To say I was dreading the dinner party would be the understatement of the century…but this is how it all ended, or maybe it’s really where it all began. After all the ending of one chapter is really just the beginning of another. And I didn’t have to like it, but I did have to turn the page and keep reading.
Change was approaching. Big change. You know change that feels like it’s going to alter your entire destiny? The change that begins with a choice. A choice that once announced cannot be taken back, cannot be altered. I checked my reflection in the mirror again. Staring at my all too familiar face. Wishing that I could swap bodies with someone. Anyone. That they would have to go to the party and stand in front of the sea of faces, that face. I swallowed. Smoothed back my hair. Took a deep breath, turned off the light, walked out the door.
I walked down a shadowy hall. Thankful that the lighting matched my mood. No need for bright florescent lights that felt like they would reveal the depths of my soul to complete strangers passing by. My feet felt like lead as I mechanically walked down a flight of stairs. Across the open lobby that felt larger than all of Asia. The effort it took to move felt like I was walking the last leg of a triathlon. My breathing was much shallower though. “Just breathe, just breathe.” Was all I could manage to think. Each step made me aware of how my feet didn’t feel attached to my legs. And how my legs were beginning to betray me too. You know that feeling in a dream when you know you are supposed to be running, but you can’t because you seem to be moving so much slower than normal? And you’re frustrated and scared, and you just want to RUN, but you can’t. That’s how I was beginning to feel.
I had made my decision though and I knew that I had to do it tonight before it was too late. Before my emotions caught up with my mind. Before my feelings betrayed me and manually overrode my brain. So I kept walking no matter how slow, no matter how excruciating. My breathing actually felt painful at this moment, my chest heavy. I took another step. I took a deep breath forcing air into my lungs. Then another. I held the second breath for a couple of seconds, let the oxygen seep into my blood stream. Took another step, so my knees wouldn’t buckle under me and end with me passing out. Just a few more steps and I would be across the “great chasm” of lobby that might as well have been the Atlantic Ocean. I wished I was the Titanic. Then I could collide with an iceberg and I would be released to the bottom of the ocean.
It was a moment in life that I wished I could die. Instead I stayed the course, reached the doors to the banquet hall, where the dinner party was set to take place, put my hand on the door handles. I took another breath. I held those handles like a life preserver. Breathing in. Breathing out. Staving off panic. Eyes closed. Chest tight. Hands trembling. Tears starting to form behind dark lashes. Then I heard that voice…I wanted to run, wanted to faint, wanted to disappear into the luxurious carpet beneath my feet. I wanted anything but to turn around and look that voice in the eyes.
All of the emotions coursing through my body made it hard to think. Hard to focus. I would rather die than face this new future I was writing in this moment. To know that I was going to be the cause of another’s pain, disappointment, rejection. It was more than I could bare and I couldn’t make myself turn around. I forced more air into my lungs, opened my eyes, and made my weighted feet turn my body towards the last chapter. After all I didn’t have to like it, I just had to turn the page and keep reading…