Day 16: The Magic Hour

4 003Someone apologised to me recently for having to re-arrange our meeting. ‘Don’t worry’, I said as I arrived, ‘this is a good time’. Four o’clock is what I think of as ‘the magic hour’. It’s a time I notice: a pause or crossing. Most days I feel compelled to stop what I am doing and look up. I have been doing this for so long my timing is often exact.

While I waited for the meeting to start I reflected on when the magic hour first began. My initial thought was school; for those long years the hometime bell had rung each day at ten to four. Perhaps this was the source of the day’s magical exhale? But then I realised there was a more recent explanation: four o’clock had been Dylan time.

Continuing to work full time had only been possible in my years as a carer because of flexible work practices. I had been able to organise my teaching and other commitments so that I could leave work in the late afternoon and be home for Dylan; I would then continue working at home while Dylan relaxed. Maybe my magic hour was as much about welcoming a vulnerable child home as about a vulnerable child escaping from school at the end of the day?

Flexible working was enabling for me and I was glad of it. Having to work from home in the late afternoon, however, had an impact on my professional life.  I wasn’t able to attend the academic seminars and research events typically held as ‘twilight sessions’ at the end of the working day, for example. If I went to a day event, such as a conference, I missed the plenary. The addition of travel time, meanwhile, meant external events were out of the question. Rather than feel frustrated by what I couldn’t do, however, I switched my attention from research to management. As consequence, the last decade of my working life has felt very different to the early years.

I walked home from work tonight, however, wondering if it might be possible to get the magic back. Earlier this year, as the pressures on me escalated, I decided to give up my management responsibilities; I was stretched too thin and too far and something had to give. This was an easy decision; my children needed me and they came first. Now however, with both children settled, I have time and space again.

It feels strange not to have to rush off at the end of the afternoon. I instinctively check my watch as the hour approaches or find myself standing up, quickly and anxiously, wondering what it is I have forgotten. As the magic hour gets underway I experience time differently; it is a held place still, where boundaries dissolve. This is a good time, I have found, for doing the unexpected; reading at tangents, perhaps, or a wild card bid from the bottom of a to-do list.

Would I want to return to a management role? Not on your life. But re-starting my stalled research life – now that might interest me. So, in the last two weeks, I have spent some of my afternoon hours at seminars; today, for example, I went to one on a whim, out of curiosity.  Afterwards, walking an unmagical hour home, I wondered if I was simply distracting myself from missing Dylan. But, I reflected, some days Dylan looms large as ever in my life. At today’s seminar, for example, all I could see was the potential Fan Fiction might have for children and adults with an autistic spectrum condition (not the particular focus of the seminar). I could write a Fan Fiction story for Dylan perhaps?

At last week’s seminar, meanwhile, the woman seated next to me had asked ‘How is Dylan?’  We hadn’t recognised each other immediately; her office had been next to mine at the university where we both worked nearly two decades ago when Dylan was diagnosed (and where she works still) but I had been so long out of circulation our paths hadn’t crossed since.

‘What are you doing now?’ she asked.

‘Oh, still here’, I said. ‘Can’t get away.’

‘Have you tried?’ she asked.

‘Well, no’ I replied.

I explained that Dylan had just moved into care and that my energy had been expended on that in recent years. ‘But’, I whispered as the seminar began, ‘I guess I could now’.

After the seminar, as we said our goodbyes, her parting shot:

‘Maybe you should.’

8 thoughts on “Day 16: The Magic Hour

  1. I am also having this weird thing of suddenly having more time during the day as my youngest has gone to school, it is strange when normally so much time is taking up with worrying and planning, what to do next? Sometimes having time to think about yourself is so alien it takes you by surprise.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I am very grateful that after the initial 2 or 3 years doing everything therapy and attending every ‘support’ group OR creating them I moved on. I could choose to live the ‘problem’ or i could choose to live my solution. Yes I was still therapist 24/7, and sometimes didn’t notice it. When I noticed it I wallowed in it sometimes and complained and felt heavy and drained. Other times when I noticed it, my pride said DON’T YOU SEEEEEEEE ME DOING ALL OF THESE FANTASTIC THINGS!!?? Don’t you see how far along and more independent he seems?!

    I had to learn to fullfill my Self, to self actualize around and despite, or alongside of disease type things going on in life here, there are other health things too.

    As I sit here typing, I think OH YOU LIE! And i think about movies that display a thing i do or that i wish to express, or the same in a book. Not just about asd but about living or not living life, expression, passion. I suppose I learned or continue to learn how to see me as separated-separate from my children and from others around me. Perhaps too, it is a choice for each being to attend to, to be present in, to notice and to choose this observation over that one. I can sometimes dislike having to choose, which for me can mean I have to lose this or that.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Pingback: Day 71: Living In The Brackets | Living with(out) Autism

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