A Return to A New Normal

The following is another piece of prose, which I do occasionally on this blog to break the admittedly demanding writing of in-depth research pieces. It describes my experiences commuting to work for the first time in about six months, and learning to adjust to the new environment surrounding me.

Just as the clock ticks as a wave sacrifices itself against a shore, so too must the drudgery of my day to day desolation eventually end. A loneliness which consumed our lives loosens its grasp, as the world wearily resumes. The months spent collapsing my memories into the mercurial qualities of a ill-remembered existence feels alien. I counted the days yet lost track, I measured the months yet they felt meaningless.

Before returning to a relieving routine, I remember reading about relativity. The theory that remarks upon the interpretation of time relative to your own frame of refrerance. So to did my perception of each day become malleable during those unmoving months- its seemingly motioning march traduced to the pernicious pang of never needing to know the time.

So, as a forgotten amount of days passed and the second hand tempted the minute hand, the world changed. I – and no doubt many more – emerged into the daunting familiarity of a ‘new normal’. Everything’s reassuringly remembered, yet behind the traversing trains and the once more sprawling streets, theres an unusual undertow. Just as a mask obscures the expressions which portray vivid emotion, so the world presents a facade of normalcy. Still, even commuting you feel the twinge of foreboding, and the rush of beauty – both wrought from an aftermath of isolation, which deals in both fear and wonderment.

Even the arcane mundanity of the train platform feels illusionary, when laid against the listless static of the last few months. A mask envelops my mouth and acts as a relentless reminder: the world you’ve stepped into is not the same. We’re still in transition and other side remains uncertain. Even so I can’t help smile at this newfound narrative, that I’m travelling to a world at work, even if the fundamentals which we once welcomed are altered, definitely for toady, likely for a while.

Naturally, my mind flickers to everything that hasn’t changed. Regardless of the directional dictations lacing thier way through the scrambled streets, its easy to simply observe the routines of commuters, the chatter of colleagues and acquaintances as they themselves become cradled in a the arms of a new course. One that they recognize as uprooted, even if thier relationships and memories feel fundamentally familiar.

So you see, each sight and sensation is a scattered fragment, or fossil of a system which likes to give the impression of sanity, even when circumstances prove severe and sordid. The sound of capracious activity which spills from the traders saluting a new day of business, the pacing of shoes upon a stone ground each in different succession to the other, even the whistling rush of wind through the trees. All these create a censorious atmosphere which gives the impression of normality, irrespective of reality.

Coincidentally, I seem to blend into that impression. Remember everything I’ve written about masking? The stimming, the supposed strangeness which can show through my movements and emotions. That’s shrouded, if you will behind a mask of normality. Irrespective of the strain that exerts, I welcome the reliability of the routine, the contemplation of the commute, and the cathartic nature of communication. Simplicity, it appears, is not for me or these times. Just as I occasionally desire the secrecy of seclusion, so I need the frenzy of the city streets and the immersion of a sensory environment. Call that confusing, the contradiction is akin to perfectly holding a pendulum in perpetual motion – requiring great skill, and somehow still never being truly satisfied.

I transcribe these thoughts alone in an empty office. The once thriving lifeblood of society exists outside, and is one I can hear from the streets yet has slowed to a smoldering inside, like a machine moving once more after an undisturbed slumber. Its a curious question. Am I wrongly expecting a return to routine? Is my championing of company too much too expect in a chaos where calls for community were crumbling long before the malignant illness lashed us into lock and key. I know thats the anxiousness talking though – the snake that bites at you in sinister uncertainty, surrendering you to the darkest side of your thoughts. Silently and steadily, we resolve to step forward.

There are flickers of positivity, as there are of fear. On the Saturday before I write this, I saw friends for the first time in months. And, in those moments the mechanics of our morose mundanity seemed to cease – like the first time I saw more of my family, we were seizing a fleeting freedom from a fall into an abyss that many would have formerly thought fictional.

‘We’ll be looking back in ten years saying ‘remember the pandemic’ one of my friends contemplated, creating an air of optimism by placating this stage in life with another. Poignantly, as I pointed out in my first piece of prose, realising the temporarily of our situation seeks to satiate a desire to see past the disease. Past the silence and into a new light that transcends a ‘return to normality’ in favour of ‘reinvention’….

Or rethinking, I thought, realising how much I’ve had to do that in the time elapsed. Reminding me of the value of my relationships. Tinkering with the remnants of a routine and seeking to shape them into something substantial, and finally recognising everything I regretfully take for granted

Patiently, this era will end and we’ll remodel and rethink. Even so, that will still be temporary – a blip if you will on an incomparable past and indefinable future. We will all learn to survive to reshape as I myself must continue to do, embracing my autism, with both my failings and ablilites, letting myself become influenced yet never impeded.

