Love and the things that it is.

Harvey Wust is a twelve year old boy with Autism.
With a surprisingly advanced view of the world, and no small amount of cynicism, he sets out to understand love, and discovers something that he never really expected.

For the John Green competition. It's primarily about suddenly realising that you are in love, but there's some dealing with pain in there too.


3. Love and how I should understand it.

A while ago in school on valentines day we did some things about love and I could not do them.

We were asked to do things such as write poems about love and try to describe love and talk about what our ideal person would be like and that sort of things and I was no good at it and that upset me. In the end I got so confused and upset that they had to take me out of the classroom and call Mama and ask her what they should do.

Sometimes when I get upset there is no sensible thing to do. This is usually when I am upset because my head is full. My head can get full for lots of reasons. Sometimes it is because I feel overstimulated and afraid, or sometimes I am just afraid, but for a lot of reasons. Often it is because somebody is talking to me too fast and I am not understanding what I am hearing and I am so busy trying to understand the first things that were said that I don't have space to figure out the newer things and my head just gets too busy and everything starts to spill over and I can not manage any more. 

It is like I am in a rowing boat which has got a hole in it and I only have my hands to scoop the water out. I can stay afloat for a while but I am eventually going to sink. And when people try to help me it becomes like they are waves that come and rush over the sides of my rowboat and make it worse to pull me under.

And that is when there is no sensible thing to do except leave me until I become sensible. 

They phoned Mama and she said to leave me to calm down with some paper and a pencil and she would come and pick me up when she had finished work. That is what she did.

When I got home Mama said that she wanted to talk to me. Mama often wants to talk to me but she does not usually announce it unless she has something serious and important to say to me, so I was quite worried that I was going to be in trouble with her.

I was not in trouble actually. Mama sat down across from me at the dining room table and looked at me a bit sadly for a while but she was smiling. I usually find it very difficult to tell what people are feeling and especially when they are doing things like smiling sadly. But I know Mama very well and she does smiling sadly with me a lot so I know what smiling sadly looks like. Mama does smiling sadly a lot with me because she likes me a lot and I make her happy but I am also very difficult to understand and I do not behave like other people do. This means that even when something I have done something that upsets he because I have acted wrong, she will still smile because the things that I do are what make me who I am and Mama loves me because of who I am. 

Mama was doing a sad smile and I said to Mama "You are sad. Why are you sad?"

Mama said to me "I'm not sad, Harvey", but her expression did not really change and she still to me looked sad. 

"Mama you are lying. Why are you sad!?" I said this in an angry voice because Mama was lying. Lying is always wrong. Lying makes the world even more confusing than I already find it and I do not like that. It is just not fair. I was angry and I wanted to cry but I did not because Mama sometimes cries when I do and I find it frightening when my Mama cries because it means that she does not know what to do and if Mama does not know what to do then I don't think that anybody can.

Mama looked down and then looked up at me again. And she sighed and opened her mouth and then closed it again. And then she looked down. And then she put her hands on the table and she had them curled up into loose fists. I wanted to reach over and curl them into tight fists because that looks and feels nicer to me, but I did not because it would have been a very rude thing to do.

And after a while when she was still looking down, she said to me.

"I would like to hug you Harvey. I know that you don't like being hugged, but it would make me feel safe. Is that okay Harvey?"

I said "Yes." because the correct thing to do when somebody is sad is the thing that will cheer them up. 

Mama got up and she came to hug me and I stood up and let her. She stroked my hair. Then she pulled my head close to her and said to me this:

"Harvey... the... the school said. The school said to me that you told them you... you were upset because you don't think you can love people."

Mama sounded very sad and upset. She let go of me and knelt down so that she could look at my face and she said

"Harvey. Listen to me right now, Harvey, and make sure you remember this, okay? Harvey, your ASD does not mean that you can not love people. It does not mean that you can not feel things. And Harvey, please, please believe me- it does NOT make you any less than human!"

As she said this, Mama cried. 


I did not understand what she meant. At first I was going to try and look confused, but then I thought that Mama was upset and the right thing to do was the thing that would cheer her up, which was to understand. So I nodded and let her hug me some more. 

While she hugged me I thought about what she had meant.

I decided that she had meant that love was something that she thought I could understand and I just thought that I could not because of my ASD. This is not true. I can not understand love because I can not understand love. 

But I would not be able to make Mama happy until I could. 

And that is when I decided that I would have to learn about love.

But first, I went upstairs and cried and felt very scared because Mama had cried.

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