Maybe it started when I burnt my tongue that morning on my instant oatmeal. It was a known fact of who I was- a part of my identity- that I was an enthralling conversationalist. I took pride in my awkwardly charming little sense of humor, lacking yes, but that people found endearing, a Woody Allen syndrome, but with more of an effeminate losery zeal. It was all well and good until I stopped really speaking to anyone and became a bedridden recluse. On the bus home I sat and wondered, my tongue still clumsy and full-feeling from before, I wondered about my conversation (or lack thereof) over dinner. I only went for pizza with them because it seemed like the good thing to do, good for me, good for them, couldn’t hurt. But as the bus bumped and I became increasingly aware of my tongue in my mouth I had an epiphanic moment beyond that of a full stomach and a Peter Frampton song: perhaps it wasn’t that I had never met anyone quite right, perhaps it wasn’t that I had never connected with anyone so much that I felt a warm jet stream flow between our bodies, perhaps it wasn’t that no one I met was very interesting or mesmerizing or mystifying in the ways that I wanted them to be. All at once with my mitted hands placed gently atop my bursting tomatodoughcheese-filled stomach, like a rounded out helium balloon at the perfect point when it has enough air to tie up and release, I realized perhaps it had always been me.
What if what I had always thought had been completely, utterly and foolishly wrong? What if I only thought I looked natural and alluring in a French-new-wave kind of way when I smoked a cigarette? What if every ‘hilarious’ and ‘glittering’ conversation I’d ever had at night with a boy had been plainly awkward and unfulfilling? So I pushed on the bus door and pushed on through the rain, striding home, an expectant mother with miles to walk to the hospital or cavern. And as I crawled into my bed at a quarter past nine, I thought about how I’d told my Sake joke and my friends had smiled, but not laughed. I cried myself to sleep again and woke up mid-day with a pizza and self-awareness hangover worse than I had ever seen before.