The first Sunday of the new year. Why do we call it the “new” year? Why not just the year?
A cloud of irritability is settling in. It is still bitterly cold outside, with a dark gery sky and wet streets. Yesterday morning I cycled around the west end. I’ve been intending to do this for some time, since March last year, in fact, but I was underwhelmed, unmoved. Roads were empty, people sparse, but I felt nothing for the place. Familiar sites, sights, locations, buildings, but no emotions. The memories of time spent there are numb, surpressed. It felt irrelevant, like looking at a photograph of people I no longer see. A reference point, that’s all. My main reason for knowing the place, and having spent so many years there is work, and I feel like I’ve drifted away from that. The people still exist, distantly, names on screens, like soap opera characters, lives intertwined through time, circumstances, situations. The longer this goes on the more distanced I feel. When we are back I wonder if enthusiasm and sense of belonging will return. I think the problem is that the job, the business, the people had been there solidly, reliably, for as long as I can remember, until March last year, when suddenly nothing was certain. I’m assured that it all will return, but that talk is abstract, there is nothing definite or tangible to grasp. I no longer have trust in any of it. I know it won’t be the same, people seem to enjoy saying that, as though they carry some Nostradamus-like authority and wisdom. (They are always the people that don’t, of course). I don’t know if I want it to be the same. I suppose I don’t. I’m different now. I can see myself feeling withdrawn and disinterested. I’ve thought about being back so many times but I can’t allow myself to look forward to it with any feeling of certainty or comfort. It all fell apart so spectacularly, and so could do again. I have to find other emblems of stability to lean on now, new opportunities, new outlooks, a new life.
I’ve become sensitive to sounds from the other flats now. I never used to be bothered by muffled ambient sound, it is quite a normal experience. Total silence is impossible to achieve anyway. I have long suspected I have something called hyperacusis, which is a heightened sensitivity to certain everyday sounds. I certainly find too many people speaking at once impossible. The pitch reaches a certain level and suddenly it is just noise. I can’t function. Thought processes are suspended. I think now the absence of contact with people leads to distress when I hear sounds of other peoples’ lives. I don’t have radio or podcasts on in my flat apart from when showering now. It is a way of using background sound to punctuate phases of the day. Sound stops when it is time to be productive, after breakfast and once the day has aired, I then formulate a plan for the day, which I then do or don’t follow. Much of the day now has silence which helps with concentration but can highlight the loneliness. I wrote something a while ago likening the estate to the walled city of Kowloon. I’d actually prefer to be there right now, small spaces are fine, I don’t need much, large rooms just feel like showing off, western middle class status and greed. At least there would be other people.
The Prime Minister is addressing us this evening. I’d better buy some wine.