Sunday, March 21, 2010

Reflection: Without Direction

I got on the bus the other day, rummaged through my purse for coins, and then instead of rotating my body forwards and dropping them in the coin box, I rotated my body backwards and almost dropped them on the meter. The bus driver noticed and laughed in a good-natured way, saying "This way". She probably thought I was new to Seattle or seldom rode buses. Oh no! But I wasn't psychologically disoriented either. I was spatially disoriented. The only way I can explain it was that bending slightly and then righting myself involved change of direction, and even that very slight change of direction could cause spatial disorientation. I no longer had a sense of which direction was which.

Would it blow people's minds to know that I've lived in the same apartment for years (and though I take the stairs instead of the elevator on a fairly frequent basis) I have no idea which staircase will take me to which part of the first floor? Outside I memorize routes to and fro while failing to connect the to with the fro. I don't have a sense that I'm transversing the same small area. When I turn a corner, once I get over the disorientation, I am simply walking forwards. Ask me how the forwards I'm walking now relates to the forwards I was walking a minute ago, and I may not be able to tell you.

The situation can't be explained by profound distraction. That also doesn't explain why I have the best memory for conversation of anyone I have ever met, (recording things that seem at the time to have no significance, and then reciting them years later) yet fail to remember basic visual information about my surroundings unless I explicitly narrate it to myself. (It can be embarrassing at moments, like the times when I rode home regularly with a co-worker and, when asked to fetch something from the car, realized I had no idea what the car looked like.) ItalicI've heard people who are autistic say that they struggle to recognize faces -- in some cases, they may recognize only a few people in the world by their face. Well, I have a much better memory for faces than cars!

My brother said he'd make phone calls to see about me getting the genetic test I feel I want. I want him to really buy into it