From Autism Spectrum Spouse

Eighteen Years of Autistic Marriage

Eighteen Years

Eighteen years ago, I married a Russian national.

Six months later,  alone in our Moscow flat, I sweltered. Outside, smoldering peat fires ringed the city, intensifying the hottest summer in years. Open windows benefitted little when acrid smoke and automotive exhaust coated the apartment with visible grit.

Russian city life shocked me. Apartment complexes switched off hot water for half the year. Washing machines were rare and expensive. In fact, laundromats charged upwards of $20 for a modest load.  Naturally, I became accustomed to cold showers and shampooing clothes in the kitchen sink.

On this hot, lonesome day I decided to clean our sheets in the bathtub.  I visualized my husband’s surprise when he returned from the university to fresh, ironed bedclothes.

Heh.

It was a herculean effort. Linen sheets soak up an improbable amount of water. Each wet sheet weighed as much as a small child. Squeezing out water consumed most of the afternoon.

I reflected as I worked the sheets.  Marriage is one of the greatest choices in life. Even in a foreign country, whose language I did not read or speak, laundry took on a quality of romantic suffering.  Genuine misery could have been a real probability.

We chose marriage within months of meeting. Something seemed profoundly right about togetherness. As a woman with Asperger’s, misreading others is de rigueur. Circumstance blessed me.

I hauled the sheets to the kitchen laundry lines (anything hung outside collected soot from cars passing below).

Despite my best efforts to wrest out the water, the sheets dribbled lukewarm puddles on to the kitchen table and floor. The puddles required towels that would similarly need to be wrung out and dried. I laughed.

Life is like this: circular, ironic, difficult and blissful. I stood in the steaming summer kitchen joyous. I had the perfect partner to pass through time with.

Married 18 Years!

My husband arrived late that evening and nearly fainted from shock.  It was a man’s duty to wrestle sodden sheets, he emphasised. I overlooked the subtle sexist remark. Those sheets were heavy!  He slept on crinkly bare mattresses without complaint.

Eighteen years later, I am still mind-numbingly  grateful.

Egor is my anchor–prudent, unprejudiced, intelligent and unflappable. His solidness balances the flinging vigor of my moods. I am a zany planet orbiting my husband’s grave and pensive sun.  He is nourished by my chipper, eccentric energy.

The two of us once joked how we did not view each other as people, but rather as special beloved pets.

This makes sense. When a pet lover comes home to a wagging tale or resounding purr, is their heart not instantly filled with the purest, most non-judgmental love?  I want to yodel when I see my hubby in the morning.  If I had a tail, I’d thump glasses off tables.

So, I raise that upturned glass to my special interest of eighteen years.  Happy anniversary, dear Egor!

Seventeen Years

Anniversary 2012

Happy anniversary to my Dobre Moosh (kind husband)

from your

Dobreya Bedonichka (kind but silly noise-making person)

Digital elements by Rosey Posey.

Falsetto

music

Last Wednesday night, the house resounded with falsetto yelps.

Once again, my husband had decided to train his voice.

Dozens of voice training videos on YouTube tantalized him with results. “Try this, Friend! You can sound like Richie Sambora!”

Egor settled on his favorite few. He practiced interminably throughout the holiday vacation.

Thanksgiving day, he practiced the “Mee mee MEE mee mee MEE” voice exercise lampooned on old cartoons.

All day.

Every few minutes we would hear “Mee mee MEE mee mee MEE,” followed by throat clearing and another “Mee mee MEE mee mee MEE.” He took breaks to drink water and eat. The rest of the time he sang.

Concerned, my mother asked me if he was okay. I told her yes, it’s just his thing.

Sunday evening, my husband switched exercises.

WHOOO-ooooo-oooo,” he howled. “What’s that noise!” hollered Tyoma from his bedroom. “WHOOO-ooooo-oooo,” repeated Egor. “What’s that NOISE!” countered Tyoma.

This exchange lasted until my exhausted son fell asleep.

Last night’s exercise was, “EEEEEEE-uuPP.” “Papa! Stop that!” shouted Tyoma. And so on.

The good news is that Egor’s practice sessions signal a long-lasting cheerful mood.

The bad news is that in time he will realize his devoted practice will not give him Bon Jovi’s awesome mixed voice talent. Discouraged, he will abandon his training for another six weeks.

I like my husband’s ee-ups, whoos and mees. I even like my son’s half-hearted irritability over them. The swinging cycle of confidence and dismay flavors our ordinary suburban life.

Every cycle, my husband sings a bit better. Every cycle, the cheer lasts a little longer. One day, it will be all music.

Harmonica Joy

Last weekend, Egor and I enjoyed  a few hour to ourselves.   I parked my butt in front of my laptop to research Pre-Raphaelite and Symbolist paintings. Egor skulked off to dig around in the basement. Ten minutes later, I heard music. Egor had unearthed the harmonica.

I love harmonicas.  They are the happiest, blingiest musical instruments ever invented. When I was a kid, my Grandmother played old country tunes on her harmonica. It was magic! How could anyone coax music out of a stubborn metal bar? I spent a childhood summer trying to teach myself. I could not figure it out.

So, when I heard my husband playing a song, a fiery joy bloomed in my heart. I hopped out of bed and clattered down the stairs, singing. In the kitchen, I did a tiny dance and fussed over the harmonica. It took ten minutes for the intense nostalgia and pleasure to subside enough for me to be calm.

I Love Harmonicas

I realized then that I had been celebrating the harmonica concert on tip toes. In fact, I toe walked non-stop as I enjoyed his playing. Huh. I never really thought about it before. Why do I do this? Well, it feels great. The combination of pressure and balance blends with the joy I feel.

And I do feel joy. Pure, mindless ecstasy. The sensation is so intense, it automatically  triggers a physical reaction. This connection between mood and body certainly underlies the human desire to dance.  Such a pity that this drive was installed in such a clumsy body.

Fortunately, my husband jovially puts up with my fits of rapture. He spent the rest of the day practicing harmonica, oddly playing “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” amidst blues riffs.

After the second hour, of “Twinkle,” I almost asked him to choose another song. But, he has his thing, and I have mine.  For revenge, I planned to ambush him with a lecture on French Symbolist painters.

Respite!

On weekends, our  respite worker takes our son on little adventures. This works well on two levels. First, it gives my husband and me some quiet time together. Second, our neurotypical caretaker can do things that would frazzle ouroverworked  Aspergerian nerves.

Places like the  Children’s Museum  are not unduly torturous.  However, it is a triple burden to drive, manage Tyoma’s anxiety, and cope with our own sensory issues in one day. So hooray for respite!

We plan to quietly cohabit the same room all afternoon. I might make some tea and sing loudly to the cat.