The Choreography of Passing

I don’t know when to conceal and when to reveal. This choreography of sanity and its absence slips from my hands these days. At the convenience store: smile and make eye contact. On the subway: pretend you are a nobody like everybody else. At the office: be real but not too real. At the doctor’s appointment: reveal, reveal, reveal. If I pass too much, no one will know how much I need help. If I reveal too much, people will leave me out. The masquerade of mental fitness wears on me. I’m tired of trying to look sane, but even more tired of the times I cannot. I hold out my hand. We meet again. I clench myself like an overbite just to stop the trembling. I look like a reasonable person. Someone you would sit beside and ask about their day. Not someone who struggles to process the ordinary. I lay on the can’s, so you will accept me. For I notice how you look at me when I talk to myself in the streets. I try not to move my lips, though I think you can tell. But mostly you never guess at my abundance. Because I’m trained in the art of playing small. One day I will walk the streets without a mask, carrying on about the exquisite and the ghastly. As I open my giant umbrella and click my heels without a care. I will carry a parrot on my shoulder and wear a cape. My madness more of an intentional parade. Maybe you will join in, relieved to remove that tight sweaty mask you have been breathing out of all day. It won’t be the end of October or April Fool’s. It will be an ordinary Tuesday in July. And everyone will be talking to themselves in the street.

~ Originally appeared in filling Station 73.