We all have a story.
Some of us write it down. Some of us sing it. We paint it. We wear it. Some calculate it and turn it into a series of numbers, facts, dates, and formulas. We share it, hide it, flaunt it, let it trickle out of us, word by word. You shower and bathe yourself in the plot, subplots, climax, and resolution. You wake up one morning and realize you are ready to tell what you've been living. You are in the middle of a meeting for work and, next thing you know, you are suddenly hit with the burning desire to tell it.
Unlike the rest of your words, it doesn't start in your throat. It comes from somewhere inside you. Not the heart, that's too clich No, not your gut, this isn't about bravery; it's about need. This originates from somewhere deep within. I think they are calling it your soul these days. Soul. What a useless word. One without a real definition. But they say it defines "you", and you ask: why not bypass all the Webster's talk and just say "you"? Why do you have to chop yourself up into these little pieces? Soul. Mind. Body. Where does one end and the other begin? Does it really fucking matter? And you laugh at the philosophers with their bachelor’s degrees sitting in corners pondering these sorts of questions.
So, anyway, you are on fire. This need to tell someone is real, you decide. Nothing quenches fire like water, you think, drinking down another bottle of it at your desk at work. You look at the post-it notes in different colors outlining the piles of work sitting on your desk. You get up to go to the bathroom. The problem with water is that it is only a temporary solution. You go in and 'do your thing' and you think of an Ellen Degeneras monologue that won most talented. You see the hand sanitizer sitting on the counter in the bathroom. It says it kills 99.9% of all germs. You wonder just how lucky you have to be to be that .1% of bacteria that gets to live. You feel like that bacteria- you're chances aren't too good. You flip it around and read the label on the back. WARNINGS: For external use only. Flammable, keep away from fire or flame. Too late, you think. Keep out of reach of children. Just in time, you think, knowing full and well that somewhere along the way you grew up. You are not a child, not anymore. You have experience. You have a story.
Like all good stories there is a beginning and no real, defined ending- not yet anyways. Your story has been a long time coming, and everything that happened beforehand, well that's all just background information. It's what you read in the prologue or on the back or something. It's important enough to mention, but not real enough, not charged enough to be included in the main story. But, you assume you should start at the beginning, so that means a little prologue should be included. You try to come up with the words, buried inside of you, waiting to get out. You look to some other story as a model. You need rules, you always do. So, you've been thinking of Holly Golightly a lot these days. You decide, It's kind of like that. Kind of.
You remember Anatomy lab your freshman year of college. You met a young lady named Mandy the first day out in the hallway. She was a 29-year-old nurse going back to school, well really, to school for the first time. She was trained in the military and all her training, although very relevant, doesn’t count for anything on civilians. She has to start back at zero, but she seems okay with it and smiles, “I always wanted the college experience and now I am getting it.” She asks you questions about registering for classes-- advice that is too little, too late. She has been working in the hospital for ten years and she has to start back at zero. You see such enthusiasm for something you would consider a waste of your time. All that work, only to be done all over again? She smiles, “The military is paying for it all.” Isn’t that nice. Don’t you know honey? Money is time and yours is precious. You are 29 and in school. You should be out having babies and making a career and picking out furniture for your first real house. What a story, huh?
The teacher running the lab is named Kennedy. He has a beautiful accent that you really have to listen to understand. He tells you he is from Uganda and is getting his masters in the School of Public Health. He doesn’t know how to say “ambidextrous” in English, but he explains what he means quite well. He smiles, “I like to be informal with my students. You can e-mail me, call me. Ask questions about anything whenever you like. I want to make you learn; that is my job.” You immediately like him. You have to be guaranteed an A in this lab with the way he runs everything. At the end of the EMG demonstration the first day, the class is assigned the questions on the back of the sheet. Everyone is already done; they all did it while he was speaking. You are the last one to leave because you actually paid attention. You liked listening to him talk. He had a beautiful accent. He had a great story, you just knew it.
You remember a story your eighth grade history teacher told you about a college professor of hers. He taught philosophy. As if it is something you can teach. Anyways, he taught it and he would always ask "Why?" and the answer would always be "Because." And so, on the final exam, that was all he put: "Why?" And people were writing away in their little blue books, putting down all sorts of bullshit, all sorts of shining things. Your teacher, well she tells you about how she simply wrote "Because." It wasn't a trick question. There are no trick questions. There is always an easy answer, we just don't like it. So she put down her one-word answer and waited a little while, thinking that maybe she had gotten it wrong because everyone else was still writing. But just because everyone else is still writing doesn't mean she is wrong. She gets up and turns it in and the whole class smirks thinking she has given up on all the bullshitting. She can't think of anything else. They must be so smart to be writing all these things down in a little blue book answering the question "Why?" But she is right and she gets the only A. People over-complicate things.
Life is more rubbery than people let on. You think about writing it on one of the green post-it notes sitting on your desk. Maybe you'd stick it next to the little clear, plastic box with rubber bands in it. Office supplies are so odd to you. You have them all organized and labeled and stocked because you have fond memories of buying unused pencils for school every year in the summer. Maybe office supplies remind you of the summer and that is why you like them so much. Maybe they remind you of school and that is why you put them away. Maybe you are reminded of all the work you still have to do and so you compartmentalize them, just like the rest of your life.
You read all this and you hope this story is just words on a page. You pray that it is ficiton and not fact. You don't want to see yourself like this. You were going places. You had the world at your feet, everything was within your grasp, and now you are sitting in a cubicle. What happened?
You start to leave the room and last thing you do is grab your keys from the hook. You always do that: bring them with you even if you're not going to your car or walking up to unlock your house. You carry them on you all the time, thinking that maybe one day it will unlock something other than the front door. Maybe some exotic place, where the doors have been locked for decades, concealing hidden treasures and adventures. Always the keys with nothing to unlock. No adventures. What happened?
The earliest memory you can think of is a Christmas when you are little. You must have just started walking. You remember all the wrapping paper laying around the room, undone, abandoned. The bows and ribbons tied with care the night before are thrown about. The tree is in that same corner of your family's living room and the lights are multi-colored and fascinating. You can see yourself, like an out-of-body experience, walking over to the coffee table in the middle of the room wanting to get a closer look at something. It's a snowglobe. One of those musical ones with an angel inside it. Your mother had just wound it up and it is playing music. You want to investigate. You go to grab it and it falls on the hardwood floors and shatters. You remember this moment because it scared you. You weren't expecting it. It was beautiful and you didn't want to see it broken like that. Water is everywhere you are crying and your mother rushes in and keeps asking, "What happened?"
You don't know what the fuck happened. You don't know how you got here, to this place in the story. People are so clueless. They are too naive. They trust and believe too easily, you think. You think about creating some exit route, an escape plan for this sort or situation. You decide to stand out in front of churches and synagogues and temples and scam people willing to eat up some bullshit. Too easy, strike that. You decide to stand in malls and pretend to work for a modeling agency, but really the idea is to scam teenagers. You plan to stop all the gorgeous girls and handsome guys (everyone in high school you wanted to either be or bang) and give them high hopes. You want to watch their faces light up with the thought of being famous. You want to remember what it is like to be young and nae. You want to make their day in a mean, cunning sort of fashion. If I really worked at an agency, you think, I would hire them. But, you do not, and they will never be on the cover of a magazine.
If there are two things in this life you have learned it is that:
Everything beautiful is meant to be broken and
not every story gets told.