The Kind of Water You Can Breathe

Social alienation has always been a constant in my life. I was always horrified by human society, I share the values of a few minorities, and I find most people to be totally scary. To aggravate the situation, my views are becoming more and more radical as I age, and the physical confinement that comes with office work means that most of the time there’s not a single human being in the same room I can relate with or even understand remotely.

At the same time, oddly, I’m so comfortable in my own skin that I don’t even notice it. I have always felt like this, even when I was a disgraced teenager plagued by acne (and I mean plagued quite literally, like in bubonic plague).

It’s like in a good zombie film. I’m the only survivor of a zombie apocalypse (yes I feel oh so special – totally full of myself) and my quest is finding other survivors, except that I’m too lazy so most of the time it’s the other survivors that find me by their own devices and then stay willingly. It’s amazing. I must somehow emit a certain wavelength very distinctly.

Sometimes they’re real people I know, sometimes they’re real people I don’t know, sometimes they’re fictional people.

Neil Gaiman is a fabulous writer but I’ve never felt completely in tune with his work. Up until last Sunday, when I started The Ocean at the End of the Lane. Of course you know the feeling you get sometimes that a specific work of art was made to talk to you specifically and it was made by stealing things from your head (in a good way, in the way that you recognize a fellow human in front of you, who knows what you know and much more). It’s what readers seek and dread at the same time and it makes the very heart of the reading experience.

Well it does not happen very often to me. It does happen though, and it’s amazing and ever so shocking, each time it’s shocking. The Ocean, the roasted carrots, the magic hazelnut, the plush toilet seat. I deliberately slowed down while reading, I had to, and it took me almost an entire week to read less than 200 pages. I did not sleep well last night.

Neil Gaiman knows an awful lot of things. For example he knows where my cat comes from exactly. My cat who once was a tiny black kitten with a bad cold crying all alone in the rain and no one knew where he had come from (it’s unlikely he was abandoned as the place where we found him is not accessible by cars and he seemed to be unaware of the existence of people to that point). Neil Gaiman, of all people, knows where he came from.