Growing Sideways

I’ve been thinking on this quote ever since I stumbled on it the other day: “Growing sideways is a mode of irregular growth involving odd lingerings, wayward paths, and fertile delays.”

This uneven, crabwise development pattern seems to strikingly capture autism and it's many splinter skills.

Because sometimes, things go pear-shaped. On a macro level. As in LIFE, listing to one side. And it’s tempting to dismiss these rudderless times, but on occasion - in the quiet - we see a glimpse of progress so unexpected that it stuns.

Like when Roman: a) notices his shoe is untied (<-!!!), and b) casually leans over, patiently wrangles his laces and ties his shoe several times to his satisfaction (<-!!!!!!). This, after thirteen odd years of wordlessly plopping his sneaker on my thigh so I could tie it for him. Apparently I have all-weather thighs.

Weird things are afoot. Roman could not be bribed into trying a zipline two years ago,** yet he walked right up to the one on the farm here, climbed up the ladder, and went for it. Mm-kaaaay.




Three years ago, octopus-obsessed Roman couldn’t make it to the third floor tank at the Boston Aquarium because of his social anxiety, yet he literally dragged his great aunt to see the octopus at the Monterey Bay Aquarium this past November.

I think these are manifestations of sideways growth. In investing, a sideways market - or horizontal trend - occurs when the forces of supply and demand are nearly equal.*** It’s often a period of consolidation before an uptrend. *throws salt over shoulder, hoping for a bull market in Autismland*

For us, this might mean selling our house and vagabonding in an old school Airstream. But for Roman, this might look like sitting alone in the grass, daydreaming for an hour while clouds and bumblebees swirl overhead. Something good is bound to happen after some fresh air meditation time (unless Florida fire ants are within butt radius).

Our gap year has been peppered with false starts, roadblocks, and near-misses. At times - truth be told - we’ve even gotten a little paint on the iceberg. But that’s what happens on a road trip- as John Steinbeck writes in Travels with Charlie, the trip takes you.


* From the book description of Kathryn Bond Stockton’s The Queer Child, or Growing Sideways in the Twentieth Century
** Even with a spicy salami sandwich, y’all. That’s for reals.
*** Feeling brave, and the zipline appears! It’s science.

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