Now that Iím walking again every day (well, almost every day), Iím becoming aware of my public persona. I mean, I donít want to walk down the street and have people point and laugh, do I? I had quite enough of that in high school, thank you.
Itís impossible (for me, donít know about you) to walk along by myself without having a conversation in my head. But itís hard to remember to keep cool when Iím having an ongoing internal dialogue. I keep catching myself grimacing or rolling my eyes or chuckling (I do indeed have a lot of lively inner voices, thanks for noticing).
Unfortunately, I spend a lot of time arguing with people who donít exist, have never existed, and with luck never will exist. These are the imaginary folk who call me out on what Iím wearing, how my hair looks today, and why Iím not a rock star or a rocket scientist instead of an underpaid office drone (among other failings). They are second cousins to the bullies who picked on me in school, except that now I have a comeback for their taunts. Itís just that I get a little animated, which doesnít play well on the street.
Sometimes I have a lot to say to a real person whom Iíll never meet. Usually these are more one-sided (and even more animated). I might be lecturing the President of the United States or one of the hamsters in the Big Brother house, with equal intensity and conviction. Itís the one chance I have to make them listen to me, and Iím never more articulate than when I have something Iím passionate about saying. But Iím sure it looks funny to the woman pushing the stroller as I pass her on the sidewalk. Maybe the baby notices, too.
Speaking of the woman with the stroller, another line of dialogue I keep open in my head while Iím walking is with the other people in my line of sight. Iíll never really tell them what Iím thinking, but Iíll think what I think theyíre thinking, and then Iíll answer them (silently, duh). Or maybe Iíll mentally stick my foot out in front of the maniac riding his bicycle on the sidewalk and coming straight at me when thereís a bike lane two feet to his right. In my mind, he goes skidding and tumbling, and I just laugh. Then I catch myself and make sure he doesnít realize Iím laughing at him.
And of course there are the people who really are part of my life. I talk to them every day, but maybe not exactly the way I sometimes talk to some of them in my mind as Iím walking down the street. And frankly, as much as I donít like to be noticed by other pedestrians, those are the conversations that often are the hardest to conceal. Theyíre also the ones that are better off left unrecorded here.