By My Side
She inhaled heavily and exhaled with her eyes shut tight. Her hands clamped around the thin strap of her shoulder bag, her heels together, feet frozen. The fear of making the wrong decision slid from the top of her mind down through her spine and firmly bolted her to the cement flooring. She believed in making the wrong decision. It was inevitable. She would continue an ending loop of mistakes, always choosing the wrong choice.
She was four years old the first time the gears that moved her mind started to click together. It was the first of the many times she would feel great jealousy and anger. It pulsated like the numbing beating of drums.
She would remember that day and think about it as she stood just outside the threshold of the academic office.
She hated her brother and engraved it on her bones for many years. She envied her sisters and painted her face to look like them. And this too, she would remember.
I look at her. I see everything pitiful and sad within her. Jane Rheanne Andrews was my name yet I couldn’t see myself when I looked at my reflection. All I could see were images of others.
So, I stood there, wondering if I was making the right decision for me.
I took a deep breath. I breathed in the unusually warm fall air along with questions that I’d been running through my head for the past month and a half and the answers that I hadn’t come up with. I let all my confessions to my mother, to my sisters, to my brother, and to my friends, my closest friends sink their way past the colors that weren’t me.
I’d long ago carved out the hate in my bones and the jealousy from my face, but somehow, it still all felt like I was wearing a different person.
I let all the words I’d ever said stitch themselves together until I could flip through them like I was reading a novel. I saw it. The little things that were me seeped through my thin layer of clothes.
I lifted a foot, almost ready to go into that appointment.
I had a decision that I’d already convinced myself of. I take a step forward. And each step followed naturally.
The girl at the receptionist desk smiled at me. I return the gesture right before she inquires for my business.
I hadn’t talked to a person in such a long time, other than family, obviously. I had kept to myself. I locked myself in the metaphorical isolation room in my head.
I was around eight years old when I locked myself away from people and in the closet, my nanny called her bedroom. I didn’t have my own bedroom. I didn’t have my own anything. I borrowed and was given tons of hand me downs. It never truly bothered me, but it probably had, unconsciously. I was locked in that room by choice. Just the same as I did prior to the appointment.
I was good at that.
I stayed there and everyone stayed outside.
Evangeline used to tell me how difficult shutting people out was. The more you try not to be with them, the harder it is. She used to tell me a lot of things. She guided me in ways others could not- or in ways I wouldn’t let them.
I shut everyone out and I replayed her voice in my head. She was my voice of reason, my devil’s advocate when needed.
The receptionist told me to wait. I sighed with relief. I wasn’t ready. Why had I scheduled an appointment when I wasn’t ready? I started to attack myself.
Evangeline once said she could do anything as long as someone was there with her.
I thought about my family and my friends. I thought about them as a whole and as individuals. Could I do the same as long as one of them was there for me? I didn’t know the answer. Eve wasn’t there. She hadn’t been in a long time. I didn’t know how reliable her words were.
The one month and a half started the crumble just like her credibility.
Was I there to make the right decision?
If I was asking, wouldn’t that mean I wasn’t? Or just over-analyzing everything?
Thirty minutes pass. And I’ve wavered. I immediately send a text message to Jonathan*, asking vaguely if he should follow his heart of his brain, his logic. Like always, he throws back a million other possibilities. He was the only one I had gone throughout my sabbatical.
I hesitated to ask my best friends. As a group, it was scary. I opt to individually ask, but their replies don’t come fast enough.
Evangeline is still in my head, but I don’t believe her anymore. It wasn’t like I was following her advice anyway.
Laurie smiles at me and leads me to her cubicle. She asks me about my day and how my vacation from school is going. I talk to her with equal amicability. We get to business real soon and she’s lost in her own monologue. I have yet to tell her, I was confused. She talks and talks.
I’m 23, almost 24. I’ve locked myself in a room, alone with my thoughts and the voices in my head.
Jonathan stares at me. The girls, they’re not even there. I don’t understand. I don’t know what to do. No one is there, not really. And I’m lost again.
All the words from those letters, from the confessions, and from my truth disappear. I feel the hate and the jealousy. I sense the anger and the frustration building inside of me.
She reminds me how fun it was simply staring at the bulbs take root. She shows me an image of the sketches I’d been making, ones I had put away before and recently taken out. She holds my hand. And even though she was just a voice in my head, she’s the clearest thing I’d seen all day.
“Actually, Laurie, I was thinking of not continuing next quarter. I like where I am right now. It feels good.”
I would like to add; I think, as we age, we tend to think a lot about our past and what went right or what didn’t. And regrets build up. They truly do. Like in my other post, I realize that I did a lot of it to myself. Now, I wouldn’t say that I hate myself for it nor do I regret doing it to myself. I honestly don’t know how I feel about it other than embarrassment? I do wish I could’ve figured a lot of things out three years ago, five years ago, etc. It would’ve made my life easier, but life isn’t easy. We all have our journeys to go through. Still, it would have been nice to know what things I could have saved.