At the pool, trying to regain some of the energy I used to have. It’s peaceful here, doing lengths just beneath the surface. Maybe I can just stay?
No. It’d never work. When you’re in the water, the Black Dog gets off your back – but then curls up into your lungs, like a sackful of wet tar. There’s a cancelled triathlon on the cards, because I can’t face the distance right now.
Of all the troubles of the last six months, the loss of my physicality has been the worst. When you can feel the solid yoke of your shoulders and the flatness of a toned stomach under your clothes, when every step is a stride and the Thames doesn’t seem any more of a barrier for the lack of a handy bridge, you can take anything. But in six months of the gym becoming less and less a feature of the day, my ass has turned to butter – my 99th percentile athleticism probably no higher than the 90th today.
Yet the worst part of all this isn’t that I’ve fallen below the level of any chav scum. The worst part is the sheer, terrifying, crushing nature of Normal Life.
I have become a Normal.
I don’t cook any more: I microwave. I’m even the median age of a British citizen (36.) I. Am. Not. Special.
When my brain finally split in two one Monday in May, and I walked out of my front door and forgot where I lived for 48 hours, sleeping wherever I saw a patch of green for days, it was just some subconscious attempt to not descend into the ranks of the Normals. The attempt failed. Just call me Norm.
If I just stay down here, beneath the surface, I wonder which one of us would die first? The real me, or the Normal within me?
Three months from now I’m either in another city or I’ve gone. Always a few wars going on, and I don’t care too much which one. (I’m the ideal mercenary. I don’t care about living or dying, nor do I care whose side I’m on.)
A Normal. So this is how it ends. Not with a crash or bang, but with the numbness that comes with being Mr Average.
I’d better start applying for jobs in banks.