The bus shudders painfully through congested central Edinburgh and spits my reluctant self back out into the nail biting cold where my numerous layers will never be enough. Bones knock together seeking out fat cells to crawl beneath to keep warm. I should have stayed home.
Time drags itself infinitesimally across the cheap linoleum tiles. Squeak squeak. Tick tock. Crawled out of bed at one, exhausted and done with it all by half past two. I feel my lips move and stretch, vibrations climbing up my oesophagus and making those familiar sounds. Words. I scrunch up my face a lot. It's a nervous habit of mine: make a funny face, people laugh, lighten the mood, take the focus off my obvious lack of interest in it all. I go cross eyed. If the wind changes my face will stay like that. I know, I know. We all love a good cliché.
They eat and talk. That is what they do. I like the idea of dissociating myself from all the human beings I know. Sometimes I don't eat and sometimes I don't talk. But I'm always thinking about eating and talking at the times when I refuse to engage in either. Then there are the times when I try. I really do try. I buy a bit of whatever everyone else is having or pick at somebody else's leftovers if I'm low on cash. And I try to take an interest in whatever the topic of conversation is, even when it's drunken nights out that happened at the houses of people I don't know. I don't offer my own stories of drunken nights out because I am painfully aware of how bored I feel by the whole retelling experience when I am not the one doing the retelling. I'd hate to bore other people. I do try though. I can convince them of nearly anything. I'm having fun, really, I hate to be the one to leave early except I need to revise need to go to the gym need to go visit my grandmother need to meet another friend got a pile of homework got to walk the dog got to get some rest feeling a little bit off feeling a little bit sick feeling hung over still stoned from yesterday ate some stale curry oh my life is just full of all these small inconveniences that mean I can't stay here because I simply have to be there. And where is there, you might wonder. There usually constitutes an amalgamation of fictitious places all plonked oh so conveniently right in my own living room. I can read, write, think, sit and do fuck all. And I don't feel the need to be around other people. The thing is, right, if I'm on my own I can justify my sadness. I can put it down to loneliness. I can sit and feel right sorry for myself. Poor little me, nobody to hang out with, miserable little knobbly kneed creature all alone with her books and her words and her revolting sense of achievement every time somebody compliments her on her apathetic attitude to all aspects of life.
But when I'm with them I can't blame it on my aloneness. I have to face up to the fact that I am sad discontent lonely isolated upset estranged afraid irritated. Too loud and too quiet all at once. Too big and too small. Overpoweringly, though, just disinterested. When you've spent your childhood trying to be this mini adult, this fully-formed-in-the-womb, articulated, well mannered china doll-esque thing in the hope that it could maybe just be your ticket out of here, you're done with adulthood by the time you're old enough to go to parties and smoke and drink and do all the "grown-uppy things."
They don't see that though. I used to ache for somebody to tell things to. All I wanted was a friend of my very own. None of the people I spent time with were good enough because they were never interested in any of the things I was. I want to talk about books and politics, about fears, ambitions. I want to flick through travel magazines and plot out routes on interrailing websites. I want somebody I can sit with, one of us at either end of the bed, each reading separately but aware of the other's presence. I want somebody I can be with where we do things that don't involve eating or talking sometimes.
Time is rigid in the way it moves, always the same, impenetrable pace, unfaltering. Slowly. I stop smiling outwardly as soon as I am out of their sight. I smile internally instead, hating myself, hating hating hating solitude, but needing it all the same.