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Thursday, May 7, 2015

The Car Wash Movie Theater

A few lots down from our house, there is a gas station with a car wash.  The car was is kind of a high tech one, and when it washes cars at night, lights flash.  We can't really see it unless we are in the back yard, and I'd never thought much about it, or considered that Janey had thought about it at all.

However, a few nights ago, we were in the back yard in the evening, and Janey suddenly said "Want to go to that movie?"  We were confused, and thought maybe she meant she wanted to watch a video inside.  But she persisted "Want to go to that movie right there over there?"  She isn't much for pointing, but she was looking in the direction of the car wash.  We asked "Do you mean where those lights are over there?" and she said "Yes!  Want to go to the movie over there?"

The result of a search for an image combining "Car Wash" with "movie"!
We were quite surprised.  I had no idea Janey would have any idea what a drive-in movie would look like.  She's only been to a regular movie theater once, and it looked nothing at all like the car wash.  But the car wash DID look a great deal like a drive-in movie would look at night, viewed from a little way away.  It blew my mind.  Once again, Janey had shown us that she understands and knows about far more than we realize.

I wonder how long Janey had thought that there was a movie showing right down the street from us, one that for some reason we had never seen fit to take her to or mention.  It made me think, as I do more and more, about how confusing and overwhelming it must be to be Janey.  There are so many things she understands more than we realize, but so much she doesn't understand, and the combination probably makes the world feel like an arbitrary and unpredictable place.

Janey's brother William came home from college two days ago.  Janey was asleep when he got home, and she went to school before he was up the next morning, so the first time she saw him was when she got home from school.  She was overcome with emotion.  She hugged him over and over, back away, just looked at him, and then hugged him again.  It was like seeing someone greet a soldier home from war.  I thought about how little I think she understands that he is at college---how she probably has no real idea what college even is.  In her eyes, people disappear at times, for days or for months, to go to places that have names but that she can't picture at all---"college", "work", "high school".  They must seem to come and leave at random times.  I think it's why she gets so upset if Tony is home even a little late from work, or sometimes if it's home early.  She has figured out his schedule, and that feels like something to grasp in the uncertainly.

As I slowly try to understand Janey's perception of the world, there are still always mysteries I can't figure out.  After Janey hugged William, she kept saying "There is my mother!  There is my mother!"  I was near them, but I don't think she was just saying that.  Somehow, she was trying to tell William something about me.  Maybe she was realizing that I am William's mother too, or saying that William and I look alike, which we do to some extent.  Maybe she wanted to make sure I was joining in the excitement, or commenting on how we were all together again.  I don't know.  I wish I did.

I think if I could better understand how Janey sees the world, I could better help her deal with it.  I could try to find a way to explain to her where people go when they aren't here.  I could take her to the car wash and show her it's not a movie.  I could talk to her about whatever she was trying to say about William and me.  I would hope she'd be happier in a world she better understood, but it's a huge challenge to find ways to figure out what she is thinking, what she grasps and doesn't grasp.  She is a career, a life's work, a joy and a puzzle.


Leigh said...

Great post, Suzanne and all!

By the way, the movie 'Car Wash' is a bit dated but quite hilarious!

Sabrina Steyling said...

Oh I can just imagine Janey hugging William when he got home, and it makes me smile! :)