Thursday, 1 March 2012

1. Time passes, and a file

Sometimes I think about time passing.

Waking up, there's something we do a lot. Most of us do it every day. We leave reality every night and return every morning without ever thinking about what it means for our eyes to close - that helpless vulnerability. 

I think about all the places I have ever woken up. On a beach in another country, curled in the sand as the sun rises. In a stranger's arms in a dusty bedsit in Wolverhampton. In a sleeping bag on a living room floor, with someone else's toddler poking me in the eye with a Lego brick. In the dog's bed at Amanda's, with the dog and an absinthe headache. On a sofa with Rammstein asleep on my chest. In a hotel room full of pink orchids and grey satin, last night's champagne bottle upside down in the bucket. In a car seat at a service station. In my own bed, hungover and late, on a Tuesday morning. All those places, all those returns to reality.

It's one way to get a sense of the immensity of life.

Waking up is, of course, not the same as awakening. You don't have to be asleep to awaken. You can be in a club at 2.30am, a bottle and a half of cheap white wine sloshing around in your stomach, the speakers pounding out terrifying levels of noise, looking around at all the flushed happy faces around you and thinking: who am I? How on earth did I get here? Who are all these people who are acting like they're my friends?

Do I even like drum and bass?

It's sometimes difficult for me to remember where I end and other people begin. That's part of the reason I'm writing all of this down. I need it to help define myself, for those days when I'm not sure who I am, the days when the emotions and ideas of the people around me bleed into my own.

It's a...file, the file. The file you imagine the shady government guys having, you know, the ones in the dark glasses and the black suits, the ones who know everything. Everything.

Aren't they comforting, those guys? The idea that someone might want to know everything and might be able to find it out. The idea that someone, somewhere, actually has a plan and some measure of control. Much more attractive than the alternative idea; that the people who run the world coast along incompetently, always on the back foot, always responding to whatever the current crisis is. And there is no plan. And no control.

Here are the facts. Here's the file.

Name: Alice Chambers.
Age: 34.
Gender: female.
Sexual orientation: straight.
Eyes: brown.
Hair: brown, mid-length.
Distinguishing marks: tattoo on left bicep, approx 10cm by 3cm, graffiti-style font. Reads Left 4 Dead. Right nipple pierced.
Nationality: British.
Educated to: BA journalism.
Employment status: employed by public relations team of UK regional division of major global finance corporation. Low level. 
Pets: neutered male ginger cat called Rammstein.
Drugs of choice: alcohol, marijuana, MDMA when I can get it (which isn't often).
Aliases: None. 

High IQ. Highly articulate. Underperformer. Liberal politics. Socially anxious, but able to compensate well. At the age of eight, abducted out of a park and raped by a opportunistic paedophile who was never identified and is presumably still at large. 

(Ah yes, Matthew. I wonder if perhaps I should have waited to introduce Matthew. That's the idea, isn't it, the big reveal on round about page 200. The pat explanation for all my numerous personality flaws and antisocial behaviour. In some books it is almost pornographic, no? Sometimes, when I read stories like that, I can't help seeing sly titillation, the slightly-too-detailed description, the vivid accounts of smells and noises and sweat. It's become a bit of a cliche, I feel, this everyday horror given as the sole explanation for everything from multiple personality disorder to serial killing.

But no. Matthew, although he haunts my nightmares and does seem to have a lot to say for himself these days, is not allowed to be half as important in my life as he would like to be. Not a chance, mate. You don't get to be the defining incident of my life. You don't get to shape me. You can fuck right off with that one. All you are is an entry in my file)

Some mental health issues, particularly recurrent anxiety and depression. Also difficulty forming sexual relationships. Not in contact with family. Regularly self-medicates with alcohol. Obsessed with appearance and spends hours in shops and on the internet buying and looking at clothes and shoes. Encyclopaedic knowledge of 70s and 80s slasher movies. Known close associates: Amanda LeBrun, Sally Lloyd and Ginevra Roberts (known as Gin). See separate files.

I can't imagine there would be much more than that. After all, there's not much in my life to interest the shady government guys. Nothing, really.

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