A Day of Escape

Something slightly different today. The following is a piece of prose. This will perhaps form a series of creative writing pieces based off of real life happenings, experiences and perceptions. The intention of them is to allow me to express myself, and so you can gain an understanding of my autistic experience, and the way I see the world. I hope that reading brings you some form of comfort.

Our days are mostly the same now…

The static chaos of city life faded into the dull monotony of dusty desks and relentless routines. Clocks on which our lives hinge measure the morbidity of our moribund malcontent, as we settle for patience in waiting out the rapturous war. Wrapped in blankets we wait to return to the relenting world, while reading knowledge which speaks of an innermost revelation…there can be no return.

Something stirs. A disruption in the quiet cadence of these fretful days gives way to noise! music! difference like daylight spilling from turgid clouds which swoop and coil around a strangled sun. The infection slows. Our tedious trap subsides as our tapestry of sacrifices unravels. We can finally see each other again!

Reunions are respite. Moments robbed from days spent preoccupied remembering memories. Times when even the silent emptiness of ‘nothing to do’ feels relished by the camaraderie of company. In that moment with my dad and sisters, the monotony ceases, the dull throbbing in my head brought on by the exhaustion of cycles subsides. The waiting of the world feels closer to resolve, irrespective of the flame which set our lives alight.

Oddly, this evening would be like any other. We chat, we eat, we watch a musical about a figure in another war, and question how new worlds arise from destructive beginnings. Only the distance and separation which has severed so many, and the breaking of that bargain grants a sense of relief to those mundanities. Even so, theres a relinquishing.

Our decision the next day furthers that sense of mental and tangible release. We left Newport, any particular destination we may have had unnamed and unbound. We didn’t care where we ended – as long as that was somewhere else. Our guilelessness was emancipatory, with a choice of location having been restricted to enclosed spaces, the escape was not merely physical yet met with a collapse in the tantalizing tyranny of degrading routines, and infantilising familiarity.

We first came to an Abby in Neath, its once splendorous walls ravaged during the Welsh Uprisings and later by Henry VIII. The courtyards and ruins that remain felt almost ethereal, our own tenuousness as a society harrowingly demonstrated, not just through the past six months, yet through the multiple walls which we perilously scale in a time worn quest to reach the sky.

Sitting amongst the wreckage I noted how I’ve learnt not to take anything for granted, ‘I feel a lot of people are like that’ echoed my dad – only realising the historical pertinence of those words after we’d said them. ‘I wanted to live through history, yet not like this‘ my sister remarked in her typically acerbic style. We left with the resonance of turgid histories and the chaotic present ringing in our ears.

Soon after, we came to Gower peninsula. Land there stumbles into mountainous terrain, into an vast beach. One mountain – the ‘snakes head’ – reaches out into the sea, from which the last rays of daylight can be witnessed vibrantly reflected from the dazzlingly beautiful, journeying expanse of blue.

Walk further into where the sea has subsided and you tread between tapestries of shells, deceptively deep pools of water which threaten to subdue and pull you beneath the gentle sand, and -terrifyingly – a massive, shored jellyfish. Within a short time I’m amongst the waves of the sea – everything you hear about the relieving quality of being immersed in water is true. Astronauts who have been isolated for months, training for space travel have described thier desire to be submerged and feel the heightened stimulation which that creates.

With being in the water come battles with the waves, which today cascade and cast themselves against the shore ravenously. They begin by guarding the sea from my trespasses, each step I take repelled by a lofty swell and surge of froth. As a wade into the depths I find myself taunting the tide, each lofty oscillation throwing up a new challenge – not dissimilar to the ones that have met my own life lately, born of a vast and neverending force of nature. Nevertheless, each turret precariously ridden becomes a little victory. More than once, a monstrous billow of treacherous water rears and swallows me whole – in my mind threatening to keep me there, as the capricious sandstorm kicked up beneath my feet and the shifting water above, strikes a gratuitous yet no less terrifying fear of drowning into my psyche. Once I’d waded from the volatile ocean – and indeed the hazy metaphors about the carnivorous qualities of the wavelets, I was left with a cold exhaustion yet unimpeachable determination.

As we wind our way back through darkened streets and vacant villages we pass empty pubs and restaurants. Places where reveling would subside, sitting vacant or else inhabited only by those who may soon be serving again, yet not in the same way. We realise that the world which we are inhabiting is aversely twisted beyond that which we knew twelve, six, even three months ago and that our day of escape was not meant to hide from that but to seek solace amongst the pandemonium.

As I write these words, I’m still worn out, either from the day itself or the multitude of emptier days which came before. I welcome that feeling. That sensation shows I’ve been somewhere, and not squandered my time in doing so. I’m led to think upon the sensory stimulants which filled and breathed life and excitement into me. I’m contemplating on thier seemingly endless journey, and the ways in which they reflect the ceaseless expedition of continuance.

Somewhere, a clock ticks…

A ruined relic crumbles little by little..

A turgid wave, forms, swells, crashes onto a dusty shore…and dies.