I am in my hometown. After a dozen years I am in my hometown sitting at a bar and a man takes off his mask. “Hey,” I say, and point at him. I have had a lot of wine. “You were my teacher.” “Your teacher?” he asks, and I say, “No, I had the other teacher, but you were a teacher.” “Yes,” he agrees, and does not know what else to say. I point at his daughter. “Her name is Ashley,” I say, and hate myself. She is a certain age. The age of kids who looked up to me once and now exist in the world on their own terms. The woman I am with asks for the check. We only just met; I am trying to make friends. I am in my hometown and I am drunk at a bar and I am trying to make friends and I am pointing. I want the woman to see that I know people. I want to feel like I am somebody. I tell the teacher my name but his face remains blank and he walks away. I am somebody! I want to yell, to make him reconsider. I am somebody who had a whole childhood here and then left on purpose and did interesting things. I am somebody who left and went to big cities so that I could be nobody for a while. And now I am back in this small town and isn’t it my right to be somebody again, if only at this bar, if only for the night? The teacher was not even my teacher. He has disappeared behind a door. None of this is the problem. The problem is that we had an agreement to do nothing, to be nobody, until humanity unscrewed itself. So I did nothing. But the friend I lived with before is getting married. And just today, another peed on a pregnancy test and texted a picture of a plus sign. And another has children already, three of them, a tiny bow in the brand-new baby’s hair. The problem is that it’s winter and everybody, it seems, has somebody. But it is hard to find somebody. It is hard to feel like somebody without somebody sometimes. And what does it add up to, all this trying to be somebody? Sitting at a bar in my hometown and pointing. I sign the bill and leave a tip so big they’ll remember my name.
Kelsi Lindus is a writer and filmmaker living in the Puget Sound. Her work has appeared in or is forthcoming from Autofocus, X-R-A-Y Literary Magazine, Lost Balloon Magazine, Cloves Literary, and elsewhere. She can be found online at @kelsijayne or kelsilindus.com.
image: Jade Hawk is a meat popsicle.