It started out fine. Splendid. Good humor— hilarious movie, awesome food, the freedom to shop— and then the mall. Where aggressive salespeople live, and we were so focused on avoiding the Dead Sea stall that we weren’t prepared for the Straight Styling kiosk.
I got caught.
And he treated me excellently. He was extraordinarily nice. And the deals he offered? Amazing. 50% off, plus he offered to pay $80 of it out of his very own wallet. Who the fuck even does that? I’d have likely gone for it if my mother hadn’t abandoned me to such torment, my debit card in her possession. It was all amazing. I was impressed. Also incredibly uncomfortable because I don’t know this man, he doesn’t know me, and I couldn’t grasp why he was being so kind. Why?
He owns that kiosk, he can do whatever he wants. He makes $86,000 a year, he doesn’t care about $80. He tells me this, tries to reassure me, insists that he wants to help me— but I just can’t. Because of all the people that walk by him on a daily basis, I can’t accept that I am somehow the one that he picks out from the crowd. I can’t. I don’t feel good enough. There’s nothing special about me, nothing that defining. And isn’t that sad, such self-perception?
And when I finally manage to say enough to make it clear that I won’t be buying anything, that I cannot bring myself to accept his offer, it’s like a switch— gone is the sweet tone, the pet-names, the kindness, and it’s simply: “Alright, have a nice day.”
It’s like a switch, my good day is done. I am wracked with guilt and insecurity.
I’ll be torn on the drive out of the parking lot, should I go back? Is it too late? Is he mad at me, did I hurt his feelings? This total stranger, pushy salesperson, and I am beyond concerned that he now thinks ill of me.
I’ll say—“That fucker ruined my day.”
And perhaps it’s supposed to be a joke when I say it, something to make my mother and sister laugh in the face of my ill mood, an attempt to move on… but it’s accurate. This simple exchange spirals me into solemn-faced depression because I am a chronic over-thinker and my inability to compartmentalize is blasted into full-effect. I am now thinking.
I try to justify why I don’t need the flat-iron or the hair products. I rarely style my hair anyways. Why? Because I don’t go anywhere. Why? Because I have nowhere to go. Why? Because I have no friends.
This branches off into the realization that I don’t need anything that I bought.
Why buy new clothes? I don’t go anywhere. I wear pajamas and my work uniform.
Why buy new books? They’ll sit on my shelf, unread, for weeks. Right in the massive pile of other unread books that I’ve yet to get to.
Why buy a random fucking chest? Where am I going to put it, what am I really going to put in it?
Why buy jewelry? I don’t go anywhere.
Why have I wasted my money?
It’s a terrible experience, that sudden blast of loneliness. Hopelessness.
By the time we get to the last stop, good ol’ Walmart, these thoughts have settled. I’m asked: “Do you need anything? Do you want to look at anything else?” No. I just need to stop being me.
And inevitably, this all boils further down into a litany of self-loathing. A long list of all the things I hate about myself, a long list of all the things that I will never be able to fix. And furthermore, apathy; an inability to care enough to continue pursuing a fix anyways.
All because of a simple exchange with a salesperson in the mall.
How are you going to spend my entire life just picking picking picking at everything that I have to be embarrassed about, then get mad when I’m embarrassed for someone to see it?
Very often, I believe there to be a quality of writing that I’m straining to achieve, but I just can’t quite get there. I fail miserably, and I continue to read the work of others, read words and sentences and phrases that rock me right down to my marrow and I continue to think—I want that. I want to do that. I want to piece together words and sentences and phrases of my own that will just shake someone, make their throat close up with emotion and place a weight on their chest with just how fucking intense my work is. I want that quality of writing, and I’m straining, and I don’t feel that I’m getting there. I feel myself falling short all the time, every time that I read something that I perceive to be remarkably better than anything I could produce.
—and then I realize that it is not a quality that I want to achieve. I have that. I am damn good. I just need a comfort in it. A comfort in my words, a comfort in my skin.