Monday, January 20, 2003


Wrapped up warmly in my soft, forest-green cashmere scarf and my ruby-red chenille hat I sat back in my chair at Starbucks, drinking my tall Peppermint Mocha, while watching people walk to and fro on Saturday night.

I love to watch people interact, to see how their body language affirms or belies their words. I love feeling anonymous, like a fly on the wall, and I find it amusing how no one noticed where I was or what I was doing. I felt very much like the Cheshire cat, slowly becoming invisible leaving behind only my grin.

I hid, in plain sight, under the guise of a book. I had brought it with me thinking I might sneak in a chapter or two before going to the movie but once I sat down I found the people much more interesting. My book is somewhat quiet, often odd, quite descriptive, at times requires both a bit of concentration and a suspension of reality to fully picture what the author is describing. The buzzing tenor of the mall, and admittedly my curiosity, were in direct competition so, I abandoned my book in favor of feigned sociological observation.

I was privy to snipets of conversations, to exchanged glances, sometimes smoldering, others furtive. I saw couples in love, teenagers being rambunctious and obnoxious, “gangstas” strutting so boldly they reminded me of peacocks showing off their plumes. I was reminded of my own Jr. High school days when a gaggle of giggling girls, all sparkles and pastels, walked past me, one lone girl trailing a few feet behind the others.

I sat for about 45 minutes sipping my coffee and simply enjoyed the people. I pulled back further and further from the situation and eventually all the chatter was same, sounding almost like white noise, a ringing in my ears.

Eventually I awoke from my self-imposed trance, took one last sip of the dregs of my coffee, threw my cup away and walked toward the cinema. I had purchased my ticket earlier and so walked on in and toward theater 17. I was here for Adaptation—a film I’ve been dying to see since its release. I could hardly wait for the previews to be finished.

Then something happened. Within minutes of the opening I was riveted to my seat, heart beating wildly. For during Charlie Kaufman’s stream-of-consciousness monologue at the beginning of the movie I realized I was watching myself on screen. I couldn’t believe someone had captured so fully the same type of one-sided conversations I have within my head.

I continued to watch in awe and at times in sadness knowing exactly how Charlie felt, wanting so badly to take a step forward, but feeling imprisoned within his own mind and body. The internal dialogue of self to self, rationalizing decisions and ones own timidity. Finding fault with every aspect of ones personality, body, voice, intelligence, hair, clothing, demeanor, and talent or lack thereof. Seeing myself in a hideous light thinking how no one could possibly want to be with me and completely distrusting the motives of anyone showing interest. Like Charlie, I have watched more than one opportunity pass me by because I was too scared to reach out and grab it.

Simply put, I have been an observer just as I was an observer earlier in the evening. I have been paralyzed by my own analysis, my own internal dialogue, listening to a self-deprecating voice imparting how worthless I really am.

Less simply, I am changing; the process being a rather long one. One which I am also afraid full is of the slippery slopes I have trouble traversing and occasionally, I find myself back on the observation deck. I know my metamorphosis, my adaptation, will not happen overnight and I am amenable to the occasional setback. More importantly, I am assured by recognizing my need to grow that I will not atrophy I will not be an observer forever.


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