My dear friend, we must talk. Yes—stop right there, directly and exactly opposite me. I have an enquiry that I would greatly like to put to you. I would put it to myself were I not already entirely put out by it!
My darling, be straight with me. Am I truly this naturally tidy and aesthetic? Was this taste in retro furniture a feature of my character that came to me evolutionarily? Does free will exist, and did I employ it when purchasing this quirky pair of binoculars? Do I even like binoculars?
Or am I trapped in a Wes Anderson film?
My suspicions of late have been growing, much like my antique telephone collection. I found myself pondering these deep and dark thoughts while sitting one day in the perfect centre of my bathtub, unable to move a muscle lest I break the symmetry of my situation. No, truly—I felt incapable of moving. Should I talk to an elderly member of a mountain-based religious order about OCD? Or is the bathtub thing actually an example of intelligent design?
Hang on—do I recognise that person? Is it just me or does that elderly woman in a ushanka look a lot like Tilda Swinton?
The orderly nature of my life is beginning to trouble me. Words flit across my vision in Helvetica font, describing my actions sometimes even before I perform them. And worse—when I awake and open my eyes, the first thing I see is the day of the week floating in the air before me in a stylish typeface. Why must my days be categorised thus?
On this note, darling—I have been questioning how I live life day by identical day. I find myself excessively preoccupied with quotidian routines, most of which involve my disembodied hand plucking specific objects—frequently items of clothing or mementos revealing facets of my character—from colourful yet complementary surfaces. But why? Why do I feel the insatiable need to remove these objects from their storage places, position them in a manner that serves only the viewing pleasure of an invisible deity stuck to my ceiling, and then pluck said objects from these carefully arranged positions one by one? What is the point? Why can’t I just get dressed like everyone else?
And on clothing: why, even as a woman who is definitely older than 20, must I only own white socks that roll right up to my kneecaps? I went searching for alternatives in quirkily remote convenience stores doing business near lighthouses, ports, German prisons, and manor houses, and not one could offer me a sensible alternative. It’s almost like someone wants to keep me infantilised through prescriptive fashion choices. I’m also sceptical of these gloves.
Wait—was that Edward Norton? Why is he wearing a bucket as a hat?
My dear, I am scared. Who trapped me in this soulless existence dictated by a male authority figure? Why do I have no interests beyond appearing picturesque? In my darkest moments, I fear I am not only flat of chest, but also flat of character. Even my unconventional liking of yellow accents in interior design is unlikely to count as a personality trait in the grand scheme of our cosmic quiddity.
What of my mind, you ask? Well—I am literate. Yet I have been reading the same collection of annotated sea shanties with the vintage cover for eight years. I have also never actually swum in the ocean, for fear of a wave approaching me on the diagonal instead of on a trajectory perpendicular to the pale outstretched length of my floating figure. I don’t know why this scares me more than the idea of marrying a man after exchanging fewer than ten words with him.
Oh look—another Tilda Swinton lookalike! There, under the Victorian sun umbrella!
Then there is the question of friendships. Why do I not have any friends? Why, indeed, are there no other young women in these parts with whom to converse? Don’t be offended, my darling—even though you are one of my greatest treasures, you are also a personified image of a flamenco dancer on a box of matches. I don’t seek to wound you, but there it is.
I suppose I can at least credit my décor preferences with keeping the local wallpaper factory in business. Is it possible for wallpaper patterns to count as friends?
And then there is the question of my knees and ankles. Why must they always be touching when I am sitting or standing? Why do I feel as sexless as a doll handcrafted by an elderly Prussian toymaker? Wait—am I a wooden doll?
Everyone around me appears to possess extensive wardrobes allowing for a multiplicity of disguises. Either six people in this neighbourhood look like Bill Murray, or Bill Murray is here and dressing as six different people. And stop hiding behind that typewriter, Tilda—I know you’re not a real social worker. You’re not fooling anyone.
I am beginning to resent the fact that if an intelligent creator indeed exists, they didn’t think or care to provide me with a filter. I would be less captivatingly confessional, perhaps—but also more socially fluent. God, I’m lonely.
I am also beginning to question the nostalgia I hold for these items around me that evoke a place and time period with which I am entirely unacquainted. What about this fish fork, for example, makes me think ‘aesthetic’? Who uses fish forks these days?
My darling, it is time. I must test my limits; push my boundaries. Only by challenging the status quo will I learn who I truly am, and whether I am trapped or free to live as I choose. Tomorrow, I will go out on a limb and pick up an object in a nonchalant manner that does not pander to the ceiling deity. Tomorrow, I will tear up my telegrams and bury this silver whistle hanging inexplicably around my neck. Tomorrow, I will seek out humans with imperfect cheekbone structures and at last confirm that such creatures exist.
But first, I must rest. Goodnight, matchbox flamenco dancer friend. Time to lie perfectly flat on my back until a stray plotline demands my idiosyncratic, colour-matched, mathematically exact symmetrical presence. That, or Tilda Swinton climbs into my coffin.