Sometimes, one really is faced with the choice of the lesser of two evils. Mine was to be dragged to an enormous corporate Christmas party (the other choice was endless whining). The amount of internal self-cursing on the state of my life whilst driving to this doom cannot be overstated. We pulled up to one of those intimidating, unwelcoming office spectacles in downtown Dallas meant to make the inferior feel more inferior. Worst part was I had a dark flashback to my many times passing by this enemy building in dire despair while homeless.
Let me see if I can explain the enormity of the wasteland of loneliness that is the city streets, of how wonderful it is to hear about your life speculated upon on clueless radio as to the source of your woes as if one were part of an invisible zoo where fellow creatures stare at you curiously then wash you from their minds. I laugh when I read about how those unemployed for the first time feel startlingly invisible having stepped through the looking glass. Welcome to my world. A world where buildings become characters in a lost play, some friendly, some menacing. To make matters worse, in my latest outcasting the crippling pain of missing Amelie crushed me in unspoken heartbreak night and day.
I'm sure this is a story I can share at the party.
Traveling up the elevator I feel as a condemned prisoner on the way to his execution: no way out. While the elevator was rising the feeling in my stomach was sinking. My invite and I were not alone in there so I'm already feeling ill-at-ease and out-of-place. I paused as the doors parted to a sea of people ready to mock the moron coming among them. I had to think someday someone would make a passion play of this ordeal.
My invite naturally went her own way since it was her corporate masters swilling the night away. I was left like chum in the water, my insides twisting in agony. I wished to cry out for help but (rightly) assumed that would only make matters worse. What was I going to say to anyone? They ask me how I am and I say, "Homeless and suicidal. And you?"
These are the very people I carefully avoid normally; office beings, aliens of a bubbled world that rests on the backs of workers like me and on an unsustainable fiction of corporate morality. People like me horrify them because we see them from underneath, where they can't hide, as we mop their floors and empty their wastebaskets. There are spies wherever you go, hotel housekeepers tell the best stories.
My reeling mind tries to cling to the hope I have some sort of time buffer before my fraudulence is exposed. I even overhear some very inane conversation that made me realize office workers are definitely not rocket scientists. But that was small comfort. For while their need to be self-oblivious provided me some protection, it takes only one pair of piercing eyes to unmask you and leave you hanging out to dry before all the world. It was for those eyes I desperately scanned the room in fear.
In doing so I noticed many types of creatures. I saw the slick and oily, I saw warring witches and sad sycophants, the supremely insulated, diabolical climbers, and other corporate trolls that made my blood run cold. A few did surprise me with their seeming humanness and I wondered how they kept that form in this artificial environ. But then I glanced upon a pair of dreaded piercing eyes, as if I were prey spotted in the wild. Was only for an instant, a woman's, dark haired, no more. "Shit, hope that's only my imagination."
Regardless, I got rattled and felt my nerve giving out. The screaming for help idea came back into play. I wondered how much of my confused misery was showing on my carefully posed face. At that exact moment there wasn't a single aspect of my existence above doubt. Let the good Lord take me now! And that's when a woman's voice whispered in my ear from behind: "Don't be an impostor for love."
For a second I was frozen, mesmerized by the thought. Was I walking around with my life exposed? Was this a lifeline of love? It seemed like several minutes but was only a few seconds before I turned my head to see the identity of the whisperer. She slipped away too quickly, like an eel between the reeds. I caught the back of her neck and her stylish outfit. "Amelie!" I couldn't resist indulging myself, apparently.
The thought of her finding me, rescuing me, forgiving me, and actually not wanting me to die elated me to heaven. The relief of at last holding the winning hand, I felt myself rise above the room on a cloud of bliss, released from my hell, wholly unconcerned with the eyes of others forever. I noticed I started breathing. In the blink of an eye my entire life changed. Inside, I was kneeling with tears of joy. This too felt like several minutes but was only several seconds. Then I had to realize: how could that really be Amelie?
Everyone wants to believe they've drawn the winning ticket. God help me if Amelie ever found out about this fleeting fantasy. I'm sure I'd get an earful. Who knows? Maybe this woman was going around saying this to every moron she spotted in the room. Or had I been singled out? Mulling the possibilities was driving me out of my mind! I cursed myself for yet another fatal hesitation in my life, whereas if she'd spoken in a moment where I wasn't so weak I could have stopped her and found out what she meant. But it seems opportunity ONLY happens in a moment of weakness.
So I was left to consider only her words.
Maybe it wasn't just me. Maybe everyone in the room was an impostor for love. Maybe she was speaking to someone near me and I simply overheard. Maybe, maybe, maybe. What I did know was I hated the message, like she was reading my mind. Yes, I was faking it. I'm always faking it. How else does one get by when living at the mercy of lunatics and monsters devoid of reason? And what benefit does it do me to reveal my woes to those who cannot help? Was she speaking of the here and now or of relationships in general? I had to get out of the suffocating room.
I retreated down to the lobby where I dreamed up "Die Hard" sequences to pass the despairing time. My blackmailer to this event rang my cell and chewed me out for my usual "negative" attitude. I did not bother trying to explain the whisper. All I wanted was back under my rock to contemplate those biting words in a safe place.
That night in bed I replayed it over and over. The Amelie elation I suffered genuinely bothered me, like I really was missing a greater truth of salvation. For a brief instant, I was somebody once more. But my complaint when I had love was that I was an impostor. What's worse, I didn't have the nerve to find out, putting me on the run. A man once said, "You run, you die." And that's dearly proven out so far. Did hearing this advice mean I have another chance coming? How can that be?
And worst of all was my initial true response to the whisper, the one thing I'd buried in deep dejected doubt: How else would anyone love me?
Making my way down to the lobby