It had been five years since she and the family had moved to the Bay area. Like all the previous moves she fed off the change as a fresh distraction and energy boost. She would marvel on endlessly to anyone who would listen of the exciting new surroundings and sights she'd explored. It made for a wonderful cover story for her life: the Successful Person Succeeding.
And also as before, the tank ran dry with no way of refueling. That familiar restlessness that could not be bargained with would creep inside her like a turning worm and the slow descent to hell started yet again. At times she thought she'd go mad saved only by the expensive proof of her furnishings as circumstantial evidence of her well being. This time had to be different. The moves were becoming too obvious a sign of telltale unhappiness.
She didn't make friends like she used to. With every move she drew further and further inward, less trusting glances over her shoulder. Her de facto best friend suffered the same sort of empty life and she took comfort in her friend's shallow outlook. It gave her a certain sense of moral superiority and that was getting harder and harder to come by. But she was reaching a tipping point and needed a change in behavior. A confessor her friend would be!
"Do you want to know a secret?"
Well, this is different! She's always so closed off like she's too precious to share. God, I hope she's not going to tell me she's a lesbian.
"If you feel comfortable, sure. To tell the truth, you've seemed listless lately. I thought perhaps it might be the pollen."
Oh Lordy, she always brings it down the most shallow level possible. I bet I'll wow her with my depth of integrity!
"I told you how many times we've moved before, this last time from one coast to the other. I guess you could say I've been searching for something. What, I'm not exactly sure."
The words shocked even herself, coming out so freely and clearly, removing the mist from even her own eyes. Yes, she was searching for something. Careful, don't go too far!
"Do you think you found it here at last?"
Fool! I'm searching on the inside, not the outside. I'll have to explain every last damn detail to her! But it's time I did something. I'm going to show I've got liberal courage and honesty too.
"There's someone out there who thinks I'm very special. He wrote a book of poetry about me. For him I was the only one - or no one. I still think about him when I start feeling...not special."
One thing her friend did not need explained was an unromantic husband. They were both trapped in marriages of convenience and forced to realize the illusions of youth. They had reached the point that appearances were all they had left. Romance was for movies.
"So you're searching for him?"
"No, it's enough to know he's out there, pining away. If only I could combine him with my husband I'd have everything."
"My Freddy could use some improving too. He thinks it'd kill him if he had to send me a bouquet of flowers. What ya gonna do?"
I'm spilling my life's guts out here and she's talking of flowers! She can't even grasp the gravitas of a life such as mine.
"He sent me a manuscript of his poetry. You've never seen anyone so in love. The fate of his life was in my hands. I was the star of his nighttime dreams. I threw it away, of course. Not something I could keep around the house."
"Heck, you shoulda married him!"
"He didn't have the stability I required. Life is not a fairy tale. Besides, I met him after I was already married."
"Tough break. So whatever happened to him."
"I don't know. I'm sure he's wandering around lost without me. Point is, he depends on me."
"Tough break for him! But you sound lost too."
With her fading identity, disintegrating self-image and bloating body from over the years, she was not ready for criticism such as that. She still had the world, she could not be lost.
"No, he's just something to think about to remind me I'm special. We all need that."
"Maybe he's moved on and you're old news to him. That can happen, ya know."
Ha! She thinks I don't have the gritty objectivity to have asked myself that question! I'll be as a god to her.
What she did lack was the gritty objectivity to was to answer it correctly.
"No, he can never move on without me. I'll always be special to him."
"You know what you are! You're a vampire!" Her friend blurted out as if she'd just opened a box and discovered something horrific inside. "You're just living off that boy to keep alive!"
A shot aimed squarely at her heart done without intention, shattering her to pieces. She had wanted to confess - but not to be exposed as a fraud! From winner to loser in the twinkling of an eye. She physically doubled over from the wound driving back home not through her previously high tone paradise but in a suburban hell where every house was a façade of something sinister.
Her friend couldn't understand what the big deal was. Long ago she'd accepted the ugliness of life as an inevitability. That's just the way it was regardless of choices. You become a zombie and go on. Why get upset?
But for a dreamer to be ripped of her dreams, it was a big deal - the biggest deal of all, a nuclear apocalypse. Though greatly relieved to find her friend's later acceptance even after her awful Revelation, the next three months were spent in counseling and medication. But for her to be stuck in a world of vampire movies and book series, she had constant reminders as to what she feared she'd become.
She sank into bi-polar despair. One moment all was right with the world and the Revelation had never happened - or of it did happen it had no meaning. She was still as safe as ever. But in the opposite extreme her life was over with no hope of escape. She had ruined everything. Being too much to think about she prayed for an answer while secretly hoping she could somehow find a way to keep her old lies alive.
That's why when she returned from shopping one day and saw an envelope taped to the door with her name on it her heart raced like never before. The universe had answered. It had to be him! She was saved. With this one final bite she could live the rest of her life. It was in this moment she could finally articulate that which had been her greatest fear: that despite her marriage, her 2.5 children, and her luxury lifestyle, she had lived her life in vain, devoid of meaning, only taking never contributing, a parasite upon the planet, one who had wasted her gifts.
The note gave her the truth she'd long sought:
Once I thought you were
the sun and the moon and the stars.
the sun and the moon and the stars.
Boy, was I wrong.
You're just an ordinary cow.
Choices had meaning after all.