I am soon to be back where I belong. Back in my rightful place. My correct slot. My allotted position. Where fate has destined me to be. I managed to fool myself into believing I had escaped. I had good jobs that paid reasonably well for a fake like me. I was recognized and promoted. I handled responsibility well. I worked hard. And when one job ran out for whatever the reason, I found another that even paid a little bit better. I moved up. I bought clothes. I got my hair cut and colored at a fancy salon, attended to by the owner, who was, frankly, amazing. I bought a briefcase. Bought some furniture. Some pretty things to hang on the wall. I bought a car. A new car. It was a Honda CRX. Then I bought a house. Not a fancy house, but for me…fancy. The first one was 1500 sq. ft. Adequate, livable, but poorly built. The second house was one I had built. Better quality. An 1800 sq. ft. 2-story open floor plan in a nice, new neighborhood. Then I bought another new car. This one was a Honda Prelude…with options. Power windows and doors, a moon roof, a spoiler, an alarm. And 200 horsepower. No need to make sacrifices. I could run the AC and accelerate at the same time. Got a few more pretty things to sit around; things that made me feel good when I looked at them. Then I built another house. The third house was a charm…finally got it right. A 2250 sq. ft. dream house. Made it special. Made it pretty. A dream location too. This was everything I ever wanted. This one. The one I’m leaving behind in a week. Because I have no choice. There was no third car. The Prelude is now 15 years old. Things started falling apart when my marriage ended. Piece by piece. I had nice things, a nice place to live, enough money to pay bills and to deal with emergencies when they came up. I had a partner who didn’t love me, but he offered companionship and that was better than isolation. I had a little status as a professional. Respect. No, I wasn’t rich or amazing or powerful or flashy. But I did okay. I was a reasonable facsimile of a person. When everything started crashing, it just kept crashing. Jobs lost and far too many months between them. Savings gone. Life insurance policy surrendered. 401(k) cashed in. Credit cards used to pay bills. To buy groceries. Then there were the dumb decisions. Out of control behaviors. Eating disorder. Counseling. Fighting it. Fighting the crash. And the next one. And the next one. Until there was no fight left. But the crashes just kept coming. I don’t know what I did to cause it to all come undone, but come undone, it did. I had wrapped myself in a mask, a facade. I looked fairly together from the outside. I appeared to be moderately successful. But the truth wouldn’t stay hidden. It buoyed to the surface in spite of my efforts to keep it hidden. In spite of my attempts to escape exposure. There will be no open, airy rooms, no high ceilings, no abundance of windows, no generous closet space, extra square footage that offers breathing room, no angles and arches, pewter light fixtures, ceiling fans, high grade carpet, energy-efficient furnaces, hand-picked tile, wallpaper, lots on a cul-de-sac with a greenbelt or 3 car garages…not where I’m going. I’m going back to where I belong. I will be a beggar and a borrower, lucky to have a roof of any kind over my head. I will have roughly enough unemployment to buy groceries and pay a little toward my utilities…until that runs out. I have no job and no prospects. For though I have applied to roughly 150 places in 5 different states over the last 6 weeks, I have only gotten 3 phone interviews that didn’t go any further. I see “Wal-Mart greeter” on my resume…if I’m fortunate. I am nothing. I have nothing. I’m back to being worthless and acting the part. Looking the part. Dressing the part. No more facade. I’m dung. And now, everyone clearly can see it. Even me.
A tiny voice tells me there isn’t anything wrong with being a small town girl who has to go back. But my heart is overwhelmed with shame. I didn’t make it. I’m nothing but a small town fiasco. Headed back to where I’m from. Tail tucked. Crawling back. With nothing. Worse than I was when I left, determined to never return. Because now I’m old. And I have utterly failed at everything I have touched.
I wanted to be somebody. I wanted to make a difference. To change the world. But in the end, I couldn’t even change my own path. I couldn’t even change myself.
So I’m going to the place where I belong. Where there is no job, no money, no respect. No success, no options, no prestige, no escape. There are no interesting angles. The sun doesn’t shine as much and it’s colder. There isn’t as much room. It’s more depressing. There is less hope. Not that there was ever really any hope. That was part of the illusion.
I’m trying to remember this, my last few days living in the house my illusion created. What it felt like to believe that I was someone else. Someone who could win. Someone who could be successful. Someone who could be more. Who wasn’t a nobody. So I spent the afternoon taking pictures of this place I have called home for almost 15 years. Taking pictures of the walls and ceilings, light fixtures, faucets and fans. Of the windows and the trees. The shelves and floors. I want to remember what it felt like to have hope that I could be a normal person.
It was all a delusion. The belief that I could escape. I have been running from myself. I am the one thing I can never leave behind. But I tried. Tried hard. And lost everything in the process. I started out with nothing but a will and desire to be someone. Poor, but determined. With a belief in myself and tomorrow. I am ending with nothing. Back where I belong. With no hope, no belief and no tomorrow. Empty-handed and ashamed. Exposed for the fool I was all along.
The only person I ever truly fooled was myself.