As I walked back to my car among others leaving the throbbing venue I felt full, content, invigorated. And also sad.
Tears filled my eyes and my face cracked into a broken grimace in the shadows. I felt invisible.
I imagined all the conversations being had, the thoughts being mulled. Tears spilled down my cheek in one puny trickle as I made my way beneath the street lights, the happy voices behind me receded.
I wish I could do that.
I wish I could get up on stage and share my art. I can’t play an instrument or sing, but I could share my writing, my life, my experiences and be the artist that I am for all to behold.
But I can’t.
Instead I am a secret, a closely guarded identity that only a handful know. It hurts that I can’t be all of me.
Recently I was at a professional event and we discussed our lives in relation to work in general. It’s tricky business, we all agreed. I have to cross an ocean to show my face and be myself. It’ll never happen here.
And I am crushed.
I am crushed that I have constructed a life which will never be able to reach its full potential as either Hy or me because the other holds us back.
The real life me has a professional standard to uphold and honor but Hy could endanger that. And Hy needs to share and expose herself and her art but the other me won’t let her.
I am stuck in the worst kind of purgatory of self and I don’t know what to do about it.
I have such a story to share.
Both parts of my life are dynamic sides to the same coin, each demanding special attention.
A man I met several weeks ago on Snapchat wooed me with his charm and broken heart and convinced me he was safe — he nearly had me in Vegas this very evening if it weren’t for my current and overwhelming need for distance from all men.
I told him what it is I really am and he instantly got it. “If you are found out as Hy, you won’t just face embarrassment or judgment, but you could lose your livelihood. You’d lose everything, wouldn’t you??”
Yes. Yes I would.
But it hurts keeping these two sides separate. It hurts never getting to be all of me in any part of my life. Always hiding and manipulating stories.
After the show where I laughed and cheered with deep belly-shaking howls I didn’t want to be alone. I needed to be around people and so I sat myself at a marble-top bar. Alone, but not alone.
I thought of the man who smelled like musky grass. His cologne was all natural and called something like Herbal Vibes.
“Hyacinth,” I heard a deep voice say behind me at intermission. “I thought that was you!” I didn’t know if he meant he’d thought that just then or if he’d spotted me in the crowd earlier in the night.
We hugged hello and I felt grateful I instantly remembered his name. He said he was there with Haley.
“Let me go get her!” He said with a broad smile. I wasn’t sure why he had to. She was the girl he’d fallen in love with 3 months before we met a year and a half ago and whom was his “primary” then. I’d told him I could be second to none and that had been it for us.
Haley came down, beaming. She had beautiful, glowing skin and the Millennial head-shave women of that age love to don. We shook hands warmly and then the three of us stood awkwardly.
They said they never missed this show. I wanted to tell them my life is a show.
They’re engaged now.
Good for them.
I told them I’m still allergic to relationships, and almost as if on cue she said, “It’ll happen when the time is right!” I didn’t think I’d sounded sad about my allergy.
I’m glad they’re so happy, but I couldn’t share in their joy. Seeing them get to be themselves in public together reminded me how much I don’t get the same freedom and privilege.
My friends, my family; other than the danger of strangers frivolously trying to ruin my life, do I really have anything to fear telling those who like and respect me??
Could people other than strangers know about Hy and be proud of me? Would they be supportive?
The answer is most likely yes — that couple for example — Herbal Vibes and Haley — but what if they told a friend who told a friend? That person wouldn’t give two shits about hurting me and then the dominoes would fall.
Later that night at the bar with the marble I drank overpriced Chardonnay and my vulva fell asleep on the wooden stool as I drafted this post, but at least I wasn’t alone and at least I was doing my art.
Right then. And in public. Even though no one knew. Like always.