The Silver Sarcophagus: Sensory and Social Isolation in Small Spaces

I’ve always liked small spaces. As a kid, I read books under the bed. The small space distanced me from the overload of my physical reality while stories transported me to fantasies and realities beyond my life, body, and experience. My pocket universes, though small in this world, possessed the depth and breadth for a book to unfurl.

I hid in closets. I created pillow and blanket forts and set up house in tool sheds. I sought and created small spaces in a big world of sensory and social overwhelm. I found room to be me in edges, underneaths, and in-betweens.

I’ve long wanted to live in a camper. Before starting a family, my dream was to get a piece of undeveloped land and park an RV on it. A small, cozy space set amidst the social isolation of sprawling nature is my formula for coping.

Our aging minivan is the perfect platform to experiment with my sensory needs. I installed a solar panel, battery, and inverter and turned it into a mobile, off-grid sensory and social isolation habitat. It’s a rolling coping mechanism, an accessibility device, a sensory safe smial of Cavendish space. I call it the Silver Sarcophagus. For the alliteratively playful, try also coping cocoon, coping capsule, burnout bivy, and burnout buoy.

The Sarcophagus is equipped to boondock on public lands and hook up to facilities at state, national, and RV parks. Everywhere I go, my sensory coping space is with me. Everywhere I go, a lozenge of predictable comfort with a good mattress is here to help me endure.

Neuropathy, chronic pain, autistic burnout, and activist burnout have forced me into semi-retirement. I’m at the end of my career wondering what to do with myself once savings runs out. For now, I will abide in my wandering smial, seeking solace in a small space set amidst sprawling nature. From within, the energy for yet another reinvention might be mustered. The continuous fluid adaptation required to cope in a neurotypical world is exhausting. I’ll be in the Silver Sarcophagus marshaling my reserves.

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