What I admire most about her is she lives her life in black and white. Shades of gray only serve to confuse her. She is precise and lives a controlled flow of experiences that she is comfortable with. In another time she would have been deemed a shaman or a medicine woman for her focus and special abilities. In our society, she is reserved and careful of who she trusts with her talents. She is a very high functioning person on the autistic spectrum, I’m guessing. At 50 she has worked 6 days a week for the last 30 years in her bookstore. Who among us can say they have dedicated that amount of their lives to a careful rhythm of putting one foot in front of another, regardless of what the bigger picture appears to hold? Daily life is best regimented to the routine she has developed and that has included being surrounded by books, by the most basic of communication short of conversation. And she managed her small business to perfection.
When you meet her, you recognize she orbits outside what society calls regular behavior. I allow for adjustments to my regime. She is flustered by them. Yet, her grasp of life is so carefully expectant of the routine, that I am reminded to pay attention to the details. She is very grounded in her rigidity. She expects no less than what she gives; courtesy, manners and respect are utmost in her realm. Order and dependability are what she counts on for daily life and when they are violated, she doesn’t have a “go to” emotion.
I am constantly amazed by her devotion to those who fit neatly into her puzzle and am surprised, when in my haste to carry out some seemingly meaningless task, she takes offense at my lack of attention. A good example was the other day when I was refilling the little sample box. I neglected to put the bottles facing the same way so the tags were instantly visible to the customer. She stopped at the box straightened the tiny bottles and kiddingly chastising me for my carelessness. She was right of course, that small adjustment made all the difference in the presentation.
We’ve grown quite close. She stops by to visit me at work, on her way home from volunteering at Crotched Mountain. Every Thursday, she helps with the children’s day care unit. Slowly, she has begun to tell me of the children with disabilities that discolor the world they find themselves in. She portrays them with such uninhibited love, I am reminded to see with my heart first, eyes and brain much less…