Who were you?

While her mind was idle one Wednesday morning, Marnie came to the realization that she was completely alone in the world. Not lonely, that was a different creature entirely, and she enjoyed her own company a little too much to ever feel lonely for long. She was alone. Despite her ability to effectively communicate with people and mingle socially when the occasion called for such a thing, despite the friends she had that would have come to her aid if asked, and sometimes unasked, no other person occupied space within her personal bubble.

But what was the cause? Who was to blame? Her parents? Her environment? A quick-to-judge society built on the foundation of superficial glamor? No, none of these. If truth be known, and why shouldn’t it be, the culprit was herself. It all came down to her unwillingness to assimilate. She just refused to do it.

Some long forgotten hurt in her past made her create a world where family and friends were strangers and strangers were stranger still. She was a distant friend to a select few and kin to no one, and could easily manage to be alone in a crowded room, untouched in an embrace, and unloved in a relationship. Nothing penetrated, nothing permeated,  nothing ever touched her. Nothing real, that is. She knew she could feel. This was made evident by her ability to empathize with television and movie characters, which made her wonder if perhaps life would have seemed a little more real if it came equipped with a soundtrack and the occasional laugh track.

And she would have continued on her isolated path if not for her grandmother who, on her deathbed and oblivious to the surrounding family, recounted random stories from her childhood. She stopped abruptly in mid-sentence and in a moment of seeming clarity, locked eyes with Marnie and asked, “Can you remember who you were before the world told you who you should be?”

Marnie hadn’t known the words belonged to Charles Bukowski, and with all due respect to the author, it hadn’t mattered. The only thing that was of any importance was the fact that her need for separation from the world was a lie.

Before the opinions of others mattered, she loved to play games without caring about winning or losing, to sing without worrying about being in key, dance without knowing the moves, and love wholeheartedly without fear of rejection. After being away so long, was it too late to return to those humble and innocent beginnings? Marnie had no idea, but she was determined to give it a try.