The Obvious Thing


Portrait of Stephanie, wearing glasses and a gentle smile, with the Ace of Spades stuck to her forehead.
What can’t I see?

Long ago I had a boyfriend who was prepared for the apocalypse. He kept a bug-out bag in his trunk, containing tools with which to rebuild Western civilization. He got into fights with cops. “They’re always pointing guns at me.”

He was the one who told me about Oklahoma stud poker: “Turns out I had the Ace of Spades on my forehead.”

The obvious thing about that relationship–it couldn’t last.

Obvious to everyone but me. Seeking advice was a skill I learned the hard way.

What’s the Ace of Spades on my forehead? What’s the water that I’m swimming in, the assumption I’m making, the stupid people trick that nobody will tell me?

Photo of wall heavily textured in beige paint, ceiling with dozens of lighted jam jars
Your filters are your framework.
Photo: Lincoln restaurant, Washington, DC

Sensory sensitivities are often Ace of Spades factors. Because you have never lived in another body; your experience is your baseline. You assume that your experience is roughly equivalent to everyone else’s.

So when you’re struggling just to BE somewhere, you take it for granted. You blame yourself. If you were tougher, it wouldn’t be so hard to focus, you would be ‘on’ more, you wouldn’t feel so drained.

Often it isn’t until someone else points it out that you’re like, whoa nelly. You mean not EVERYONE finds night clubs physically painful? They can track a conversation through ambient roar? They don’t notice that smell?

Once you’ve identified your sensitivities, so many things make sense.

And the cops stop pointing guns at you.