Not About Love, ch. 5: End Scene

“How are you?” She turned the conversation to me now. I paused. Then, in one of those eternity-in-a-second kind of moments, I saw myself give three different responses, three different scenarios like simultaneous acts to a play in the chaotic theater of my mind and I, the sole member of a conflicted audience, had no idea which to choose.

Act 1:

Scene opens to a clear night with a man and a women facing each other, in front of the steps leading to his door. All is illuminated by the warm glow of a street lamp.
“How are you?” She turned the conversation to me now. I paused.
“I’m… fine.” He turns away from her, hands in pockets, teeth clenched. The look of worry on her face betrays her incredulity.
“Ok… Listen, I know you don’t open up much, but you know if you need someone you can always talk to me, right?” She reaches out her hand, then thinks better of the motion. He turns back to her.
“Yeah, I know.” He doesn’t.
“Ok. Goodnight. Try to get some sleep?” She offers a half-hearted smile.
“I’ll try. ‘Night. Text me when you get home safe.”
He quickly scales the steps and enters through the door. Hurt, she walks back to her car. She doesn’t notice his caring gaze through the window. End scene.

Act 2:

Scene opens to a clear night with a man and a women facing each other, in front of the steps leading to his door. All is illuminated by the warm glow of a street lamp.
“How are you?” She turned the conversation to me now. I paused.
“How am I? I… I feel as though my heart will rip right out of my chest if another day goes by and I haven’t told you how I feel! (the light seems to converge on one spot as everything else blackens and we see only our two lovers on stage) I haven’t been able to stop thinking about you. You’re my last thought before I sleep and my first when I awake. Not a day goes by I don’t wish to simply be where you are, if only to have the chance to admire you, all of you, your talent and your grace and the sheer rays of goodness which seem to emanate from your every step. If the words exist that could estimate the infinity of your light I have yet to know them. As such I am cursed with the pitiful use of clichΓ©s to make my feeble attempts at your boundless beauty and the unfathomable depth of your soul.”
Our two lovers lean in, a mere inch from sharing a deep and passionate kiss, when suddenly he backs away. She freezes, and he steps toward the audience into a spotlight.
“Oh come oooooonn. Get it together! You don’t really feel that way about her and she doesn’t feel that way about you. You’re both just sick of being lonely, and even the fantasy of a romantic grandstand feels kinda nice. But you want to know the truth? Those kinds of speeches are easy. Off the top of your head you could speak cadences of praise to a rock if you wanted to. And remember, when you actually do meet her, it won’t be the eloquence of Shakespeare filling your head, but the stilted remains of the most beautiful mental annihilation you have yet to experience. Never forget, that’s what you’re waiting for. So come on, man. Not like this.”
He walks back her as the spotlight fades. She looks up into his eyes, hopeful. He turns his head away.
“Have a good night. Text me when you get home safe.”
He quickly scales the steps and enters through the door. Hurt, she walks back to her car, not noticing his caring gaze through the window. End scene.

Act 3:

Scene opens to a clear night with a man and a women facing each other, in front of the steps leading to his door. All is illuminated by the warm glow of a street lamp.
“How are you?” She turned the conversation to me now.
The mood takes a sudden shift as the streetlamp cuts out, leaving two spotlights: one to remain still on her, and one to follow him as he moves about the stage.
“How am I?? I. Am SO SICK. Of that question! ‘How are you?’ You know what, It’s lazy. You could take care to actually listen and understand what’s important to me– here’s a hint, it’s all the stuff I actually like talking about– but instead you’d rather I just sort of… summarize everything about my life into a more palatable format, right before demanding that I spoon feed it to you because why should you have to do any work.
I mean, how do I even answer that question? I’m… good? Sure, I’m  not perfect. I’m selfish. I am wrong, I am right (I swear I’m right), swear I knew it all along and I am– no, sorry, that’s Dashboard Confessional (even though I am cleaning up SO well).
I don’t even know why we still do this to ourselves. Disinterested questions and disingenuous answers between people who still think it’s up to them to contain the vastness of humanity with the few words they use to describe both their feelings and a five dollar plate of waffles. Oh but you want an “honest” answer, don’t you. Well, honestly? I’m just surviving. Honestly I can’t stand the idea of being here, being in this so utterly average life for one second longer. Honestly I’m so obsessed with the future– the future that I know is so close it’s just short of inevitable– that sometimes I want to skip entire weeks on end just to see if it’s here yet. Honestly, you want me to “be myself” so badly but you refuse to understand that I literally literally cannot. I don’t even know if there is a “myself”. There’s just whatever self I need to be to get through each day of not being the self I want to be which is so far beyond this place and these people that I can’t actually be him until I’m that far “myself”. I know,  I know; I hear myself. I get how arrogant, how disgustingly assuming that sounds, which is why I’ve never said it out loud to anyone. Thing is, I’ve tried opening up, being “myself” to you. But then you collectively reduced me to something that could fit more easily into your little world box. Honestly, you don’t want “myself”. You’d rather have something far more convenient, someone you can look in the face and say “well you’re just the type of person who–” and then I’ll smile (“you’re right that’s soooooo me”) and we’ll both have a laugh, because aren’t stereotypes such a fun substitute for genuine human connection. No, you don’t want honest. You want my Hogwarts house, my love language, my personality type and I know it makes me a total ENTP but I just don’t get how you possibly think I could be ok with your packaging my entire being into the few words that make our friendship more convenient to you (ugh, I know, I’m such a Lorelai). You know, someday you’re going to meet someone and you’re going to want to spend the rest of your life with him. For your sake, I honestly hope you don’t think you can “figure him out” in any time period less than the rest of your life. I’m sorry, I know you weren’t looking for a lecture. You were just concerned. Forget I said anything. I’m going to bed now. Text me when you’re home safe. Bye.”

At this point he’s made his way back in front of the steps. As he ends his monologue the light immediately reverts back to the original setting. He quickly scales the steps and enters through the door. Hurt, she walks back to her car, not noticing his caring gaze through the window. End scene.

Without applause, my personal three-act play comes to a close. And I am left standing there in front of my apartment, in the exact same moment, with a choice to make.
“How are you?” She turned the conversation to me now. I paused.
“I’m fine.”

11 thoughts on “Not About Love, ch. 5: End Scene

  1. Not to say I understand how you feel, but your attempt to describe how YOU feel hit pretty close to home for me. Thanks for verbalizing my chaotic thoughts.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. It’s addictive. I panic when I don’t have the noise for company. Don’t know if it’s any better πŸ™‚ The being sleepless part is a constant.
        How’re you holding up?

        Like

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