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Going Solo: An Introduction

By Merrick Egber


It was an exciting day when I turned 30. For many people, the idea of spending what should be a celebratory event at the tragic site of Clear Lake, Iowa, in the Surf Ballroom where Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and the Big Bopper played their last show before the “Day the Music Died,” would seem a little bit depressing. However, I found the darkness and history of this site to be an interesting and exciting way to spend my 30th birthday. I had no companions, an acute phobia of heights, lived with my parents, and was a year into my part-time job at the Els for Autism Foundation.

Up until this point, my only jobs had been either temporary or part-time, and I was starting to feel old. I suffer from what I’ve termed “disassociative depression” (a depression at odds with my objective reality) anxiety, and constant suicidal thoughts. I wasn’t sure if I would even live long enough to see a full-time prospect, or live on my own, but two years later some dramatic changes would unfold.

I was interviewed for a few magazines, had the opportunity to speak in public at a few of the Foundation’s events, and in January 2019 I was declared a full-time Administrative Assistant for the Foundation–one of the few individuals with autism to have such a position.

When I started my new role, my first thoughts were of fear, of nervousness–those malnourished maladies of malaise still try to influence me heavily–but through the scaffolding process the Foundation has given me, it has been a somewhat easy slip to go from part-time to full-time.

Through this promotional update of my responsibilities, I finally convinced myself to put money down on a nearby apartment, to live alone at the age of 32, a time where much of my generation– especially the autistic members–still live with their parents.

This article series is not just to show people what it is like to be a millennial with autism who lives alone, I also hope to inspire and empower anyone who longs to be independent. Maybe, down the road, I’ll even have a companion which will show how far I’ve progressed in my life.

Lest you think that this comes completely unattached, dear readers, that is not the case. My parents have agreed to half-subsidize my monthly rent, and if everything falls through, there is still a beacon where they will be. They have also asked that I check in with them, when the times are right, and that I spend a day with them once a week, which I will see how much all of it is needed.

I may have mentioned previously, in a prior blog article, about an earlier experience in an independent living program up in Gainesville, Florida from 2004 – 2006, but that was a different situation with three additional roommates. It has always been my desire to live alone and this experience will resolve.