A Holiday Love Story

December 16, 2014

Tags: Asperger's, Jack and Shirley Silver Center for Special Needs

Seth Mintz and Jennifer Garcia. Photo by Carol Bergman
Jennifer Garcia and Seth Mintz met five years ago at special needs program at the Jewish Community Center in New York where I swim. The tall, handsome couple can be seen holding hands in the lobby as they arrive for their activities in the “Adaptations" program. I always greet Jennifer and Seth, both of whom are warm and well mannered. I shake Seth’s hand and give Jennifer a hug. Their obvious love for one another, consideration of everyone they meet and civility, makes me smile.

I had first met Jennifer at the pool where she collects membership cards, puts them in a metal file box, and then returns them to us as we leave. This is her job and she takes it seriously. She is a formidable young woman— friendly, attentive and caring. If I mislay my lock and have to bring my valuables to the pool deck, she will take care of them. If I forget my goggles, she will find me a pair of goggles. She wishes me a wonderful weekend and has asked about my life and my writing life. Often, I have stood dripping in my towel to have the pleasure of talking to her.

Recently, she told me that she belongs to a literary club in the Adaptations Program and has been writing poetry. Did I want to come to a reading? You bet.

The reading was last Sunday, one of the last before Christmas, so not as well attended as usual, Jennifer told me. I was her guest. She introduced me to her friends, showed me some art-work she had done, the buffet of healthy food, and led me to a seat in the front. Did I know she had Asperger’s? I did not. She is twenty-seven, and still living at home, but once she and Seth get married, they will move into an apartment together. He was there too, of course; he attends all her readings with devotion.

Jennifer was the first up to read, the first of four. She read a prose poem that begins with the phrase, “gone with the wind.” She hadn’t seen the movie. No drafts, she writes straight into her notebook—stories, poems, story poems—whatever comes to her. The assurance with which she stood at the podium and spoke her work clearly and slowly into the microphone was an inspiration. She is an inspiration.

The other readers were also incredible. Good stories, all well told, by brave writers.

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