Back in March I wrote about social anxieties and how awesome my little sister is. Things aren’t any better since then; in fact, they’re probably worse. But the point is, I’m trying. I’m likely doomed to fail regardless, but if I don’t try to get up on Thursday morning, get dressed – in something that I feel both expresses me and doesn’t draw attention (caring about what you wear isn’t just for girls, fact) – leave the house through the garden door, checking that nobody is around and that my music is turned up loud with one if my coping songs playing so that I can’t hear the taxi driver talking to my brother as we get into the car, I will never try anything.
Immediately I feel rude: I’m ignoring the driver completely, in the same way I do when sitting in a restaurant when the waiter or waitress sidles over. It’s rude and I’m ashamed of it, worried as to what they think of me, but I cannot interact with them. I stare at my phone and let my brother talk for me, order for me. He does everything for me. Then of course I think they’re judging me and it makes me retreat even more.
But I’m still in the taxi, still headed for London. We’ll spend the day there, my brother shielding me from the crowds, the stares that I attract for reasons I’ll never know, but have come to the conclusion that I must be a Changeling or something similar. People always look, always watch. About half of it is in my head; the rest, not so much.
On the Tube I never sit down unless the carriage is fairly empty despite the fact that I will be taking pain medication all day to help cope with the daily pain of a chronic illness. Standing hurts, but I cannot sit down. Sitting requires far too much movement surrounded by all these strange people and it’s impossible. I stand and stare down a my Kindle screen. It’s my safety net: books.
It’s why I’m here in the first place. Books are kind of my world.
So, I’ll go to Chinatown and spend the day there, waiting for the signing at 6pm. I’m glad, because the day in the one place I feel I can open up just a crack, a tiny sliver, and relax, will likely make the difference between my sitting in a coffee shop whilst my brother attends the signing, or whether I’ll actually make it inside.
I know categorically I cannot get my own book signed; not a chance. It’s horrible and I’m missing out and it sucks, but that’s just how it is. Hell, it’ll be unprecedented if I step one foot in the building at all.
I’m going to need my music to drown out the sound of everyone else. Earbuds are more subtle, but I’ll still look rude. That again. I’m damned if I do, damned if I don’t. Ultimately, when I’m outside of the house, my first thought has to be to protect myself, and music does that. Better than standing there with my eyes closed, mildly stimming rubbing my hands against my jeans and drawing even more attention.
I think the lesser evil is my earbuds and loud kpop. Or Breaking Benjamin, if the mood takes.
But what I can do is get on a train in the first place, and try. It’s a damn sight farther than I’d get by just bailing. Again.
In an ideal world I would have a blast in Chinatown, strut (well, maybe not strut, exactly…) to FP after having a early dinner somewhere and do what normal people do: talk, have fun, mingle, go get their own damn books signed and tell the author how awesome she is all by themselves, instead of always acting through someone else. Living life through a thick glass screen.
In reality, I’ll be glad I have my brother, who is a goddamn saint.
On the bright side, I know precisely what I’ll be reading on the way home.