The Special Days

Property of Anthony Daves

Autism Awareness Journal Experiment:

The Day to Day Experience of High-Functioning Autism

Start of Experiment: November 25, 2012

234th Day (131 Days until Birthday – Day 1 – April 4)

It's a special day today. Did you notice how the numbers go in order? Well of course you did. Not to mention today is the first day of this experimental journal. Plus, it's one month until Christmas Day, another special day. I'm sitting in my seat. My ocean blue seat at Zeiler's coffee house. Because of today I got something different to drink than my normal tall cappuccino. Today I got a grande mocha frappuccino. It tastes excellent. Chocolate syrup is an exceptional thing to add for such a day.

So I'm sitting in my ocean blue chair at the corner table towards the back of Zeiler's. I can see out the windows and I can see everyone who comes in. I sit at this little wood-paneled table of mine with my computer and my sketch pad. I observe people as they come in and get their coffee, other drinks, and sometimes pastries. I watch the ones that hurriedly leave and I watch the ones who stay.

Sometimes the ones who stay I draw in my sketch pad. I write stories about them. These stories are made up since I don't know them. If I did, I think I would still make up stories. It's lots of fun. Though there was this one time that a man I was drawing, he had red hair and he seemed to be very angry at something, he yelled at me for staring at him. When I tried to explain that I was drawing him he got even angrier. I don't really know why. But the nice barista, Caleb, helped me explain. The red haired man never came back, at least never while I was there.

I write stories about the people in Zeiler's. Most of them are "regulars" and come here quite often, just like me. But sometimes there are new people. I like to see the new people. Sometimes they take someone else's regular spot. It's funny to see where the normal person will sit then.

Today, since it's special, I was waiting for something different to happen. Hat Lady was in her bench seat by the window with a new orange and purple feathered hat. She had a new hat at least every month. Last month, the hat looked like some kind of road kill tied on with a yellow ribbon. It was atrocious. She had her computer and her mocha latte on the table; she was reading something funny, since she was smiling. Scarf Man had his nice blue and green scarf on that his mother made him; I heard him talk with the barista about it once. The matching beanie was in his back pack and the mittens in his green flannel jacket pocket. He was sitting at his steel bar stool in the opposite corner staring with high eyebrows at a magazine; so he must be reading something surprisingly controversial. Eyebrows raised that high meant he was judging whoever it was he was looking at, or reading about. Boot Lady, with her usual thigh-high, shiny black boots, was talking to the barista while he made her a caramel macchiato. She would sit at the bench seat two away from Hat Lady. Then the door chimed as someone walked in. She was new. And she was special.

She had very pretty black hair. Her skin was very white, almost glowing. And her eyes were blue, like my chair. She smiled at me when she walked in. Her smile was gorgeous. So gorgeous I had to call her Smile Lady. She walked to the counter and looked at the menu a long time. It was her first time here then. She picked, after quite some time, a tall cappuccino which is my normal drink. She had a soft brown leather bag, like a back pack but all floppy and round. She was wearing a blue and black sweater with shiny bits in it and blue jeans with white bleached marks. Her shoes were like her bag and they looked comfy. She was distinct on this special day. I wondered where she would sit.

When she got her drink she looked around for a while. It looked like she was looking at the newspaper stands and paintings but she was looking for an acceptable place to sit. She ended up picking a spot not too far from my corner table. She was not facing me though. She could see everyone else in the coffee house but me.

This was good. I could draw her this way and she wouldn't think I was staring at her like the red haired man had. So I drew her. It looked very good, so I thought of drawing another picture of her that I could paint later when I was home. But she got up and left before I started. I was sad to not have another drawing, but at least I had finished one of her. And it was special on this special day.

235th Day (130 Days until Birthday)

It's not as special today as it was yesterday. I got to Zeiler's a few minutes early though. It was really cold, even for here, so I had walked faster. I had my big, dark leather jacket on, the one that looked like Indiana Jones'; I liked this jacket immensely. It was warm, smooth, and kept me dry in almost all weather; not to mention it fit just right. Outside it was chilly, the sky was getting that snowy grey look to it, and the air had the smell of snow mixed with the normal traffic and people smells; so I would need it when I went home. I had my normal tall cappuccino and it helped warm me up too.

There she was. Smile Lady was here again. I hurried to my seat and sat. She came in and smiled at me, again. She walked over to the counter and ordered a grande hot chocolate with extra whipped cream! Maybe today was a special day for her? Or maybe she hadn't found her drink yet? Caleb handed her the grande hot chocolate and she walked over to the seat from yesterday but she didn't sit in the same spot. She sat facing me. Once she sat down I looked at my computer screen and started typing. I was writing a story with Hat Lady's character, her name was Gertrude Lane. She was an eccentric woman who used to be on Broadway years ago. She'd been amazing for years until she decided to retire from the stage and teach others to do what she had done.

I couldn't concentrate very well though. I kept sneaking glances up, over my computer, towards Smile Lady. She was smiling and reading a book with a deep-green colored cloth cover on it and drinking her hot chocolate. I decided to try and sketch her then, since she was absorbed in her novel.

I had been drawing her for a good ten minutes when I looked up to take another glimpse and she glanced up taking a sip of her grande hot chocolate and smiled at me. I stared – not just at her smile, but at the whipped cream above her lip. It was highly amusing, and I did laugh a little. Smile Lady tilted her head slightly to the left at my amusement, not knowing why I laughed. So I stopped, picked up my napkin, and looked at her as I wiped my mouth. She picked up hers and wiped her mouth, her face turned an appealing red hue all the way up to her hairline and the tip of her ears. She still smiled at me though. So I took that as a good sign and smiled too.

I tried to finish my sketch but every time I would look, she would catch me if I looked for more than a few seconds. So I stopped.

