once upon a time, when i was about 16, i went to a halloween haunted house. just across the street from the junior college in my town, there was an abandoned storefront that an organization took over every year and turned into an event called, if i remember correctly, “scream in the dark.” it was legendary in my town and, finally, that year i went with my friends.

it was so popular that we had to wait, in line, for about an hour to get in. we stuck together, through the thrills and squeals and surprised starts. it was seriously fun.

at the end of the whole thing, we got separated. i distinctly remember this moment, because it was embarrassing, as you will see, but also because it seems, perhaps only now as i think back about it in a new context, like a metaphor for how i operate.

(a day when i won’t find a metaphor in my experience is probably the day that i embrace geometry as my life’s work, but that’s neither here nor there.)

the last room was completely dark, the only light coming from glow-in-the-dark paint and a stream of light from the exit door. the only purpose of this room was to get you to the exit. that’s important to know. the exit door was on the left of the last wall, the glow-in-the-dark paint creating a walkway into the wall to the right. can you picture this? the walkway was a diversion, a distraction.

i fell for it. i followed the walkway, doubting the instinct/common sense/little voice that told me that the exit was, hello, where the light was, instead trusting the rules i’d lived by. the rule is, of course, that walkways and roads get you where you want to go.

so i walked into the wall, only then realizing that the place you want to get wasn’t always connected to the road. the teenage boys who were working that room cracked up laughing at me. i don’t blame them–they must have wondered what on earth my problem was.

i didn’t get it, though i should have: sometimes, in a bizarro world you don’t recognize, the rules change.

tonight i went to/planned a small get together for my wonderful pal’s birthday. we went bowling and to steak ‘n shake. it was good fun. playing with my friends is always fun.

when we went to steak ‘n shake, we were all sitting together. our waiter was adorable and sassy, and before i realized it, i was assertive and sassy back. and saying things that i never would have said before. it was fun. i was confident, and i haven’t a clue where it came from.

as we were all leaving, i was the last to pay and my friends, who had all come in separate cars, had already left. i went up to the register, where adorable waiter and his waitery pal (who i had seen him high fiveing in the back and talking to throughout our time there) were standing. waitery pal, who was adorable too in a sort of tall, independent film, curly haired (brookem, if you’re reading this, he had a GOOD HOH), guitar-playing, scruffy way, sort of leaned on the counter by the registers as i was paying and asked me how my brownie sundae was. i don’t really know how to describe his tone, but there was something to it. something i didn’t really recognize.

i told him it was fabulous (brownie, ice cream, hot fudge, whipped cream, and a cherry. tell me how that could be ANYTHING but fabulous? that’s what i thought.) and he told me that he had had a complaint about the brownie sundae earlier and so he was just curious. all of this while leaning on the counter and making eye contact and keeping the conversation going…with that unmistakable yet indecipherable tone.

and, while i sort of avoided eye contact at some points, i played along.

the whole time?

i had really no idea what was happening.

i should say, perhaps, that i knew exactly what was happening. i had known what was happening the whole time we were there. but i talked myself out of it, over and over again, not believing what i saw.

do you see the connection?

i now live in bizarro world where the rules are totally different. i haven’t caught up yet. i don’t know how to catch up.

when you’re fat, people don’t look at you. they look at you, but they don’t see you. or if they see you, they try not to see you. they look beyond. they look inside. nothing wrong with that. i don’t mind people seeing inside. i have a blog. i’m obviously kind of okay with my innermost thoughts being on display. my inside? i feel good about it. not to be obnoxious, but i know that i am quite awesome in that regard. i’ve had practice at that.

but i’m not at all used to being seen. not just seen, but seen, appraised, and obviously appreciated. noticed. and there being a positive reaction to that noticing. it’s a language i don’t understand. it’s a perspective i’m not used to. everything seems upside down and inside out. i used to be the one that nobody saw. now i’m the one that gets singled out? i feel like i’m walking into walls still, instead of seeing the door and going towards it with confidence.

i feel like the rest of the world is seeing me in a way that i don’t see myself.

how do you get past that? will i catch up?

2 Responses to “funhouse.”

  1. love the post. and i would say you don’t need to change who you are inside, because you are being perceived differently. just be you. be comfortable in your own skin. and the confidence and assertiveness will come natural.

  2. I really, really hope that you do see yourself the way that others see you, because then you’d see a confident, beautiful, smart lady that can take the world by storm if she so desires. That’s what we all see when we read this, and I know that’s who you are inside…so fear be darned and LET IT OUT!!

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