I tell myself I’m alone, not lonely, but it doesn’t work. See, I usually say that to myself when I’m sitting all alone, at home, the television tuned to…something…anything…and the stereo playing dully in the background. I am not lonely. I am alone.
I get out among people. I go for walks, through a park, down a busy city street; I buy my groceries. I rent movies and I haunt the local bookstore. I am among people, but I don’t look at them and their eyes don’t meet mine.
Invisible is what I am. Not alone. Not lonely. Invisible. There are times when, if I walk quickly enough past a mirror or shop window, that I can’t even see myself.
And I work; with people, even. And these people would tell you that I’m funny and sarcastic and nice, quiet. That’s all they could tell you, though, because they don’t really know me. I cannot allow it and I don’t understand why. Still, they say they like me because I’m funny and sarcastic. Nice.
I go to the college near the park, but I don’t stay after class. Lunch is something from a vending machine eaten in my car, with my head down. I don’t go for coffee to discuss a lecture and I don’t join study groups. I plug along on my own, no matter how difficult the class, until it gets to be too much, and then I drop out. I imagine other students come into class and see that empty chair, my chair, near the front, off to one side.
Didn’t someone used to sit there? Whose chair is that?