Civilisation becomes more of a shock to the system every time I venture out into it.
Back visiting home. The pink dye that leaked from my makeshift purple glittery black eye for last night’s “make up your own super hero” party has not faded. Nor have the pretend injuries I drew on with eyeliner. I try to remove them and instead uncover new layers of dirt that become more prominent every time I clean a different part of my body. Its like I’m highlighting them. I discover it is futile and resolve to continue to be mucky with tiny spots of clean in glaringly obvious patches. I feel my appearance reflects the level of care I have applied to myself of late.
For the first time since I moved away, I wasn’t anxious when I drove back up north. I was excited, really, really happy to see my friends. But I am massively aware that something has changed in me. I still love these people dearly… I fit with them. But not in this place… Sheffield feels wrong now, or at least something does. I want to drag them out of here and into a different reality. Somehow everything feels more painful this time. More contemplative. More real. I meet up with some of my best friends but I don’t want to see anyone else. I want to leave now. I am counting the days til I drive back and I’ve only been here a night.
One week to go.
Seeing my beautiful friends does however slightly make up for being dragged to hipster bars in which men pretend to hit on us in order to jump the queue. No one is interested unless there’s something in it for them. I think I’m being eyed up at one point, but it’s the person behind me they’re looking at.
I attempt to disguise my distaste with the people, the music, the atmosphere with a thin veil; by not standing completely stationary while the shit music I have happily avoided for the past however long booms out.
I am very aware of how single I feel- but being out amongst 10 couples tends to have that effect. I feel alone. I am alone. It’s seems as if the earth is conspiring to make sure of this. Maybe it’s what I need. It’s probably what I need. But it feels like shit.
Old habits in a bag resurface and I invite them in with open arms. They don’t make any of this easier. I’m on a come down before I even make it up.
I see people who hadn’t noticed I’d gone. And people who saw me a few months ago but pretended they didn’t. One of them spends the whole evening regaling me with a repeated story about how she didn’t realise it was me until after I’d walked by. It’s obviously a lie- she ignored me every day of the 8 years we were at school together, why build a bridge now? It’s just out of embarrassment that she feels the need to concoct an explanation, as our social groups have somehow collided now we’re in our 30’s. I smile understandingly as I wait patiently for the 15th rendition of the story in the past hour to be over.
Aside from my close friends, everyone here has a better story. “I’m working for various famous footballer’s lawyers.” “I’m dating a cricketer.” “I was dating someone famous for a while but found out he had a wife and 4 kids” “I’ve got Alex Fergusson’s number on my phone but it’s under a different name to protect his identity”. I struggle to pretend I give a shit.
We go back to a friend of a friend’s house that was being borrowed for a week from one of their other friends. A £400,000 plastic palace; his dad bought it for him. It’s his second home. His sister has an identical one somewhere nearby. I now find myself overwhelmed at any sort of house, but this show-home/mansion is something else. The carpet bounce is infinite. The television is the length of a wall. The light switches and sound system are controlled by a phone. The house also comes with a large squirrel masquerading as a dog. There is a huge balcony with a view of at least 50 expensive sports cars I don’t know the names of. Is that a real Barbara Hepworth in the corner of the room? I feel as if I’ve walked into a bad dream. Or an episode of “Cribs”.
This is someone’s life.
I am sick of repeating my own story. Why have you moved to Devon? What do you DO on the farm? You LIVE in a van? What happened with you and Tom? You volunteer? Wow, how do you afford it?
What was once a mind blowing revolutionary change for me is becoming tedious and dull. This again? I feel as if I’m back at uni and I’ve re-watched the 2nd re-run today of that programme I’ve already seen 8 times this week. I hate the sound of my own voice. I hate the verging-on-patronising glowing reactions from people I barely even knew “wow, I’m so proud of you, you’ve come so far, you look amazing”.
I am a visitor in my old life and I want to run far away.
I don’t want to tell it anymore, I want to live it.