to be myself? I could point out that being autistic means different things to different people, I could point out that we are not all academic achievers but I think that is smoke and mirrors. I think I am afraid of being labelled in that group, of the world seeing me as I am. I have spent 50 years pretending to be somebody different than my core being. Letting go of that mask is scary. My partner finds it challenging being with the hidden man not the man she married but she has committed to me. My mask is so habitual with my friends, I don’t know where I am inside it but perhaps my friends are the ones who can help me unravel the pieces.

Equally perhaps my potential new ASD friends can help me identify my core-self outwards. Fifty years makes for a very thick rooted mask, it is going to take a while to loosen it up, thin it in places, and let the inner me peep through. To be honest I think I already peep through, I am afraid my world can’t take anything bigger.