I have been pondering what to write for the Cyrenians blog for some time now. Like many people, it is in my thoughts where I spend most of my time; an existential hallucination, a land in which I am a stranger.
I was corrected earlier in the year by my sister that I am 42 years old, and not 40; I have been trying to talk about my life and reconnect with the people, for whom so many are staple norms, but we are strangers connected by a past I have no memory of – or at least, the memories are few and mysterious, encountered like flaking tempura frescos of another world hung in a gallery.
My rescue from the worst of homelessness came a number of years ago, and whilst I am indoors and housed in the accoutrements of civilian life, inside a different life continues turning like a momentous flywheel once hooked to a mill no longer there.
It is a feral life which I don’t know what to do with; a strange undertow set like a dream in waking, something I keep hidden as it unnerves people, it unsettles the social rubric. So I write to contain the cavernous reflections, the homelessness which lives on; the instincts under my dressage.
This writing shares the longness of the nights like seas held in the bowels of the earth over which I row never quite sure if I am damned. In this I am alone and that aloneness is the best expression I have found of homelessness.
Forever searching these long insomnias I become aware of the natural fear of an animal which has lost its memory; its terror of identity as it scrambles to keep what mind it has from falling away. This is the place before and after dementia; the metaphysical taboo which pulls the comfort from conversations like a chill fox cry in a darkened wood.
No, our species has not learned to talk of what it is like losing our minds for the fear of a spectre we ward against with totems of sculpt optimism. As I struggle in this world of increasing speed, when civilisation appears a glassy reflection on the surface of rushing waters I find myself wandering the places I lived most wholly in.
The soulless supermarket isles, the lumbering bus and train stations, libraries and cemeteries; the universities, the back and side streets, the wilderness. The no-places where one face blends with another, where you don’t have to talk to anyone as speech function has submerged under hesitancy and incertitude.
But now I have a room to retreat to where I can collect my self when the ghosts have risen and the world rages. Here, where I survived on cheap cancerous alcohol and what drugs I could muster to smother it all I would smash and scuttle my boat.
Many years on as I tread these roads I have a lamp to carry in the fog – a single certainty that some people do care. And in the face of insurmountable odds, despite them not being there, I can hear their words and feel their actions, a counterpoint to the inferno. Thank you for your company Cyrenians, wherever you are.
Alex Dunedin, 26th December 2018