01 September 2005

time-lapse traffic

A day with nothing pressing to do. I float sleepily around the house, eat cornflakes with a banana chopped up on top, lie in bed finishing off a small rock of resin my cousin gave me and watching the rest of Poltergeist. I ponder the art of inactivity. I used to be so good at it then, suddenly, if I wasn’t doing something or didn’t have some plan, I would completely freak out. I think it was that year off doing nothing but getting high around sion’s flat that did it. Here, in my own place, I can feel that old sense falling back into place, a piece of puzzle finally returning to the throne of my consciousness. I feel less frantic. When I lived at home I would make lists of people to go and see, places where I could crash, things I could do that would get me out of the house. I would hound my friends desperately. I just wanted to hide, to get away, to be somewhere else with people that came that little bit closer to being like me. I would disappear for days at a time with nary a phone call home. I would just be gone, in transit, anywhere but there.

I shouldn’t of stayed so long, in that house, with those people, my family. I was scared to leave. When I was at my worst, screaming from the back of my throat, and clawing at my skin with overgrown fingernails, my mother would always say that I could live there for as long as I wanted. It was the only thing she could think of that would help. My sister Megan felt otherwise. She figured that at my ripe old age of 22 I should have left home years ago. She pushed me to leave, picking holes in whatever I said or was doing, dragging razorblades along my bones in an effort to drive me away. Things between me and Megan have always been tense. We’re two very different people at the same time similar. I remember, when we were younger, I had done something to upset her. She chased me screaming to my room where I shut her out, pressing against the door as she frantically pushed back., our babysitter pleading with Megan to calm down but being silenced by her own impotence. Then she stopped trying to get in and ripped up all my Tank Girl posters. I cried for a week. Nobody can stop me and my sister arguing once we get going. Neither willing to back down, neither willing to concede. A battle of wills.

I can’t decide whether I should go and see someone. Normally, the compulsion would have already pushed me out of the house. Here in Newport I need persuading. At the back of my skull I ponder what being on my own for a period of days would do to my mental state. I have a predisposition towards peculiarity already. I talk to myself constantly, I act out little scenarios I invent in my head, whilst walking down the street with people passing me either way I find myself singing out loud until I catch myself. Sometimes I don’t bother to stop. I’ve always felt that if I was alone for too long a period I would tumble into a strange, self-destructive melancholy, a kind of neurotic insanity; have felt it often behind my eyes and deep in my chest, tingling at the ends of my fingers. I used to think that feeling would devour me. These days I’m not so sure.

I remember coming to a shining truth once. It hit me all of a sudden, flooded me, sluiced around my organs: The reason I felt so fucked up and broken, twisted, stupid and useless wasn’t because there was something wrong with me. It was because of my environment. Because my family just didn’t understand me. It felt strange to be living an adolescent cliché, but it was entirely true. Cliché becomes cliché through repetition, because these things keep happening so regularly that they merge with the kitsch level of reality, perpetuated by woman’s weeklies and the Sunday sport. Photocopied beyond all meaning, to the point of ambience, low-frequency background noise. I realised that if I was ever going to stop feeling so bipolar I would have to leave. In one way it was a kind of relief. In another, a whole new kind of pressure and melancholy. I felt trapped, like I’d never be together enough in my head or in life to be able to move out. With Megan constantly pushing and sniping I thought I would implode. For months after the revelation that feeling would hang over me like a grand piano, fighting for pride of place with the part of my mind that wanted nothing more than to realise all the ideas that rushed through my head like time-lapse traffic, filling the space with noise and voices. I either felt determined or defeated and neither would linger long enough for me to be able to declare, yes, this is how I feel. This is who I am, right now.

I now realise the sheer truth of that realisation. Here, on my own, my own room, my own house, I feel almost at peace. I haven’t been struck with depression since I’ve been here. I felt frantic and helpless a couple of times but I soon got a grip. I’ll be entering my third week on Friday.

Maybe I’ll read for a while.