When did it all change?
One day you’re running, making mud pies with the neighbors. The next you’re playing politics on Instagram. Welcome to technology. It’s not who you are, but what you can lead on. It’s not what you think, but what brands you’re wearing. It’s not experiences you had, but the pictures you took. Excitement isn’t enough. Happiness isn’t what it use to be. Instead, everyone needs to be riddled with jealousy from your snap. They have to drool over your Instagram boat party. What happened? When did the thing that connects all of us become a vicious status imposing instrument? When did we become all blinded by the surface? Terrified of the depth?
And if you do break free? It can’t be ignored. No one can unread between the lines. You swipe through multiple pictures. Read different profiles. Sarah, Amber, Lia. All different faces, ages, outfits, likes, and dislikes. Yet they’re all strikingly similar. They cry out for the same shit. Hell, if you talk to a LIVE person. Flesh and blood. Brain and body. They want the same thing. The universe is random. We’re all frightened. We’re all alone. We crave meaning, but also to be understood. We are compelled to go on our own meaningless pilgrimages. Even though we’re surrounded by these things, blindness only shows what we think we want. And these trials? They sting but don’t burn. They leave wounds but no scar. At the end, they just make it all too concise and too clear.
Here I watch my six year old niece. Falling off the couch, while reaching for a cookie. Her eyes scanning and the brain buffers. The desk moved. The chair is rearranged. The curtains weren’t there before. All is strikingly familiar, yet undeniably different. Which cues the voice in the back of my head.
When did it all change?
“So what brought you to Dallas?”
God I hated this question. So inevitable. I’d do everything I could to divert it. Bullshit about the weather, check. Talk about Winona’s come back in Stranger Things, check. But once anyone heard my absence of the over pronunciation of a “TW” sound, it was over. Even if for some reason I walked the tightrope on my date flawlessly and stay away from saying ‘Twelve.’ I’d fuck up somewhere.
“Could you hand me my bag?”
“Wait. You said that weird. Say ‘bag’ again?”
Everything about this question is stupid. It inferred that you had to have something other than your two legs to be here. A reason. And of coarse that reason had to involve some type of monetary gain.
What did she want me to say? On the surface, it makes no sense. I moved from sunny Florida where I had it all. Friends, roommates, a lady with a great rack, a job I was killing it at, and a shitty blog with an actual “.com” name. It all happened in 6 months. Here it’s taken me 18 for the 7-11 clerk to know my name. But that’s what happens when you chase a dream. That’s what happens when you spend every last dollar because you have to know. No one realizes how much the ‘you‘ gets emphasized. Especially after the rest of it doesn’t work out.
Even as I answer, they look at me bright eyed, then switch to concerned like I’m a cancer patient. Sympathy and gleam in their eyes like that says “Ah, this is why we don’t do that huh.” I guess. Whatever I’m okay with being crazy. The weird one for going after something I wanted to do since 8th grade. I tried being happy saying ‘Welcome to Macy’s! Can I help you find anything?” I just wanted more. Always have. I have dreams, and follow them. I need help, and find answers. I don’t care where it takes me. I don’t care if I go broke. I don’t care if I don’t have any friends. I don’t care if the only thing that keeps me sane is a string of words written on the back on a napkin. At the end of it all, I just have to know.
“Just work.” I said.
“OMG I know just what you mean! I’m originally from the suburbs but they gave me so much more money to move here and I was like ‘DUH Stacy! you’d be stupid not to go'”