Blog: Navigating the Now - Re-Entering by Christoforos Pavlakis

13 July 2021

 Photo by Christoforos Pavlakis, unused calendar since March 2020
Photo by Christoforos Pavlakis, unused calendar since March 2020

I've slept more than five hundred times on this bed. Not counting the naps. And no one has ever come to check the state of the mattress. I guess I've never really complained. I've spent as much time between these four walls as everywhere else during the first half of my life. Spent. That's all time does here. Slowly. People too. Noiselessly.

Since March 2020, I endured fifteen months home-bound, above all, fifteen months of solitude. And believe me, time seems very long when it's not shared. Of course, I had contact with some of my neighbors and friends, but most of them were just stopping through and were not very talkative. In pandemic times, feelings swallowed themselves before being perceived and words quickly fell into line. The librarian neighbour who rents the flat one floor higher, was nice to me, but our chats were stopped the day his wife got really ill and was admitted into hospital.

closure notice

My immediate family is globally dispersed and I have no other way to catch up than Zeeting (meeting on Zoom). What could I confide to them? My semblance of a life, my nothingness, my boredom? You don't speak about such things. So, instead of talking about my slender hopes, I used to listen: one of my mum’s cats was run over in front of his house, she left flowers on my father's grave, she adopted a new cat, but doesn't dare give it a name for fear of losing it, a cancer is growing in the neighbor's throat, ivy is spreading around the house and nobody is there to trim it... None of this really interests me. But I drink up her words, taking in everything that can help pass the time. Every second is a victory. Against what? One essential difference separates ‘free people’ from the rest: while the former dream of time slowing down, the latter desire its acceleration. Besides mom, I did not keep close contact with the rest of family.

My flat has been my only horizon. Thirty eight square meters with a narrow view onto the yard, a bed, a table, a chair, a shelf, a toilet, a sink, a mirror and a television. While the mirror is the best way to observe the passing of time, the TV has become the most comfortable way to endure its passing; I watched it quite a bit the first few months, when the passing of time facing me seemed insurmountable, but I gradually lost interest. Those people  consuming without concern for the future or for me, complaining of everything and nothing, oblivious to their fortune and happiness - this profoundly irritated me. Whether they are real or fiction doesn't change much. I was suffocated by those cities, those bodies, those seas that I could neither touch nor feel. Do the program creators consider all the other ‘misfits’, like myself, who watch them?

In my absence, so many things must have happened in the world, as I spent every day watching the same square of sky, blue, now gray, often black. I know nothing of the world that awaits me and when re-entering it, I would be a poor contender on "Who wants to be a millionaire". In all categories. What was the quiz-master's name? Mom, who watched it every day, liked him. I'll ask her. Maybe one day we'll watch it together.

It is difficult to be interested in a world that excludes you as a neuro-atypical person. As soon as I am part of it again I will have to adapt. And fast. Is it ever possible to catch up?

Whilst home bound, nobody can stop me from dreaming. It's my ultimate freedom. So I shut my eyes. And I wait for the day of freedom to come.

The strangest part of a long wait is that once it's over, you sort of forget how long it lasted.

My freedom starts on the other side of the door. But where does it stop? The past year, traveling mainly through books has satisfied my needs. I didn't really have any choice. Soon, if I wish myself, I'll be able to buy a plane ticket to any destination and fly away. Far. This simply possibility moves me.

I day-dream about this: As for the first sun-rays reach my bedroom, sleep overwhelms me. I am ready. I didn't sleep much the night before and I need some time to understand what is happening. I don't have many things. I only need a few minutes to stuff them into a rucksack; After so long, I am suddenly struck with the anxiety of having to wait a couple of minutes. I open the window and light a cigarette. The sun is now above the building, while a fly passes before me. My gaze follows its flight. Whilst holding my rucksack, I unlock the door and all I have to do is push. On the other side, life does not wait.