Ah, daydreams and fantasies. How you plague me, every time I go on a walk with the proper soundtrack playing in my ears. Every time I'm strutting through school, pretending to be somewhere else. Every time I'm mindlessly shelving books or waiting for a class to end, every time I'm home alone and I feel like doing something but I'm not sure what, and not sure what I can do...but I am sure that I can pretend. Every time I put on an outfit that contains a little bit of who I think I am--who I think I want to be. Every night when the troubles of the day are circling in my mind and I'm tired but oh so awake, so I turn to these. A movie version of my life that has yet to happen, played by an alternative version of me who looks a bit more like Anna Karina or Chuck from Pushing Daisies or some unbearably sweet and pretty Swedish darling photographed on endless fashion blogs.
An especially prevalent one, currently (yes it's all a bit ridiculous and pathetic really, but who can judge and who should really mind? This is probably just about the only place I'll ever share them. Ironic, since this is also possibly about the most public place to do so...) is so detailed and lovely in my mind that I want to capture the script, the screenplay. Maybe as evidence of the silly childish things I once longed for, maybe as evidence of idealistic dreams to be crushed by reality. Maybe just something to think about the deep psychological meaning of or just something that sounds so fun in my mind that it may even sound fun in writing.
This one, is set sometimes in the future, but not too far in the future. A few years, at most. The scene is the journalism room at my high school, the same room with the same arrangements as it had when I first stepped foot in it, freshman year. The same "punk rock" journalism and english teacher towering at the front of the room. Maybe I come in during 4th period journalism and it is brainstorming day.
I open that all familiar door and smile, and tug forward the boy behind me. I am thin and confident and look like I just stepped out of a Sartorialist photo. I'm wearing (yes, how great it is that I plan out my outfits to details in a petty fantasy..) a short black dress--a black dress with layers of floaty fabric of chiffon and silk with the proper shape to make an impact, a soft smoke cardigan with exquisite buttons and subtle details, layers of necklaces in silvers and jewels and pearls, slightly slouchy thigh-high socks in a pastel shade that suggests a faint sense of color, the sort of socks Cassie from Skins is prone towards, a creme vintage chanel quilted purse slung across the shoulder, and a pair of red red heels that demand attention. The perfect shade of lipstick. This boy, he smiles an indulgent smile and follows me. The room stares. He is impeccably dressed--another Sartorialist phantom--and incredibly beautiful.
I see my teacher and walk towards her, with that easy strut that would appear difficult with the height of the heels. She's exclaiming and complementing us on how great we look and how wonderful it is to see us. We make small talk, me speaking with such a self assured ease and sophistication that betrays what nyc is able to do. And after a few minutes of really saying nothing, I give her another smile. This not just the natural politeness but something more.
Maybe this is where I raise my eyebrows and adopt a tone that Blair of Gossip Girl would be proud of. The sort of sardonic, piercing irony and brutal honesty. I tell her, enough about me, though, I'm sure both you and I are more curious about the fate of your favorite, star student. You know, that precious beat bohemian hippie boy who you had such lovely, lovely bonding conversations and moments with. The one you were convinced would become the star--the famous author, the rich eccentric. I haven't seen him, or spoken to him in a long while. I want to know where he is, how he is now. I wonder if you know. I certainly didn't notice his name next to mine on the nyt best sellers list...but hey, that's to be expected. He's an non-conformist, never to be part of the mainstream. I didn't hear Dave Eggers drop his name on the list of aspiring writers with brilliant potential when we had lunch last weekend. My editor at the New Yorker never got any submissions or even heard anything about him. No word of a brilliant new young writer winning big prizes from the great Humboldt State University. I mean, I really wonder...your favorite student. The one whom you were so so sure was the greatest writer you've ever taught.
You know what I have heard, though. From sources, old friends, and the like...I have heard that he's quite content with his pot growing and selling mini-business at his esteemed university. I have heard that he's kicking it with old and new friends, living the life, rebelling the fuck against government hypocrisy and preaching the beauty of organic drugs. Converting budding young non-conformists into full on future life changers, just like him. I've heard that he plans on settling in Oregon and working at his favorite independent coffee shop or bookstore. In his free time, drumming for peace and smoking for understanding.
They would all be too stunned to speak. I would shrug, turn towards the door. Well, it was lovely seeing you. I just wanted to update you on my life--but no need to pay attention. After all, it's your star student, your best writer you should be focused on. I hear he's trying to self publish his deep personal memoir--the one he let you read and made you cry, back in the day? Remember that? I do too. At the time, he claimed to have wrote it for me. Who would have ever thought?
This is where I smile at my boy, who'll smile back, nod in the class's general direction. It was nice meeting you.
And, his hand on my back, we'd walk out, smiling, together.
A little episode--one that I would perhaps give so much to set in real life. Is it a misguided goal, then? My intentions are so not pure. Not art for the sake of art but for proving them wrong.
Maybe my intentions are all wrong--so much of what I want is hindered on how I'll return, one day, to the bookstore, to the high school that I spent four years hating and desperate to escape from, this city, this world. I'd give so much for the opportunity to come back and speak to these same people who would have never imagined. Treasure their reactions.
Does it matter?
Reality won't happen like this, I know. Because nothing ever works out exactly the way it does in my mind. but there will be pieces and bits, little moments that maybe give me the satisfaction and sense of fulfillment I desire. Because it's all too good to be true, and it's never that easy, and even if it is it won't happen until some time in the future. It won't happen because it's so spiteful, so pathetic...but mostly it won't happen because when it does happen, when happiness and joy isn't so difficult to grasp and I don't have to resort of make-believe to smile, when my book is sold in the same store I once worked at, I won't go back. Not to my high school, not to those halls and concrete walkways and miserable grass and dirt fields and stained benches, not to those windowless classrooms and hopeless white boards, not to look into the faces and eyes of the next generation...the next big thing. It won't happen because by then it won't matter. What they think, what they thought. I won't come back to this teacher and I won't mock her with all that I've accomplished. I think, by then, the accomplishments will be enough to speak for themselves.
And as for the boy, her star student, her best writer. Maybe I'll run into him while visiting my high school friends. Maybe we'll smile and pretend to hug and catch up. Maybe we'll be awkward strangers with a temporary lapse of pretense. Maybe I'll brush hair from my eyes and tell him: it's good to see you. Good luck with everything. Maybe I'll walk away with my boy, leaning ever so slightly in, and so obviously in love.
And maybe he'll be happier, knowing that he stuck to his precious morals and values of a life greater than the commercial affair I'll have sold myself to. Or maybe, he'll wonder where he went wrong. Maybe neither of us will notice, at all.