A chapter in my life has not just closed. It is more as thought the pen ran out for another page. I have left the Blind House – supported housing for the visually impaired and like Alice returned down the rabbit hole of this intricate city. Rumour has it I have been banned when I intend to work with them in helping others. I crept away with no announcements, to swirl into back into London waiting for me. Real London. The move was a mild psychosis of seven days ripping tape and hunting for cardboard.
But I am away from a housing scheme that stripped my health and esteem and only looking back, only five days in, don’t recognise the person I was there. It was institutionalised so that disability was not a matter of needing new ways to do the things and reknow, relearn myself but a sedentary swith off of life force. Sound extreme? Tell me a housing estate where, in your thirties, people turn up unannounced at your doorstep with clipboards and passive smiles insisting you have to tell them everything from your toilet troubles to what you spent on food that week.
In a world of blind pilots, blind ballerinas I became mind fogged in a vortex of hanging around for a smoke (I don’t smoke) and feeling as though a belligerent retirement had set it.
I turned up as fledgling circus girl and burlesque performer with nothing but a bag and a trapeze I had no place to hang.
I left two years later in a methotrexate daze with nerve damage, sleep deprivation, four extra stone in weight and claustrophobic loss of breath overy time I pictured the new flat. Next month I need my brain testing to check why there is nerve damage from such lack of sleep and constant sleep paralysis.
I grew up in fields. The only comfort of the blind house was its nature, it’s oak trees and fox cubs. I cried in the garden perched on the vegetable beds the last evening mourning my original flat there. the neighbour with dementia had gone above my vacant balcony, the drunk below long gone. I would never sip wine on that balcony again watching the sun set with the darling man below-but-one playing Jim Morrison and the Cure.
I wasn’t sad to leave the flat I had only been in less than three months before being told we all had to go. I was sad for the first one in the corner overlooking Richmond Park. They had found me a new place with tiny high windows and not a blade of grass.
The strange old men like school cliques set me jumping ship again. I sat in a taxi, numb, holding musical instruments. The cab driver made little talk.
The new flat is a real flat and not the 1960’s rabbit hutches. No one lingers outside to insult, to nose in. It has an old London looking front door, wood floors and thick walls. Days have been a rush since, a never ending to-do list.
London has fully gobbled me up again and I am just beginning to reawaken, to feel like an adult and not a patient again. The sounds of the neighbours on the stairs above are not the bangs of a scared old lady trapped with dementia. I can do what every I like without anyone needing to know again. You open the door and life is just there on my doorstep on the corner in such a stereotype of Londoness.
Everything gets to begin again.