It might be partly because the people to whom I'm closest here are 20 and are thus people to whom I'm only close in a highly bounded and delimited way, and it might be partly because so many aspects of the culture in which I'm living do feel downright alien to me, but frequently I feel as though my life is taking place in a parallel universe. It's not that I'm not living fully or that I'm feeling disengaged; it's that the ways in which I am engaged, the things that keep me nattering on in my own head for hours on end, are things that have very little--in a direct sense, anyway--to do with the life going on all around me. It's a funny effect, funny enough that when people I encounter during my days do engage with me, it seems strange. Today, I carried a new copy of The Invention of Hugo Cabret with me to school so that I could read it on the train home. I stopped at the Exploding Bakery, part of the plaza at the Central Station, and as he was bagging my little quiche and making change from my £5 note, the guy behind the counter asked me about my "weighty tome" and we had a little conversation. It's been funny in the past week or so to realize how much it feels unusual to spend significant amounts of time (especially social time) with other people--even though everyone is friendly and I generally don't feel lonely. I saw the new Wuthering Heights the other night and then went out for dinner with the two people I'd seen the film with, and the whole night felt, again, as though it were happening in a parallel world.
For the record, of all the things I've had a student reveal after words (spoken with a sheepish sideways glance) like "Well, I didn't go out this weekend because...", a freshly acquired, still-healing tongue stud might be both the most unexpected and the best.