I wasn’t the first nor the last person to move from the hinterlands to Washington, D.C. to work for U.S. Gov. It was at first exciting to see D.C. tourist attractions since I was a history buff in school. Then, weeks later, it dawned on me I wasn’t a tourist, I had a rash of panic attacks. I came close, many a time, to escaping D.C. by way of a one-way ticket on a Greyhound bus.
I did take up a hobby to occupy my weekends. I bought a video camera. Not like the ones today that you can hold in the palm of one’s hand. The one I had resembled a heavy-sized one you might see a TV camera person walking around with on their shoulder.
With my having been diagnosed with autism only a few months ago, I have a different pair of lens looking back at my video filming days. I may have gone too far with this hobby as I have with other hobbies or interests. I would go to some historical landmark to film every weekend. I traveled solo as north as Philadelphia, as west as West Virginia, as far east as the Delaware beaches, and as far south as near the border of Virginia/North Carolina. I put a lot of miles on my Chevy Cavalier. No wonder its alternator and battery died on the very same evening.
Some of you will find this hard to believe, but some of you won’t, that I was so desperate to get the JFK Center for the Performing Arts on video that I stood on the highway ramp to one of the bridges that cross the Potomac River. As cars whizzed by me, I was holding my big video camera aiming straight towards the JFK Center. No doubt those driving by thought they had seen everything until they saw me. HA!
The oldest part of Washington, D.C. is the neighborhood called Georgetown. It is the home of Georgetown University and the home of many of those who get invited to White House parties. I went one Saturday morning to a famous church in the neighborhood. I parallel parked at an empty parking space near the church door of the Holy Trinity Catholic Church.
There was an historic sign in front that stated it had been a place where John and Jacqueline Kennedy had attended church. I eagerly filmed the outside of the beautiful white church building. I noticed white bows tied along the gate but thought nothing of it. I decided to venture further and capture more of the neighborhood on film.
As I was walking back, I noticed some people were gathered around the front of the church. There were no empty spaces on either sides of the street. They were all dressed up and it finally dawned on me they were having a wedding. Since there were several pairs of eyeballs peering at my Chevy, I figured somebody wanted my parking space, like maybe the bride and groom. I also noticed something else that was making my car stick out like a sore thumb. All the other cars were parked facing the opposite direction of mine. Oops!
I know the common sense thing would have been to make a beeline for my Chevy and drive off. But one of the autism behavior traits that one on the spectrum might have is a lack of common sense. No kidding! My line of thinking was to keep on walking and wait the wedding out. Then, I’d skedaddle. Bad plan!
After a walk around the block, there was stll a line of wedding guests standing near my car. I swallowed my pride, went over and got inside my Chevy without making any eye contact with anyone! After several attempts, I successfuly made a U-turn and headed out not looking back.
It was one of those times when I was sure thankful that I couldn’t read people’s minds.