It’s funny how differently your mind can work just by being in a different physical space.
On my walk today, I tried a totally different route, and although it clocked in at 80 minutes, which is the standard for my walks nowadays, it felt about three times that long. While I was very happy with myself at being able to walk for 80 minutes without needing a rest (though after about an hour, standing up from tying my shoes got me a little light-headed, which was a bit worrying), I got to this place just down the road from me that I’d never been to before, an industrial area, and began to feel afraid for my safety. It evoked memories of evil dock-workers and thuggish night-life in films and on TV, and just the feeling of being walled-in in an unfamiliar environment was quite enough to make me very self-conscious.
The funny thing is, right before that, the road I’d walked down to get there brought up all of these really interesting far-back sensory memories of being a very young child, where there were houses that looked like nothing so much as life-sized playhouses; and coming out of that road I turned the corner and saw the top of a house that was almost straight out of several dreams I’ve had, a big brown building with skylights set into what looked to be a wooden roof, the kind of place that looks like teenagers would shack up there to do things late at night, and overall I just had this sense of being transported into a different time, a different life. I felt like a stranger, and I rather liked it. Even when things got creepier later on, I still kind of liked it, being out of my element, out of my normal space, and normal headspace.
I thought about why I felt so nervous down by the industrial district. I don’t think industrial areas are the friendliest places to begin with, and I doubt many people feel that comfortable there unless they work there or whatever, especially at night. And I thought to myself that if I had lived in that area my whole life, I’d be used to it. I would be more resilient to the sense of apprehension of danger than I was as a stranger, who wanted to get home.
And then it clicked. Yes, I’m definitely influenced by media representations of unruly dock workers and bad things going down at night in constructions sites, and yes, just the physical presence of looming buildings and rowdy people standing backlit in garages can be enough to make one feel ganged-up upon. But it was the fact that I was aiming to get home that was the core of my anxiety, the fear of being prevented from reaching my destination. I had stakes, I realised, stakes that I might not have if I lived right next door to that area, for example, but the point was that my fear came from how invested I was in what was at stake for me.
Which, of course, gave me some ideas about central conflicts and stories and stuff. And some ideas for new stories in general as well.
Also, though, the fact that not every idea has to be turned into a story. Just feeling old memories coming unstuck from deep in my mind and storming around like clouds of dust was worth experienced for its own sake, that feeling of being transported, of feeling like somebody else. And all only about ten minutes’ walk from my place. Never been there before in my life. It was rather surreal.
It felt like a good use of my break from Tallulah.
Although then I came home after walking for 80 minutes (90 after I deliberated a bit over whether to buy dinner, which I decided not to just to try and maintain the habit) and there was no hot water for a shower, so that was fun to deal with. And then about ten minutes ago I cracked into the original Word document that started Tallulah, 20 months ago.
It is REALLY different.
It is so different that I almost want to tell it as its own story.
As an origin story.
I’m not going to tell an origin story. Probably. I think this is just my brain continuing to freak out; I made a list of character interviews I want to do, and I shall probably do those over the weekend. I might put the template up here if it works well, just in case any of you want to try it out.
But it’s interesting going back to those old ideas for its own sake. Evoking old experiences, old priorities, and letting them spend some time in your present. A kind of benevolent haunting I guess. I rather appreciate it.
Also, apparently the hot water is back. It’s the little things that count.