A half lifeIt’s 2020. I’m 37. I’m living quietly and alone in a loud urban setting surrounded by strangers. Coronavirus restrictions have been easing off for around a month now but the following months seem uncertain. I’m working because I’ve started eating into my final savings pot. Its effect on my ability to work on my own project has been immediate and severe. I’m now lost in the evenings after I’ve finished my paid work for the day because I have no desire to work for free, and I can’t so easily switch to something else.
I’m looking down at the street. 12 floors below. The people milling about. The buses whirling along. The trams screeching around the curve. I’m thankful for the cloud for it provides respite from the heat of the sun. I feel stress from the noise of excruciatingly loud motorbikes. It’s fleeting but frequent. I look at the dull grey BT Delta Point building which has now been converted into a residential block with cheap flats, and think, “at least they get to look at my building”, which is infinitely kinder on the eye.
I’m sitting in the dark. The light has faded and I haven’t felt the need to artificially illuminate my space. There’s a calmness in the post-sunset hues. The window is open and the traffic is incessant, ensuring that “a calmness” can never quite reach the calm, and I can never quite find the peace. The glow of the iPad is joined by the red dot of the TV and the blinking LEDs of the monitors on the desk. The screens themselves sitting in idle blackness, currently with nothing to offer.
I wonder what I’m offering. And to whom. The world is vast and I’ve never quite given enough, of me, to it, to them. A half life is gone, and the remainder slips.
I’m small but my sofa is smaller. I’m curled up in an effort to fit. I push at the arms with my feet as if they’ll slide and produce more room. I’d like more room. Not much, just enough to better delineate the spaces in which I exist. Because organised boxes settle my soul. And boxes are containers and containers conceal the mess within. But still, I think about growth and I think about a bigger world and I think about the constraints that mainly exist inside.
And all the boys I ever slept with. All the boys on all the apps who’ll never speak, let alone meet. All the connections that go unmade and all the love I have retuned. All the chances to settle and all the partnerships I’ve seen in succession. All the while I’ve been content to move, and pleased to see the paths they took. I don’t regret and I don’t rejudge, I don’t forget and I don’t begrudge. I just find myself here, between lost and found, and before more years roll away.
The sirens are waling outside. Responding to something requiring a response. The buses and trams are nearly empty now, and the gentle breeze is cooling the room. The night is here, as night follows day. It’s safe to assume another day will follow. I’ll struggle to get out of bed as I have all summer, then I’ll force myself to exercise and watch some news before thinking about engaging the brain. I’ll largely focus, leaving a subprocess on the lookout for distraction, always maintaining a hopeful line to a future place. For some, it’s entertainment. But I’m looking for signs of a better world.