I wanted to get out of the house to do some quality writing. Sometimes, there’s too many distractions at home. It’s too easy to space out and go two hours deep into Buzzfeed or Cracked. And it’s just so comfortable at home. It’s easy to be lazy when my bed is unmade and my cat is lying there, purring. It feels like the most right thing to do just to slip in the sheets and take a lengthy nap.
I felt the call of a coffee shop. I know it’s kind of douchey to go to a coffee shop and write but I can’t help it. They give good vibes. The atmosphere is chill and the music is mellow and it’s not as rowdy as a regular restaurant.
Unfortunately, there aren’t any available places to write in my town. There are no coffee shops or even sit-down restaurants. I have to travel at least 45 minutes away to find a place to go. I don’t like using that much gas if not necessary and plus it takes a lot of effort to go far away. To justify the lengthy ride, I usually try to stay gone all day and being gone for long periods of time tires me. But with recently decreased gas prices and an inflated level of pain pulsing through my head, it felt worth it to make that trek.
I drove to a cafe-bakery but waited until lunch time in hopes it wouldn’t be busy inside. As much as I like to get out of the house sometimes, my anxiety makes it difficult for me to be in public.
So, I stepped inside and it wasn’t too crowded. I picked up some soup and after I found a seemingly secluded place to sit, I set up my iPad for writing. Not five minutes later, a college-age girl clad in a thick hoodie and sweat pants plunked down at the table across from me.
The anxiety spiked a bit but it wasn’t too bad. “I can handle this,” I told myself. I focused on my soup and tried to relax. A few minutes later, another girl sat with the sweatpants girl. Anxiety spiked again. I turned back to my soup and tried to forget about the thoughts that sprouted from my brain.
“They are going to judge me. They are going to make fun of me. What if they Snapchat a picture of me and include some snarky comment like, ‘Look at this fat loser sitting by himself slurping soup. Lame! LULZ.'”
And then a third girl joined them. God! I wanted to leap from the table. The crazy part of my mind could feel their eyes on me even though the logical part of my mind knew they weren’t even looking my way. But I knew they would eventually. I was too awkward, too ugly, too much of a target to go unnoticed for too long. I kept glancing their way to see if they were glancing at me, which would have only made things worse if they caught me trying to catch them looking at me. Not only would I be labeled a loser, but a creep as well.
I straightened my back and tried not to get food on my mouth, tried not too look so ugly, tried not to be a target of their youthful malevolence. Put those phones down, ladies! Please don’t make a mockery of me on the Internet!
The girls weren’t even my type but I still hoped they wouldn’t find me disgusting or talk to me in any way.
I always fear that some yahoo youngster is going to walk up to me and give me some crazy line and then wait for my awkward reaction, and even worse, filming it. I’m always worried I’m going to be a Vine prank victim, which is so stupid, but I can’t help it. I’ve seen enough innocent bystanders jumped by “comedians” in desperate need of attention to know it is always a possibility.
I’m so bad at human interaction in the first place, have such a hard time carrying on a normal conversation, that I wouldn’t be able to deflect some loser teenagers with nothing better to do than to screw with strangers.
I tried to keep cool, to remind myself they weren’t even looking at me. I was but another piece of furniture. It was a feeling I’d felt most of my life. Unnoticed. It usually made me feel bad but for the moment, I was thankful for my transparency. I was in no position to be looked at, to be acknowledged.
I finished the soup and put in my ear buds to drown out their conversation. They were within earshot and rather loud so I had no choice but to hear their exchanges. What if they said something funny and I laughed? I’d be creepy again, eavesdropping. The logic inside me rolled its eyes, telling me how paranoid I was. But the paranoia was too busy being frightened to listen to reason.
This is why I can’t just be a regular person. This is why I feel so void of humanity. My head is too wrapped up in concentrating on not looking dumb that I can’t for the life of me just be normal or interesting. I psyche myself up in anticipation of being ambushed by conversation.
They eventually left and it was only then that I noticed I’d been tensing my stomach the whole time. I let out a long breath and then got up to pee. My nerves had bloated my bladder.
It’s crazy because I never once thought those girls might have looked my way for a good reason. What if they thought I was cute? Nah, couldn’t have been. They didn’t think I was cute. Maybe curious, but not cute.
With the girls gone, I was able to focus on writing. I managed to get some good stuff out until a sudden surge of more people crowded around me. I turned up my music to try to drown out the noise. Why was everyone sitting around me? It was a big place. I saw so many empty chairs waiting to be occupied. I half-expected an family with a screaming child to sit on the other side of the booth with me.
It felt hard to breathe. My shoulders tingled with anxiety and annoyance. The people got louder and it made me more nervous. I got distracted from my writing. I checked my lips for stray food, took several sips from my soda, made sure my shirt was properly pulled down over my pants so I wasn’t showing any crack. I groomed myself while they ground my gears.
Eventually they too left and I was left in a relatively empty space in which I could write. But my nerves were shot. By that time, I was worried the manager would kick me out. I had been there a little over 3 hours and he kept walking around, straightening chairs and cleaning off the tables. I didn’t want to overstay my welcome or the free Wi-Fi. Again, the logical part of me knew he probably didn’t care but the paranoid part decided it was time to leave before I was escorted out. I couldn’t concentrate on writing anymore anyway. I was spent.
Although I survived the strangers invading my space, pressing against the delicate bubble I always tried to keep surrounding me to protect myself, I could see the shell start to cave in, in danger of cracking. I had to get up and get out before I did too.