A Walk to the Post Office
I get changed into an appropriate costume, leaving behind the clothes that I feel comfortable in and that make me feel happy. I leave the house and arrange my face into what I believe to be a benevolent and bland expression. My aim is to be as neutral as possible, in the hope that I can pass amongst people largely un-noticed.
I live in a village now and I have not yet grasped the social conventions regarding greeting people. When I moved here, I made some initial enquiries on the subject and was told ‘it’s a village, you say “hello” to everyone’, but you clearly don’t. There’s obviously a sophisticated algorithm involved, but I haven’t grasped it yet.
I have made some progress – tourists and unknown teenagers can safely be ignored and I would obviously greet someone that I genuinely knew, but it’s the ones in the middle that I have problems with. When I first meet someone, I have a habit of using their hairstyle to identify them, which can cause further difficulty.
In the city I would cross the road if I saw anyone in my path, but unfortunately only one side of the road has a pavement, so that’s not possible. I am forced to study people from afar and plan my course of action, looking at the layout of the street and determining if there is any legitimate way that I can avoid them.
I steady my breathing and concentrate on acting ‘normal’. I’m nearly home now, not long to go, I’m just trying to keep it together for a little bit longer.
I distract myself by looking around me, taking in my surroundings, looking at dead leaves on plants, the algae on the drainpipes, tattered remnants of notices and drawing pins on lamp-posts, the pointing between the stonework. I smile at a dog. I observe every detail of this beautiful world.
I look up at the hills and the sweet chords of Joni Mitchell come crashing down from the clouds