Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Imaginary Me

I run away all the time. Not in the usual way, of course. Not in the literal, real, important way that everyone pays attention to. I don't pack a little checkered knapsack and put it on a stick, then sneak out in the dead of night to brave the wilderness - just me and my dog, Lucky.

And if I did, my knapsack sandwiches would be eaten in about an hour by wild bears, and Lucky would have run off to be with a much hardier and cooler Runaway, and I'd somehow end up wandering Highway 95 without pants and wearing only one sock after about a day. So you can see why that idea would be right out, for me. I don't want random drivers filming me wandering Highway 95 in my knickers with their camera phones. Simple math, really.

But in the metaphorical sense, I run away all the time. I run away in the middle of parties. Everyone is there, standing around, chatting to each other. Some people are dancing. Most look like they're having a really fabulous time.

And then there's me, in the corner, sipping juice while imagining what it would be like to get stranded on a desert island. I run away inside my head - sometimes with extreme results.

I mean, running away to a desert island isn't all that bad. Someone could still find me. I don't have to be on a desert island forever, and even if I did, people will probably travel through time to the seventies and try to blow me up, anyway. Plus I've got this whole Dharma mystery to never actually figure out even after being there for six years.

But running away to the zombie apocalypse? Yeah, that's pretty bad, I know. That means that I've run away to a place where 99% of the human race has just been made extinct. You couldn't get more of a run away if you tried - and believe me, I have tried.

I spent most of my formative years thinking about a story idea called "what if everyone else just disappeared one day". And yeah, sometimes Bill Murray was left behind and became my lov- friend. But I don't think the presence of Bill Murray necessarily excuses me. If anything, the presence of Bill Murray probably makes things worse.

He's so weary. The way I feel sometimes, when everyone around me starts talking about the club they went to last night. It was awesome, apparently. They imbibed fluids and moved their bodies rhythmically. While I dreamt of skateboarding through shopping malls and eating burgers at the President's desk, because thirty seconds ago everyone in the world simply vanished and left me to be as weird as I want to be.

Which probably all makes me sound like a terrible anti-social malcontent, I know. But I want to be clear: it's not because I hate other people. Well, some people I hate. But most people I like and want to get along with. It's just that sometimes, I find that getting along with part hard. I worry constantly about saying the wrong thing. I am hyper aware of my own weirdness, to the point where I'll start actually pretending I went to a club last night, too, just so I don't seem too insane.

Or at least, I used to. I spent most of high school doing that - and I was good at it, too. I was good at pretending to be a real person. But gradually, over time, I started to care less and less about being a real person. The more you prove that you're succeeding at being imaginary - at being different, in truth - the less you have to care.

My imaginariness has gotten me two degrees, a career in teaching, a career in writing. My weirdness has gotten me a husband, a family, a life that I love. I don't need to lie and say I know what to do at parties, and love going to clubs. I don't need to run away.

I'm fine right here, thanks.


  1. I recognise this mindset. I think I have the same tendencies! And they've brought me at least some of the same advantages.

  2. Sometimes I suspect that most of the world hates dancing and drinking and onyl does it becasue they're trying to be "real people" whlie they're all secretly thinking I wish I could go stand in the corner next to Charlotte.

    BTW - it might be fun to start a 'wild woman of highway 95" mythology. Show up in your knickers and sock and dart into the bushes when they try to take your picture.

  3. Fulani- hooray, am not alone or too weird! Go team us!

    Kathleen - you know, I often think the exact same thing! Surely quite a few people must secretly hate it. It's so awful, sometimes.

    And don't tempt me. You know I'll do it.

  4. Your escapes are far more fascinating than those of most of the folks around you. You must be doing something right.


    (who admits to honestly loving dancing and parties, despite sometimes feeling dorkish at them, and hopes the rest of the blog will forgive her)

  5. IMO, not all parties are created equal. :) Charlotte, I think you have a lot of company (who wants a party for those who hate parties?). I never seem to get it right either, but when I'm not sipping a drink in the corner alone, I'm likely to be deep in conversation with someone who seems to think I'm picking them up/available to be whisked away to a hotel, or I collect a little circle of apparent admirers who prob. wonder how much I've had to drink. Oh well. I love this line: "My weirdness has gotten me a husband, a family, a life that I love."