There were various elements at play. The weather. Her work schedule. How she will feel about herself at that particular moment in time. She cannot simply commit to going. If she can say maybe, she’ll say that, but any more commitment needed and her response will be a resounding no, out of sheer necessity. It isn’t fun to be this way. To over-analyze every minute detail of every social situation ever, searching for possible dangers, real and imagined, physical and emotional. As irrational and removed from reality as it sounded to the few she had ever disclosed her anxiety to, she experienced the transverse tangible reality even more fully. Of course she’d love to go on a road trip, but she couldn’t ride in the car with other people. What if she were to get sick? She wouldn’t want to spoil their fun. And she couldn’t bear the humiliation of forcing them to stop as she ran, clutching her stomach, into a McDonald’s restroom.

It would be amazing to see a Broadway show, but one wasn’t supposed to get up during the middle of it, even if one was feeling dizzy and short of breath. And all those seats, all those levels, all those people. . .  How could the actors get in front of them all, night after night, never buckling under the immense weight of it all? It had to be that drug she had heard some concert violinist on NPR talk about using. It dulled one’s fight-or-flight instinct, heightening one’s confidence and allowed for performance on stage sans convulsing and/or vomiting out of sheer terror. Perhaps she should look into it.

But today was a respite of sorts from these thoughts. She was meeting with her book club at noon to discuss their latest pick, a kitschy YA romance about teens with powers. Not a horrible diversion, but not very good either. Yet she couldn’t beat the company. They were all so fun and understanding. And many of them, most in truth, were different. Like her, they didn’t quite fit with the rest of the crowd. But here, they shined! And last week, a new member joined. One who seemed, at first,  a bit too together for the setting. Yet she sensed a quiet sorrow-  something withheld from the world- that ate away at him. This intrigued her. She hoped he’d be there today.


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