Something special ’bout Andrew. Talks too loud, disjointed and underdeveloped speech patterns, likes to hum and spin in his front yard. Thick lenses accent his ability to stare without blinking. Won’t look you in the face, addresses you by your name instead of “you” third person style is easiest for him. Always a far away look in Andrew’s eyes.
My neighbors comprised of a young couple that I rarely talked to. They had a child every year for about 5 years. I, childless and single, had little in common with them. I had only spoken to them on occasion such as the time I climbed on my roof for the small orange ball that Andrew was hysterical about.
When I came home from the hardware store on September 11, 2001 , I was not doing well. I was having great difficulty hammering the plate that holds the new flagpole I had just purchased. I needed an actual hammer not having any success with my shoe. I needed to get that flag up so badly, despite its cliche-ness, and I was starting to unravel.
I noticed Margaret, Andrew’s mom, watching me from her front yard. She had her hands on her hips. She says Sharon are you alright? I asked her for a hammer. While she went to find a hammer, Andrew performed mini feats on the lawn with his favorite orange ball. As Margaret handed me the hammer, Andrew announced “we’re not putting up our flags because we’re happy, we’re putting up our flags because something bad happened, and it is very serious”. Both Margaret and I, stunned by his clarity, stared at him while he danced and buzzed on the lawn with his ball, and simultaneously broke into tears. I remember hugging this virtual stranger and watching Andrew dancing his special dance on the front lawn, and I wondered what the world looked like through his thick glasses.
Sharon Renshaw (San Jose, CA, USA)
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