I'm writing this essay as part of the Week of Writing Prompts, a celebration of my first year of blogging. Click the link to find out more!
Prompt: It's time to confront something you're scared of. Take something you fear, now personify that thing and take it out to dinner. It's time for you to finally tell "that thing" how you feel. OR Imagine that you grew up in a world with only sunshine. One day you wake up and it's raining. How do you react? What are your thoughts?
There's music playing. It's soft, and quiet enough that I wonder if I'm imagining it. A sad melody wafting through the air that seems like it would be great to cry to. I tense up, and then brush it off as I prepare for my date.
Well, it's not a date per se. I'm meeting someone for dinner who, If I'm being honest, I despise. I just don't like the way she makes me feel. Like I'm always competing or like I always have something to prove to her. But we've been friends for a long time, and it's too late now to address my feelings with her. It's simply been going on too long. Years of her making me feel this way, and I've just grown to accept it. I'll meet her for dinner, spend a few hours with her, and then I'll be out of there.
She makes me nervous. I don't know how she does it, but she can make things that are normally so average just, I don't know, terrifying? Is that the word? Like this dinner for instance. We're going someplace I've never been, and I can already feel myself getting worried about where I'm going to find parking. Will the restaurant have options of food I can eat? I don't want to cause a scene or seem picky.
I'm getting dressed, but what should I wear? Anything too fancy and she'll make a comment about it, but if I dress down she'll also have something to say. I pick an outfit that I've worn many times before, it's fool proof and I feel comfortable in it. One less thing to worry about.
I hear the music start to fade. I'm feeling a little better now. There's really nothing to worry about, it's just dinner. It will be over soon. I grab my keys and head for my car.
When I finally arrive at the restaurant I can see that she hasn't arrived yet. I grab a seat at the bar for the two of us and fiddle with my phone to make myself appear busy. I order a sparkling water and wait.
I can hear that music again. Where is it coming from? I look up and see her walking in, and I feel darkness in the pit of my stomach. She's all smiles, gleaming really. She's always had this confidence about her that I admire. How does she do it? She sits down across from me and motions toward my glass.
"Starting without me?", she asks. I cringe. It was rude of me not to think of her.
"I didn't know what you wanted, and they just dropped it off. I'm sure the waiter will be back soon." I say, trying to make up for it.
"What'd you get anyway?" A question that she knows the answer to. I get the same thing every time. I don't drink anymore, haven't for about two years, but this line of questioning is familiar.
"Sparkling water. My favorite!" I respond, trying to quickly move to the next topic.
"You should have a drink tonight! Come on! You're so boring now, just have a glass of wine. How are you ever gonna meet a guy if you don't go out for drinks ever?"
We have this conversation a lot. It's chaotic, and touches on so many things. It bothers me that she makes me doubt myself. Maybe I am boring now. Maybe that is why I haven't been out on a proper date in 6 months. I need to steer the conversation away from myself.
"What were you up to today? Where'd you come from?" I ask.
"Well that's a weird way to ask that," She starts " but if you must know I've been packing for a trip all day. I'm traveling to Europe for the summer, I just need to get out of this place."
I feel uneasy. My question was straight forward, and she gave an honest answer. But my wording was weird. Now that I think about it, I don't know much about her at all. I don't know where she came from, or how she got into my life. She's just always been there, keeping me from getting to excited. Helping me prepare for the worst. I see her talking still, her mouth moving but I can't hear the words. That music is too loud, it's crowding out my thoughts and clouding my vision. Suddenly I stand up, startling her.
"What in the world are you doing?" She asks, her tone is judgemental.
"I need some air." I reply, and I grab my sparkling water. I don't go towards the exit though, instead I look for the restrooms. My heart is racing now, and that awful sad music feels like it's surrounding me. I push past other tables and bump into someone. I look over to apologize and I see he has worry on his face. I manage to force out a question, "restrooms?" and he points me in the right direction.
Once I finally make it into the ladies room I run for a stall and fold the seat down. I sit, and brace myself. It's loud in here, and my skin feels like it's on fire. I put my hand on my chest and feel all sorts of commotion. A heart that is pumping so fast it might burst, lungs that are so tight they might just shut down forever. My breath is getting shorter and I clutch onto my glass of water as a way to ground myself.
I know this feeling. And I know it will be over soon. I just need to get through it. I close my eyes and bow my head. Waiting for this feeling to pass...
It's okay now. I open my eyes and let out the breath I'd been holding. I press my head against the wall of the stall, and feel the cold metal on my temples. The air around me is cool and quiet. I step out of the stall and face myself in the mirror. My eyes are red, and I have tear stains all down my cheeks. When was I crying? I splash some water on my face and reapply some powder to counter act the redness. It's time to go back out.
I arrive back at our table and I can feel her eyes burning into me. " What the hell was that? Are you okay?" She asks, sounding concerned.
"It's fine." I reply. I just want this night to be over.
"You really need to relax, Josie. You're always so wound up. Stop drinking so much coffee, start working out or something."
I'm so tired, no energy left to deal with her. Of course I know I'm tense, high strung. I've tried to change it, but all I can do right now is manage it. It doesn't help that she's always around, finding the things I'm most self conscious about and making me question myself. I don't even know why we're friends. She speaks again,
"Maybe you should have a glass of wine to help you relax."
That's it. I stand up again, this time for myself. I look deep into her eyes and forcefully say, "No thank you." I grab my keys and head for the door, leaving her alone at the table.
In the car on the way back to my place, I hear music again. It's a different melody, sweeter and bubblier. I like it, and I tap my hands on the wheel in support of it. I feel better now, like I'm heading in a new direction. I feel free, happy.
Once I'm back in my apartment I'm filled with a second wind. I tidy up the kitchen, a smile on my face. I take a warm shower and tuck myself into bed. I can breathe now. I'm safe here. I place my phone on the pillow next to me, and reach to turn out the light. As I'm falling asleep I feel my phone vibrate, so I flip it over to check the screen. It's a text message, from her.
"Can't wait to see you tomorrow :)"