Last Saturday after taking in the Sean Lennon concert, after the band left the stage, after the vodka cranberries had evaporated from the glass and into my bloodstream, I started walking towards 4th Avenue in search of more. More music, more alcohol OR sobriety. There is no in between with me. I must either find my head on a friends couch or in my car, free of the poison under my skin, making my way back home.
There is no in between.
I tucked my hands into the pockets of my black pea coat and listened to my boot heels click and echo on the pavement of an underpass I had passed under countless times in my life. By now comfortable enough in it among the vagabond street bands and the faces that blur past. I recognized one that night. He went to high school with me. A friend of a friend and then a friend of mine. We had made jokes occasionally, shared music and small talk. Our eyes met and the recognition took place awkwardly. We continued walking a few paces until the air of familiarity pulled our shoulders around and made us feel it was okay to make conversation.
"Oh my god! Hey!!"
"Hey! I thought that was you but you looked too happy to be Amanda."
"(giggling) You two are drunk aren't you?"
"Yeah, we live right up the street so why not? What are you up to?"
"Just heading to Che's. Sean Lennon just got done playing Congress. His band is out mingling on the patio right now, you should go catch 'em before they leave."
"Yeah, maybe we will! Have fun!"
And we continued on our paths. Only this time his words hung around my head.
"....you looked too happy to be Amanda."
At first I smiled to myself thinking "god, I must have really been a sad sack in high school". But he's been a friend of mine on Facebook for a couple years now. He'd seen me since high school, even on the superficial level of social networking.
Was I happy? I hadn't really asked myself that before. I just assumed I was when I was and I wasn't when I wasn't. I hadn't thought of it as an entity that could envelope ones disposition enough to be able to call it out in the dark of the night.
There is no in between.
The last six or seven years of my life have been, for lack of a better analogy, a roller coaster. Parent's divorce (after 15 years of constant fighting), recovering cutter (I had poor coping skills when it came to depression), end of a significant relationship, graduating high school, new job, new relationship, unplanned pregnancy...adulthood before 20. I hadn't thought about happiness as a thing that possessed me. I rolled on with life, hopping from one stone to the next, trying to keep my balance, avoiding the fall. I never thought twice about what my face conveyed. Whether my anger pushed people away, whether my hurt drew them in, whether my smile played an active role in my life.
The thing about being in your own world, trying to navigate it as best you can, is that sometimes you forget about the ones floating around you and what they see.
I handed my i.d. to the doorman at Che's and settled into a booth in the back. I ordered a Pepsi, there was no need for anymore alcohol. There was no need to fake it. I smiled and embraced my friends words instead of trying to understand them, analyze them.
It's nice when somebody compliments your outfit, your haircut, your family. But when somebody points out something you didn't think you were carrying with you, that's something different. Invigorating. Validating even. Free of ego and twice as rewarding.
Since last week I've carried those words with me. I found them when I was laying in the bath a day or two ago. When I rolled around the ground with Jack at the park, blowing bubbles in his hair. When I cooked. When I laughed or had something to share.
"...you looked too happy to be Amanda."
I guess I've changed. For once I'm happy about that.