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jack in the box

Updated: Mar 27, 2023

I turn the crank and it plays a silly song. Even though you know what’s about to happen, it’s still a bit startling when the lid springs open and the clown pops out. I am that clown.

It’s been almost a year since social stuff started to open back up. For me, it was pretty abrupt. I spent most of my time alone for a couple of years, so the rush back to reality was intense, especially since my work is populated with lots of people.

Even though I struggled with solitude, I feel I grew as a person. I had plenty of time to investigate the depths and far corners of myself. My inner world and sense of self really had time to mesh, but that didn't prepare me to reintegrate into society. It is so strange it seems comical.

I dreamt of it all coming back. The only thing I wanted was to be around people. When I am, it is surreal. Sometimes it is wonderful; other times it is overwhelming. I relish in it because I want it so bad, but then I retreat a bit to recover from overstimulation.

Finding my way in a world that has changed, when I too have changed, hasn’t been easy. I seldom feel as comfortable out in it as I do alone in mine. I used to, and I am hoping I will again.

If I’m honest, I’ve always known I’m a bit awkward. I’m used to feeling like I am from the land of misfit toys. But it all seems magnified now. I can feel the crank being turned as I’m getting all wound up and ready to pop out of the box. It’s my moment, but I know it is still a bit startling with all my bobbing and flailing.

I understand the theatrics of my stilted social interactions are mostly in my head, but I haven’t settled in enough to feel like I am effortlessly gliding into rooms or conversations at this point.

I never wanted to be confined to a box. The box squeezed me so hard I almost broke, yet any social ease I had before hasn’t returned.

Sometimes the box seems like the safest place.

Push the clown back down and close the lid. I’ll be back out after a few more turns and some janky music 🦋

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