We don’t really “know” anyone. All we know is our perception, interpretation, and ideation of them.
How do I know?
I wake up to someone new every single day.
Do you ever wonder who might be in your bed in the morning? Not the person sleeping next to you. Not the person in the next room. Not even the animal diligently guarding your bedside.
Who will you be today? What will you do?
We are what we pretend to be, so we must be very careful what we pretend to be.
I met a woman once who played perfectly into a role she’d felt was given to her by other people’s perceptions. At the party where we’d met, she was silly and flirtatious, cracking jokes and acting as the court jester in a slim fitting satin sheath dress just skimming her perfect figure. She was utterly charming.
Captivated and intrigued, I’d stayed up late into the night and early into the morning talking to her as we made our way through the last bottle of cabernet sauvignon on the roof of a Lower East Side walkup. She was exhausted. Not because it was late, but because she felt as if she had finished yet another performance.
“Why do you do it?” I asked.
She gazed down into her wine glass as a chunk of her silky auburn hair fell from her bun and across her face, “It’s what they want.”
I felt a pang of sadness. I wasn’t sure if it was for her or for the fact that what she said held both so much truth and conversely, so little.
He asked what I did that day. I lied.
“I went for a run and then went to the Botanical Garden.”
He should have known I was lying. And it pleased me. It pleased me that I was testing him, but more so that he’d failed and I’d gotten away with such a farce.
The truth was I stayed in bed that day. When my internal clock went off– usually around 8:33AM, I looked to my still snoring dog who’d kept my feet warm in the cool air of late fall and to the blinds covering my window, still grey not yet illuminated by the sun. I knew it must have been raining, or at very least cloudy. What I did instead was roll over, sleep another hour and spend the rest of my day in bed eating chili, drinking wine, and crying as I watched Casablanca for the very first time.
And just as I’d hung up the phone and smiled smugly, feeling quite content, I realized the only person I had fooled was myself.