Very few people know this about me….I’m terrified of transitions and travel. Some of my followers may remember that three years ago I admitted this and went in my home, locked the doors and barred the gates and vowed never to leave.
Then a man came and took me to Europe promising to ‘hold my hand and show me new horizons’. Well, that didn’t happen. So now I’m seeing Europe on my own trying not to panic every time I have to get from point A to point B. In Athens, people ask me if I’ve gone to the islands yet. No, it took me a month to figure out where my green grocer was, my butcher, best café, etc. and that was adventure enough. In Italy, they ask if I have seen Tuscany, or Venice. I’m still getting used to Rome.
Here in Rome, true to my form, I only go as far as my feet can carry me. If there are planes, trains or even automobiles involved, I panic on the inside. Why don’t I just go back to the US? Because I don’t like the culture, the suburbs, the cities, they don’t sit well with me. I like the quiet hearts of villages within European cities. La Plaka in Athens, Trastevere in Rome. I want my local shopkeepers to smile and wave when I walk by. I want to write, walk, eat, drink, flirt, yes, flirt, and have some laughs. I’m a simple girl, really. I want to play and sing. I don’t want to ride elephants, or snowboard, or jet ski, or jump out of a plane, although I’ve tried all of those things. They are not for me. It’s enough of an adventure getting from point A to point B when you are on the autism spectrum. When you don’t recognize people or places if the light is a little different since the last time you saw them. When you can get lost in a space as small as a phone booth.
I need to write Travel Tips for Aspies, if and when I get the time. Tip#1. Your phone may not work when you get to a new country. The very first day you will have to get a new Sim card. Make sure that when you buy a service, you ask for everything you want by name, individually: text, calls and internet. Both here in Italy and in Greece, I got one or two of these things, but not all three….not until I visited the phone store 4x in Athens did I get everything I wanted. And in Rome, I never bothered to go back to the store and only have internet—no text or calls. It is worth taking the time to get this all sorted at once, rather than waiting until you need them and then having your day totally disrupted because you don’t –case in point, I couldn’t summon Uber this morning when I needed to.
Most of all, don’t panic. Things do have a way of working out. Take it from a woman who’s car broke down halfway across England and so she just abandoned it, and did the same years earlier in Greenwich Village; who was ‘kidnapped’ by a dodgy taxi driver in Thailand. Who hitchhiked from NY to Florida when she was a teen. And who went to Athens for a weekend and found she was too ill to leave so she just stayed. Things have a way of working out. The day before yesterday, I was walking to an event, about 8 km across Rome, with a suitcase. I got as far as I could, when I saw the road burst into a complicated network of over-and-underpasses, and widen into highways. I was scuppered. I found myself at a gas station with an almost dead phone, and no energy left; at an impasse. The lovely Pakistani gentlemen there gave me a chair, a smoke, a phone charger and even offered me a ride. I didn’t take the ride as my friends were coming to get me, and of course, it’s not safe to take rides from strangers no matter how nice they seem. but I accepted everything else. I thanked them and said it was “very kind”. “Not at all, said one of them, named Kasim, “it’s a human thing.”