October 25, 2012

a small price to pay

There's a thing I do, sometimes, when I get bored or tired or burned out on normal life; when I need a minute to rest, to get away, to not worry about things I worry about. For a little while, I pretend I'm not me. I put on a little show, in fact, and it goes like this:

I go to a coffee shop like the one I'm in now, I order something soy, I find somewhere to sit. I'm quite picky about my placement - I try to make that unspokenly clear to other patrons watching me choose. I find a place that will suit me, I sit there. I've worn something I like, usually, and made sure my hair is pretty good that day. For some reason that's important. Sometimes I wear glasses, but they're not real glasses. I'm telling you this because I trust you won't judge me. I trust that some days you wish you could pretend to be someone else, too. And if it's as simple as donning a $10 pair of fake glasses, I mean, can you blame me?

Anyway, I sit. I have great posture, maybe prop my leg up on the chair opposite me sometimes. I open my MacBook, plug in my headphones and choose something cool to listen to. The Avett Brothers today, I think. It's important that I wouldn't mind if someone knew I was listening to it, should they ask, though I know they won't. I drink my soy whatever and I tilt my head thoughtfully, as I am doing now. I look discerningly at my laptop screen as though to let onlookers know I am carefully choosing my words, which I am, but I want it to be apparent. I do this sort of consciously, actually, as though I think I have an audience, but I promise I know I don't. I know I am only performing for one person, and that person is me. Because I am being someone different today. Nobody here has any idea, how could they, so I guess I want to make sure I know it.

As I sit and sip and tilt, I write. Because in this scene I am a writer. A writer who spends my nights at coffee shops and writes things that are important and meaningful and poignant, who wears glasses, sometimes, whose hair is good on all days, not just this one, who is thoughtful, chooses words carefully. Here I am not a person who's job it is to worry about other people's problems, here I am not a person who has sadness, or grief, and if I am, I am the kind who knows exactly what to do with it. Here I am not the kind of person who cares what other people think. Here, in fact, I am sort of demure and glamorous, mysterious, in whatever kind of way someone wearing a hoodie can be. Here I am the kind of person who doesn't wear my heart on my sleeve, I am someone people wonder about instead of just knowing because I probably already told them. Because, I remind myself, head tilting, here tonight, I am not me.

Eventually, though, I will get sleepy; because I am a person whose job it is to worry about other people's problems, who cares what other people think, who wears my heart on my sleeve, and those things can be tiring. I will stay a little longer, even then, but eventually I snap my laptop shut, take one more swig of soy and pack up my things. It's time to be me again. Maybe just slightly more like the girl in the coffee shop than before, just from the practice, but mostly still just me.

That might sound depressing to you. At first it did to me, too, but I think instead it's actually kind of hopeful. Because I like to think that even though I am me, even though I am set in a lot of ways, I am not stuck. I am me. But the girl from the coffee shop is also just me, in the end, aside from the glasses which I already admitted aren't real. I am a writer. A writer who is also a lot of other things too, things that can be tiring, but who can sit in a coffee shop with a pair of fake glasses on and forget about all that other stuff for a little bit.

Maybe that's what life is, in the end, maybe growing up just means being what you are and practicing the things you'd like to be more of until one day maybe you are those things too. Maybe one day I'll discover I'm a little bit glamorous. Even slightly mysterious. Maybe one day I'll realize I care a little less about what other people think and even though I'll probably always worry about other people's problems, I'll always have coffee shops and fake glasses to fall back on when I need a break, and that's enough to keep me going. Yes. Hope. That's what that is. And as dumb as I felt buying those stupid hipster glasses, I'd say it was $10 well spent. A small price to pay [and by "price" I mean both the $10 and the pride I had to sacrifice to own fake glasses, no matter how cute they are] for an evening of rest and hope every now and then.

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