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Sunday, January 22, 2006

Special Olympics

I spent yesterday at New York Chiropractic College on Cayuga Lake. When we arrived the temperature was in the mid 50's, by the time we left it was near freezing with strong, bitter winds. This winter has been one where we can truly say, if you don't like the weather wait an hour and it will change.

I had never driven for our Special Olympics group before. I am not comfortable around people with special needs, I don't dislike them, I'm just not comfortable. I never know where to draw the line when it goes to rules or how to react to things that are said or done. I worry about how things will go in an emergency, so I was relieved that there was almost a one to one ratio of coaches to athletes. Even though the bus was packed it was a quiet trip, probably the quietest trip I've ever had with every seat full.

Because the weather was so nice when we got there, I spent a couple of hours cleaning and then headed off in search of the cafeteria. The NYCC campus is very pretty. I walked a bit but with the wind picking up and the temperature dropping I headed back to the bus to read but shortly found myself headed into the gym to get warm.

There were three floor hockey games being played and an area where a skills competition was being held. I found our group and stood around watching for awhile. It seemed that half the people that passed me wanted to talk with me, shake hands or give me a hug. I was at a loss because I couldn't understand half of what was being said to me. The handshakes and hellos were ok but the arms around my shoulder and hugs were hard to deal with, I don't like to be touched by anyone that I don't know well but I was afraid of upsetting anyone by pulling away. I found a spot on the bleachers and was soon joined by a man that could tell me what day any date fell on. Every five minutes he reminded me that I was named for a famous character from children's literature. We discussed Jesus and Wilson Picket; he sang me some of Picket's songs. Sometimes I felt like I was talking to any other adult but at others it was like talking to a young child. All the while we sat hip to hip. I know he was just being friendly but I was uncomfortable and I feel guilty for being uncomfortable.

I give a lot of credit to the high school students and adult coaches that work with this group on a regular basis. It seemed to be a big deal to the athletes to be there even though most of their time was spent sitting, waiting for their turn to shine. Everyone but me seemed to be having a good time.

For the trip home the weather was dismal, cold, and grey, in and out of blowing snow. Inside everyone was happy but quiet. We discussed the various wineries around Cayuga and Seneca Lakes. As we passed the "eagles" nest on Rte 5 that I had passed many times when S was at Wells someone saw a peregrine falcon fly into the nest. We munched on homemade chocolate chip cookies (we won't mention that to the boss) and I was not alone in observing and enjoying the scenery as we headed home as I usually am.

Over all it was a fairly enjoyable day.

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