236th Day (129 Days until Birthday)

Today I got to Zeiler's later than normal. It was snowing quite a bit today. I had my Indiana Jones jacket on with warm fur lined gloves that matched. I also had a warm brown wool hat to keep my head and ears from getting cold, which works a lot better than a hat like Indiana Jones'. I had had a scarf but I left it at home. I didn't think I would need it.

Since I was rather chilled from the snow I thought I might pick a different drink. Smile Lady had chosen a good drink yesterday for a day like today. So after some thought I chose a grande hot chocolate and I actually got extra whipped cream. When I walked away from the counter I noticed that Smile Lady was already here. And she was sitting much closer to my corner table and ocean blue chair. She was only a few feet away.

I didn't know what to do, so I went and sat at my spot and turned my computer on. Once it was on, and I had my stories pulled up, I decided to take out my sketch book. Maybe if I was very discreet Smile Lady wouldn't think I was looking at her when I took sips of my grande hot chocolate?

After two tries of glancing over while sipping my cocoa and Smile Lady noticing I decided to draw Caleb instead. So I flipped the page and started drawing him making a drink for Scarf Man. After I was done drawing Caleb I went back to typing on my computer about Scarf Man's character, Robin Shaw. Then I heard a sigh close by.

I looked at Smile Lady and she was not really smiling. She was looking at a book, a journal kind of book; I could see sketches in it. She glanced up and saw me looking and her smile came back. Then Smile Lady talked to me.

"Oh, uhm, sorry to ask you sir; but you see, I was sketching you. And, well, now that you're not sketching I can't really finish the drawing. Could you sketch some more, just a little, so I can finish, please? It's been such a long time since I had a chance to sketch."

At first I did not know what to say. She was sketching me? Smile Lady was sketching me while I sketched her? It sounded funny. After a few moments I smiled, "It's ok. I need to sketch some more too. Is it ok if I sketch you too?"

"Sure, if you'd like to. My name's Meredith by the way, Meredith Belle; what's your name?"

Here, I again did not know what to say. I now knew Smile Lady's real name, Meredith Belle, and it was the first time one of my "characters" had told me their names. So I didn't know if I could still write about Smile Lady, the reader and smile-er; or if I would have to write about Meredith Belle, the sketcher and reader. And she had asked me for my name and it was only polite to give it, "Nice to meet you Meredith Belle, my name is Anthony Daves."

Here I paused, because I thought I should now say something else but I didn't know what to say. In movies, I thought, this is where I would say what my friends called me; but this was not a movie and I did not have any true friends. But my mom always called me Tony. And Smile Lady, or Meredith Belle, could call me that.

"You can call me Tony though, if you want."

Smile Lady, Meredith Belle, smiled and her eyes looked twinkly, it was pretty. "Well it's nice to meet you too Tony."

Then she went back to sketching and so did I. We sketched quietly and we only made eye contact a few more times. After a little while she looked at her watch and jumped up grabbing her things, "Sorry I've gotta rush off! I wasn't paying attention to the time and I'm going to be late. I'll see you later Tony!"

And then Smile Lady, Meredith Belle, was gone. I don't know why I didn't see today being a great day, but it was. It was one of those surprise special days that only happen every now and then.

237th Day (128 Days until Birthday)

Today there was a lot more snow. And it was colder. But I had woken earlier than normal and so I had left earlier than normal and so the snow just made me slow enough to get to the coffee house on time. Today I got a grande hot chocolate with extra whipped cream because of the cold. And maybe because Smile Lady, Meredith Belle, would probably have one too. It wasn't my normal, but that was ok.

I was sitting in my ocean blue chair in my back corner table when I saw her walking towards the door. She was wearing a long blue peat coat. It looked very warm and very cute on her. I really wanted to sketch her just like that and then paint it. Her walking through the snow just outside of the coffee house surrounded by tons of people in black coats and jackets and tons of snow and then her in a blue peat coat. A blue poufy hat on her head covering her ears and a big white scarf around her neck, hands deep in her pockets. She also had tall boots, like Boot Lady's, but they were not black or shiny. They looked like my jacket and I liked them. They curved on her calves just right and stopped at her knees.

When she came in she smiled and waved at me. I smiled too but I couldn't get myself to wave, so I nodded my head. Then I looked at my computer as she ordered a grande hot chocolate with extra whipped cream. When she started to walk my way I expected her to sit over where she had yesterday, but next thing I knew she was standing in front of me and cleared her throat, "Can I sit at the table with you Tony? I was hoping to show you my sketches if you don't mind? And maybe even see some of yours?"

All I could do was smile back at her smiling face and nod my head again. Then she was sitting across from me and taking her sketchbook out of her bag and opening it up to a certain page. She showed me her sketch of myself and it was really good. It looked like I was looking into a black and white a mirror. When I told her this she turned a little red again and said thank you. Then I took out my sketchbook and showed her my sketches. She laughed when she saw the name "Smile Lady" beneath the sketch of herself. I told her that I made up names for everyone here. I showed her my other sketches and she said they were really good. She said I should draw for the paper. I laughed and told her I did draw for a paper, a publisher too. And I write for them.

I told Smile Lady – Meredith Belle – that her sketches were great and I could show them to the publisher and get her an interview if she liked. She beamed at that, "That would be wonderful!" She reached out and touched my hand then, and just lightly squeezed it, "It'd be wonderful if I could get one of my sketches in a paper or a book!" It was strange, when she touched my hand it didn't bother me, I didn't mind it at all; though it did catch me slightly off guard.

Today was a very special day. And it was not about the day in particular any more. I knew what made my days special now. Smile Lady, made these days special. I hoped to have many, many special days to come with Meredith Belle.