The life of a shut-in takes on a strange flavor. I feel a little like William Hurt in the old movie Altered States, floating in my sensory deprivation tank. Everything seems perfectly normal until I rub up against the outside world.
Wednesday my friends brought me to their house for supper and to watch Criminal Minds. At first, everything seemed homey and familiar—Gracie, their Border Collie whimpered with delight when I came in, spaghetti sauce smelled like spaghetti sauce, furniture rested on the floor the way gravity intended. But there was this odd thing we did at the dinner table. Conversation. What? And a different channel was showing on the TV. And Tom started playing his guitar while Scott Pelley relayed the news. The world started to cant sideways like an old Twilight Zone episode.
Back in the womb of my apartment, the weirdness faded. Hehehe. I’m not really a blob of morphing jelly-flesh in a Salvador Dali painting. Just a little stimulus-deprived. Yeah, that’s it.
Yesterday, one of the gals from TOPS gave me a ride to the meeting. What a treat to have all those women fuss over me. Such a lovely group of friends I’m building there. But, part-way through the meeting the sound of all those voices talking in a cavernous auditorium crossed a threshold. Is that what the Plague of Locusts sounded like? The hot metallic buzzing of billions of tiny, hairy legs rubbing together? I got a little dizzy.
A person can get used to living alone, can even come to prefer it. But, too long alone and cocooned by the same music, the same visual stimulus, the same, the same, the same… Well, it messes with the mind. And my mind doesn’t need any more messiness. I’m taking back my driving privileges this weekend and getting the hell out of Dodge.
This experience also makes me much more sympathetic to long-term shut-ins. If you know anyone who can’t get out of the home on their own, think about taking them for a ride. They might resist. That deprivation tank expands to encompass the whole world, so stepping outside it is jarring. But, friends don’t let friends turn into flesh-jelly.