Lonely in London
Staccato and senseless, thoughts pumped through her mind, pulsing against each other and vying for a bubble of space into which they could trickle and swell to their full potential. Pressing her soles onto the pavement, she juggled her mental reigns, whipping back at each sharply hopeless thought with desperate logic. This year had slowly eroded her; she had never felt so internally fragile. This fragility was powerful and intense; it felt like all the delicate layers she had crafted into a personality, into herself, were slipping away and leaving bare a crumbled, clumsy and confused core.
The monotony of recent months, dimly peppered with pleasant and forgettable encounters, had left her swimming in herself. Life as she experienced it had severed gradually but definitively into two levels: she operated compliantly at life’s frequency, engaging with deadlines, smiling with friends and acquaintances, and ticking off to do lists; yet within herself, she was sliding into the lower frequency, swaddled in the depths of her fears, constantly coaxing her thoughts and emotions into safer territories, and wondering if everybody experienced life in this way.
She tried hard to engineer the warmth of intimacy with herself, well aware that its harsher partner, loneliness, was never far away. She was internally alert, self-aware, and often suspicious in a way she did not sense in others. She scrutinised her internal assumptions, inconsistent aspects of her character and her position within the everyday contexts she found herself: classrooms, cafes, friends’ kitchens.
She slyly studied the interactions of friends or partners, wondering which facets of themselves they chose to unveil, and which they kept hidden. She questioned how the fragile confusion of their feelings navigated the deep and awkward wells of judgement straddling their realities. Her caution, she felt, was what estranged her from others, from her peers. She lacked the happy-go-lucky-ness, coolness and easiness expected of a twenty-something embarking on adult life in a new city.
Pressing the light, she waited. The light flashed and she crossed.
Anonymous bustle and heady ambition radiated from inner-city footsteps. Melancholy and inevitability oozed indifferently from the Thames’ discreet laps and sways. She absorbed it, she breathed it, and she rested into the thorny callings of her head and heart.