Friendships aren’t found; they’re built.
I’d just moved from Iceland to Jacksonville, Florida. Moving and resetting life was common, but as a pre-teen, I felt way more self-aware — awkwardness, shyness, oddness and all.
We met our next door neighbors. They were helpful. As parents of children do when sizing up up other parents of children, they told us about the other kids nearby.
“Oh, hopefully you guys meet Zach,” they said. “He’s around Hunter’s age, great kid. Babysits our son. Real nice guy.”
Ok, I thought, hopefully we get to meet this guy.
This is where an interjection would be helpful.
There’s no guidebook on making fast friends on The Life Autistic.
It’s just “throw something out there and hope it sticks.”
As a boy, I found myself at a rare intersection of oblivious confidence and embarrassing awkwardness.
So what you’re about to read: don’t try it at home. Or anywhere.
Two days later, my dad, my brothers, and I were out on the driveway when we spotted a teen steering his bike down our street.
It had to be him.
I stepped forward. He slowed down.
“Hey,” I shouted. “Are you Zach?”
“Do you believe in God?”
“Do you wanna ride bikes?”
“Ok, well, uh . . . I need to build mine first.”
Miraculously — after being accosted by this pasty, odd fellow teen who assessed one’s theism and badgered you into biking before his own ride was even built — Zach didn’t speed away from what surely qualified as “pedal away from kids like this.”
He stuck around. We rode bikes, hung out, did stuff, and ended up good friends.
My whole intro was preposterous. I’m quite doubtful I could make another friend that way.
The normal reaction to my abnormal interrogation would have been to just wave, peace out, and call it day.
On The Life Autistic, we are most often saved and shaped by the kindness of others: those who dare to stop, to listen, to wait for someone who needs to build their bike first before building a friendship.