I sat on a wall waiting. “The king is coming!” somebody said. It doesn’t matter that he died 530 years ago and the coffin just contains some very old bones. Being part of a major event is quite exciting if you don’t do much. I don’t mind being part of a huge crowd if I am not noticeable and can blend in. The camera is as usual used as a device to hide behind, a raison d’être in much the same way as someone using their mobile phone when in a café. It was a strange week starting with a parade on Sunday, the reinterment of the body on Thursday and then fireworks on the Friday evening. Normally the travel would put me off going to such things but only being a 10 minute walk meant that it was easy for once. The atmosphere was good at all times even in the afternoon. People from all over the world including many Americans were just milling around looking happy. This in my own city and in a place I was well used to. In fact as my elderly mother passed ever closer to eternity I had often took solace in the cathedral, unnoticed and unknown, often the only person in there in the days before it would be the final resting place to a long lost king.
I wanted to queue to see the coffin, well I have nothing better to do and it’s not much different form walking down the canal for 4 hours yet again to pass time. The reason I did not was my SA and being alone. Standing in a long queue for 2-4 hours next to the same people would be too awkward. They might try witty banter with me and I would feel exposed as a weird loner with no social skills and no life with nothing interesting to talk about. Most of them for instance were in groups with friends and family. I heard on the local radio how so many strangers had made new friends and chatted away together like best mates as they waited. Of course being eternally awkward I would not do this. A nice volunteer lady was chatting to people on the day of the re interment and asked me about my camera. I tried to answer her but that oh so familiar awkwardness awakened and I almost sighed and walked off. It’s the reaction on others faces that hurts so much when they realise that you are not quite normal but they still try and be polite although at the same time try to move away. Having no control of my voice, facial expressions and body language is so frustrating. Once my anxiety comes alive it’s unstoppable and the paranoia starts to eat away at my confidence in a relentless attack of self doubt. It might as well be one of those dreams where you imagine everyone pointing and laughing at you and you just want to run away. I could have for instance easily have talked to the women who led the search for the king as she was just talking to the crowd in front of me after a TV interview but after that event the day before my awkwardness was still on high alert so despite a deep love of history and actually wanting to say something to her, I left.
Friday night was different as there were fireworks and 8000 fire bowls decorating the city centre. I had relaxed in a what the hell type of way by this time so had little anxiety but being all alone when most people are in groups is still somewhat off-putting and I wished I had my one true friend with me. I look a lot at meetup UK now but always put myself off with memories of so many things that can and did go wrong in the past. The SA paradox resurfaces again. You are supposed to get better by meeting new people but meeting people makes you more SA and often makes you feel disliked so you never recover in the first place. It also totally ignores the effects of depression which makes any social activity much harder. I thought I saw a girl I used to know from work, bizarrely the one that once called me a zombie and hard work to talk to. She was in group of people and I later found her on a local meet up group that attended the event. She was right of course, mentally ill people often come across as zombies and hard work, now with added depression it’s the main reason I don’t go to any meet up groups. Despite chronic loneliness, in reality people demand cheerfulness from strangers at such meets when I have none left.