As her book agent introduced her, she poised herself and threw on that smile that was half phony and half sincere. Part of her was ready and willing to meet her fans and the other part of her just wanted to run to the back of the auditorium and embrace him. She walked on stage and thanked the audience for coming. Who would have thought that her words on paper would draw such a crowd? She was a little girl when she imagined becoming an author and here she was a woman who had finally decided to make her imagination meet with her reality. As she began the passage that told the story of finding her one true love, she herself was transported back in time.
It was their passion for writing that had brought them together. He had dabbled in writing screenplays, he grew up in Los Angeles after all. Writing screenplays is a hobby of many when you are in the land of the stars. Throw a stone and you’ll hit someone in a Starbucks with a laptop typing away hoping to create something worthy of the big screen and the narcissistic actors that also frequented Starbucks for their lattes and frappucinos. She had dabbled in short stories and poetry. She was from nowhere on the map that anyone would choose to make a living and yet her parents had and so there she was. She dreamed of city life, too. Cities hold the best characters. She was an observer and she loved to people watch. It was her way of catching the idiosyncrasies that make each character unique.
She wasn’t looking for more than a friendship when they found each others’ blogs. She liked his blunt, brash way of writing about what others would call sensitive material. He didn’t care that he came off as someone that crossed the line between socially acceptable and despicable. He went for the laugh and she could see that, but she knew that he also believed in what he had wrote which was even more inviting to someone who was so careful with her words. So she sent him a private message letting him know that she wasn’t sure whether to laugh or be appalled but that she was impressed by his conviction to throw the reins off and write what others wouldn’t.
She never expected him to write back.
She was frozen in fear, unable to move almost feeling like she wasn’t even able to conjure a breath. She might just pass out right here. At least then she wouldn’t have to feel anymore. That was the worst part, the feeling. Why must every emotion bubble to the surface when she was going to see him? It’s as if from the time she ever laid eyes on him that he took over her whole being and drowned her until she became a frigid blue.
Any worth came from his approval of her which wasn’t often. She had been born inferior and just would never measure up. Well, here she was on a huge stage in front of millions of people speaking about her autobiography that apparently resonated with the masses and there was only one person she was looking for in the audience. Would she even be able to speak about the passages he knew he was part of? It’s easy to shroud identities in fiction, but memories not so much. She was brave in her writing but not as courageous in reality. Not so apt to call people to the carpet when they could contest it.
However, she knew that she had to write the book and that her version of events was just that: her version. She wasn’t asking others to accept it as their truth, simply as her own. She had a story to tell and she put it to print and the wonderful thing about it was that it was cathartic for her. And even though she knew she didn’t have to seek approval, she still wanted approval. Isn’t that what started the spiral of events in the book in the first place?
So there she stood behind the curtains peeking out into the audience, hoping to catch a glimpse of that baseball cap he always wore. Would he be there to support her even if his version was different than hers? She scanned the first couple of rows and saw her fans discussing the book and making small talk. She should know better than to think he would be in the front, so she averted her gaze to the back of the auditorium. There he was! Standing next to the door as if he was almost certain that he would need to make a speedy exit. Upon seeing him, she was finally able to breathe, and it was if she was taking a breath after being held underwater for several minutes.
I knew after that day there was no looking back
no claiming the persona that I so desperately held behind
the veneer had been removed and here I stood, raw
There is nothing worse than disappointing people
They want a superwoman that never cracks
They wanted something I delivered but with a cost and a high cost at that
I knew that I would no longer get the respect I deserved
because now in their eyes I was broken
a lesser person that just couldn’t cope
a person who had their ups and downs, but mostly downs
with no real rhyme or reason
Would they tell a diabetic that they should just get over it
Of course not, that would be ridiculous
but for some reason because my illness is not worn like a badge of honor
it simply is fictional and should be “gotten over”
Because of them, I felt weak
and the weakness only grew as the self esteem dwindled
I couldn’t smile anymore, couldn’t find the joy in the everyday or ANY day
I’m sorry I’ve let you down
Because I was highly functioning and aware
I must be alright
But god wasn’t everyday a struggle to not just throw in the towel
Because if I had to admit that I couldn’t continue without aid
But what isn’t seen are the small victories
the victory of not being ashamed and neglectful of health
the victory of having a day that was full of LIFE
the victory of claiming a passion back that was long forgotten with the haze
the victory of showing you the naked version of the truth
I am not to be any less loved
any less respected
ANY LESS than that person you may have admired before
because it takes much more strength to be this version of me than the other version
She was the type of person that sucked all the energy out of the room, the type to be avoided at all costs if you didn’t have a thick skin and couldn’t take her sharp, biting comments. You’d imagine that she had some reason for being so domineering and intimidating as if she were compensating for having a childhood of being bullied The bullied becoming the bully. But no, she grew up with a perfectly normal childhood with perfectly normal friends.
Maybe she just liked the feel of the power she had over others. To know that whatever she said, anyone would jump to accommodate her every wish. Whatever it was, I knew that I just didn’t appreciate her snark and her brashness. I was the new girl in the office and I’m sure most would expect me to be the last person to stand up to her.
Maybe I just got tired of seeing conversations come to a halt when she walked in each morning with her huge Starbucks cup. It must take a lot of caffeine to keep up with her level of bitchiness. Maybe I grew weary of everyone trying to look busy when she peered out of her corner office. Perhaps I just wanted to see her smug little face drop when someone didn’t respond with a ” Yes, Ma’am.”
It then became my mission at every meeting to contradict whatever point she was making. If she thought sales were down due to lack of clients’ discretionary funds, I’d be sure to point out that our clients had more than enough funds, and that perhaps we needed to diversify our products. To my surprise my tactic of contradiction actually led me to a place I’d never thought I’d be. The dreaded boss’s friend and confidante. As it turns out, she was just so sick of “YES MEN” and wanted someone to actually think for themselves. Go figure.
I remember what it felt like to write. To express myself in a way that didn’t consist of having to look another human in the face and spill my guts to them. To feel like whatever I put down on paper was mine to keep or mine to share. It was my choice and that was liberating. It was my voice translated into ink on paper.
Writers are much like musicians except their writing work is their sheet music constructing a melody across the page. Every writers’ fear is rejection and why many leave their work unseen and untouched by scrutiny. Writing is personal. However much like art, it can be interpreted in whoevers’ perspective comes upon it. Writing has layers.