Will You Watch Mulan with Me for the Hundredth Time?

Diego is lucky to have a friend who gets some of his unique interests

Two young men smiling
Diego and Owen, Winter 2016

Diego eats sushi for lunch on Fridays. It took just two straight Fridays of sushi lunch for it to become the official Friday lunch. Whenever an event happens with any regularity in his life, Diego will find a pattern to it and insist that it must occur at an equivalent interval henceforth.

That’s why, for the past four and a half years, we’ve been driving up from Connecticut to Cape Cod once a season. The Cape is where Diego went to a post-secondary program for students with disabilities and learning differences. After he graduated in spring 2015, we went back to visit that year’s summer and fall. The pattern and the expectation had been set: visits to the Cape shall take place once every season.

Such visits include a stop at Riverview School and a sleepover at Owen’s place. Diego adores Owen, whom he met in summer camp in Colorado and later reunited with at Riverview. They share a diagnosis of autism and, most importantly, a unique passion for Disney movies.

Some peculiar things make Diego happy, very happy. What I mean by “peculiar” are things that other adults, particularly “normal” ones (that is, those without a developmental disability) would find boring, meaningless, even unpleasant. I’m talking about, for example, watching Mulan for the hundredth time, collecting every single movie edition of Aladdin, and listing the release year of Disney movies from Snow White to the present.

It’s terribly hard for Diego to find people who enjoy these things the same way that he does. As we go through life, we learn to like, appreciate and even love things we used to find uninteresting or even dislike. An “acquired taste” is what we call it. Coffee and wine are acquired tastes for me. (In truth, the former is more of a dependency at this point.)

No adult I know, however, could acquire a taste for seeing Mulan a hundred times. It makes me sad sometimes that no one in Diego’s daily life really gets how he feels about it or about having the latest Aladdin Blu-ray edition. Not even me, his mom.

And this is why I must take Diego to Cape Cod to visit his friend Owen every season.

Two young men smiling
Diego and Owen, Fall 2018
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