Someone who knows me really, really well said something hurtful once. He said I come off as two-faced, and that I try too hard to make people like me. Someone else who hardly knows me at all said the exact opposite. He said I come off as the type of person who doesn’t care what people think. Then he asked me what my worst trait was. I told him I take everything personally, and he needed CPR to stop laughing.
Today, two people I respect called me brilliant. I blushed and fumbled and drew maps with my feet. Then I finished a project in just under four hours and felt really proud of myself, so I took a break.
I’m not entirely sure what happened after that, but I know my mood changed. Maybe it was because I met a writer. He’s someone that I’ve seen around, and I suspected that I knew who he might be. But his presence is so different from his words. In his words, he sounds strong and powerful and manly. In person, he’s a spaghetti thin chain smoker whose hands quaver when he talks. He held out his hand and said ‘Hi, I’m Tommy,’ and I had to bite my tongue to hold in the automatic response, which was, ‘I’m so sorry.’ It made me wonder if my words match my person.
Every word I said after that was tainted. I tweeted, texted, typed, DM-ed … and ten seconds after each exchange, I longed to retract my keystrokes. In the end, I gave up and went off to read a book. But I’m an addict, an adopted digital native. My net is never really off unless I’m asleep. So even as I sniffed the joy of tree-based pages, my eyes flicked over the screen and ignored my pronouncement of AFK. Yet every new word I put down left me more hollow.
I have some noodles and a chocolate in my bag. But I can’t open either because one piece between four people is the worst kind of math. So I nurse my black tea, put my feet up, tweak the cords on my headphones, hug the pages of my book … and wait for the moment to pass.
♫ Cloudboy ♫ USS ♫