I respond, “No! I’m doing great! Thanks!”
At work I punctuate every statement with exclamation points. I’m always excited, and positive, and ready to please. As far as my boss and co-workers are aware, at any rate. On some level this feels completely false, and phony, because, let’s face it, I’m anything but positive. My general perception is that there isn’t a single problem in the world that couldn’t be solved by the zombie apocalypse.
At the same time, having lost jobs in the past for maybe being too honest, and being afraid of unemployment and the inevitable homelessness and starvation that comes along with that, I’ve trained myself to never rock the boat. To end text messages with smiley faced emoticons.
Mostly I spend the day online, reading articles on Reddit about why the world is doomed, and chatting with my ex-boyfriends who seem to be the only people I speak to on a regular basis, aside from my current amour, and of course my mom.
“Have you told your mother that you’re moving to NYC?” Bryan asks.
“It hasn’t really come up yet.” I tell him. “Anyway it’s months away, so there’s plenty of time.”
“Don’t let it be another Los Angeles.” He warns. When I moved to L. A. I put off telling my family about it until a week before I left. My mom was devastated and said, “I’ll never see you again!” (Where do you think I got my drama queen tendencies?) And every time I phoned home, which was a scheduled three times a week event, she’d be convinced that any day I’d be done in by an earthquake, riot, or gang related murder.
Instead, when she and I have our Sunday conversation, she asks if anything new is going on with me, I say, “No. Same as always.”
She says, “You’re more boring than I am.”
I do not disagree, but inside I’m certain that if she knew of even a fraction of my drunken debauchery, awkward sex-capades, or evil schemes, she’d keel over immediately due to a truth induced aneurysm. Her propensity for overreaction means that I edit out the bulk of my life when I speak to her, so I feel that she has no idea who I really am.
I feel like I compartmentalize myself so much that I’m at least three different people on any given day. The perky, people pleaser I am at work. The private, subdued person I am around my parents. And the snarky, zombie obsessed, and…well….mostly just snarky person I am around my friends.
I never really thought about this until Carlos’s parents came to visit. Seeing him interact with his family was a real eye opener. He is the same person around them as he is around me. Which is to say, slightly obnoxious, incredibly sharp witted, and sickeningly adorable. He’s even this way at work (though ever so slightly more professional). He’s all Carlos all the time. I love this about him. But I can’t help but wonder what it would take for me to reconcile the disparate parts of myself into one, slightly warped, whole?
As I type this, he sends me a text that says, “Much love from Brooklyn.” He’s vacationing on the east coast, and checking out the city. This sends me into a daydream. The two of us living in an apartment in Manhattan. Him going to school, and me making a living as a novelist. A future where I wouldn’t have to trisect myself into pieces to interact with those around me. The liberation that would come from really letting myself be…myself. But then I surrender the fantasy and turn my thoughts instead to the zombie outbreak that will lead to my inevitable world domination.