The text below is not so much the writeup of a nodermeet
as the impressions of someone who is depressed, out of sorts and off balance; a glance inside the head of a person with depression
having a seemingly normal social ineraction. I noded is mostly in order to get a glimpse of how my own head works. It has revelaed interesting things about my memory, for example that it is very "top heavy" and records the events at the beginning of the day best even if those at the end of the day are more interesting or fun. Also it makes unpleasant experiences run together into one big red haze of mortification, whihc is probably a feature of depression; all the bad things expanding, banding together and ganging up on me. Maybe reading this will help or enlighten you in some way. If you don't think it will, well, just ignore it.
If I had to characterise the weekend in a single word, it would be "uncomfortable". Cold, cramped, hungry and with a bursting bladder I arrived after two and ha half hours on a coach to Victoria on Saturday morning. There I had to negotiate handbag, overnight bag and bulky precious cake into the filthy stinking so-called ladies' toilets. It was horrific, more because I was terrified for the cake (some bastard bustling past had already almost knocked it out of my hand and sent it flying earlier on) than because I'm not capable of dealing with less than ideal sanitary conditions.
Met Nicholas on my way back to our meeting point - he was of course early and looking around for me to make sure he got the directions right. Bless him. He does add a layer of discomfort, though, by being so beatifically silent and still that any normal human being trying to carry on a reasonably flowing stream of conversation is made to feel like a prattling simpleton. OK, maybe not any, or normal, human being. Me. I, myself, moi feel like a malfunctioning dictaphone when I'm alone with him. A perceptible drop in self esteem that was not helped by the fact that I was eating a hasty sandwich standing up in a coach station like some sort of backpacking student. Ugh.
Ken, Pascal and - and this is just something else to feel discomfited by - Ken's friend, who is very nice and very funny and whose name I have completely and utterly forgotten. I deserve to be flogged. At least I got to unload my burden - dumped everything but my handbag on the boys and began to advance at a stubbornly slow pace towards the tube. The conversation was a bit stilted and strained, as it will be when a bunch of people who barely know each other are getting ready to spend the whole day together. Hopefully I wasn't the only one who was embarrassed at this stage. Maybe I even managed not to show that I was - who knows. But my inner mouse was definitely looking for a snug little mousehole to hide in.
What with being a little deaf an' all, conversation tube-side is rarely a pleasure. Still, mustn't grumble - Ken gave me money for my ticket (and I never even bought him a drink later, I'm such a senile stinker), the other chaps carried my luggage, and by and large the trains were warm and had seats. And so to Hampstead, where my levels of discomfort, which had just begun to think about subsiding, received a material boost when Ken and Nicholas took us three times around the Heath trying to find this damned pub. I don't care how much they insist they knew where they were going, we were lost, and we walked too damn far! Huffing, puffing and cold we washed up at the pub where a welcoming crowd of people milling about outside promptly turned its back and went inside.
Greeting were confused and sporadic. I'm sure I caused untold offence by not saying hello to people I should have known. Not having any cash, I couldn't even buy myself a drink, and had to exploit David's shame at having completely forgotten who I was. He was going round getting everyone to record their felicitations to the bride and groom on video, but didn't bother with me.
I felt dreadful.
Out of place, out of breath, out of sorts. I had nothing to say to anyone, and that's an affliction that stayed with me throughout the afternoon. My physical needs were also somehow destined to go unfulfilled. Before I could finish my drink or rest sufficiently from my travels, the call went out for the Tumulus. Christ. What a miserable treck that was. I'm just going to skip over that one.
On the tumulus, I was the only one who chose to stand visibly apart from the circle. Fucking fantastic. As if I wasn't feeling like enough of an odd fish already. I decided to cover for my embarrassement by pretending to be busy and taking lots of photos with Kevin's camera, which had been entrusted to me earlier. Hah. Shouldn't have bothered - of course they didn't come out. I'm just lucky that way. And so back to the pub.
On the way down the hill Ella asked me to give a Hebrew
blessing to the bride and groom with her after lunch.
I was mortified - so of course I said yes.
As a sop to my cold and aching feet I decided to settle myself immediately upon arrival in a comfy armchair and not move. No such luck. With Rich not there there was no-one to bring me drinks or keep me company while everyone else was milling about. Me and my top-notch social skill of course gravitated to the one corner of the room nobody wanted to sit in - or maybe it was just me they didn't want to sit next to me. So I went and got a drink and a pizza, but before I could enjoy either it was time to be all Jewish and cut the cake and give it to people and pose for photos and deliver the pizza to Catherine and something else I don't even remember all the things I said or did but I just wanted to sit down and be quiet and hide and not be looked at or talked at or noticed.
Why do I always end up in the centre of attention? Other people with low self esteem
at least have the sense to be shy and retiring. Me, oh no. I will mouth off with great spirit
while all the while my inner critic is lashing me mercilessly with its little cat o' nine tails.
OK. So it didn't last for ever. I made good my escape back to my lonely corner and after a while Katie came and chatted to me, which was a pleasure and a relief. My own company wasn't working out as well as I had hoped anyway, whereas hers is always quality. More discomfitted and grieved than the situation merited, no doubt, I had to turn down her and snarl's invitation to eat sushi with them - and then, after only a few awkward farewells and ignored gestures of friendliness from me, it was time to go to Fulham.
There's this to be said for Catherine - among many other things - it's goddamn difficult to feel uncomfortable around her. You'd need to make a serious effort, and I was flagging - even my inner booing audience was quieting down. So we had a companionable but long and exhausting ride to Fulham, where we did some shopping and bought dinner. I was faint with hunger, not having managed to partake of my pizza earlier, and so it was not a moment too soon we arrived in a pleasantly warm kitchen which already smelled of wholesome cooking. Dinner was excellent, if marred by the same sense of overarching awkwardness due to a flatmate situation on which I will not elaborate in deference to Catherine's privacy. Just as I was beginning to enjoy myself and look forward to dessert and a coffee, we noticed the time and set off on a frantic speed-dressing session in order to at least catch last orders in the pub. Then we hauled off to try and navigate the Circle Line-less underground to Holborn.
Frankly, by the time we got there I was noticing very little. I had spent most of the day either rushing frantically or in any event moving from place to place, person to person, and through sheer exhaustion was reaching that stage where I really didn't give a toss anymore. There were people. Some of them were happy to see me, which was nice. Most of them didn't care one way or the other. I had a nice conversation about drugs with snarl and Lastwords and then I talked to Katie for a while and then it was closing time and some of us went to another pub. Then we went home. I sang. We took the bus. The End.