Tell Me a Story

I sit on the couch at the book launch, a glass of champagne in my hand. My feet hurt, I’m still toughening them up to the wearing of high heels. I love the way they look, I love how they make me feel more feminine, yes I know all the reasons not to, but that is a topic for another time. I must admit that after a few hours of standing, my toes begin to object. Such was the case that evening.
Settling down into the soft leather with an audible sigh. I look to the jovial roomful of souls around me. The change in perspective and the sudden disappearance of my discomfort frees my mind to wander. I wonder what their lives are like what brought them here, what connections do they have to the author and to each other?
I imagine I know them, creating a history of their lives, based solely on the expressions on their faces. Do they laugh easily? Do they seem distant? or preoccupied perhaps with a great burden. I fill in the blanks creating their world, an imaginary snapshot of friends, career, and family. Does their voice suggest an accent that might provide insight? What do their clothes say? Each attribute I take notice of suggests another. Soon the realization of how many pieces we are each made of, both large and small begins to insist that my curiosity be satisfied. Imagination is an enjoyable exercise but the truth is that most people have stories that would rival the most vivid imagination and yet leave no visible clues.
I rise from my leather sanctuary, the pain in my toes reminding me that there will always be a price to pay for curiosity. Into the swirling crowd I go, the myriad conversations contribute to an air of mass confusion, the sound level of which makes it hard to capture anything but briefest of snippets.
The only solution is to pick a likely soul and start a conversation.
In my former life I was always so afraid of what the response to an unsolicited overture would be. I have found in my new life that such fear is unfounded and an open countenance and a warm smile are almost always returned in kind. So it is that I speak to a young woman that I had observed from across the room. She seems interesting and animated in her conversations with some of the other party goers, and her energy draws me in. I say hello. Our conversation takes the expected arc, how do you know the author, have you read her book yet?
She is a yoga teacher, still just a child by my standards, yet as we speak it becomes apparent that the life I imagined for her, as I sat on the couch and watched from afar only moments before is so different from the reality. I had assumed that she must be happy, she’s young, she is beautiful, what more could she ask for?
But..just below the surface, hidden from the casual view, lie all the scars of a life, if not filled with pain, certainly visited by those demons. The ones that leave angry red scars on your wrist and a desire to drink yourself into complacency. She shared her love of being feminine and that she could never seem to get enough time at the makeup counter. We talked of her passion for writing and the 60,000 words she will put to paper in the next 30 days, of her plans to live in Japan; but she also spoke of the way she is treated by the men she interacts with, the resentment at their shallowness and the way, that they are all so dismissive of her qualities except her tall lithesome yoga teacher’s body.
The smile is a result of a couple of glasses of wine and the scars remain hidden beneath the long sleeves.
It has become a truth in my reaching out to those I don’t know; that most people are inclined to wear those long sleeves and keep a symbolic glass of wine at their elbow.

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