I got up tonight in front of an audience, held a microphone, and told the truth.
The guys from Three Ring Binder were up there with me, half interviewing me, half inspecting me like a strange new species. A woman who admits to being afraid of people, having difficulty connecting with others, someone who feels the pain of vulnerability and is also willing to stand in front of a bunch of people and talk about it.
I don’t like people I don’t know. I just don’t. I’m wired to be suspicious of other humans. I like to observe them from a distance first, and then I’ll get into their faces and inspect them for myself. So I appreciate where Merlin and Scott were coming from. More Merlin, I guess, who called me his spirit animal.
Eddie Pepitone is my spirit animal. I admire the way that he loves himself so fiercely while hating the rest of the world. It feels infantile and true and I just love his lack of hesitation.
At the bar, I hesitated when Merlin asked me if I’ve quit drinking. “It’s not a trick question,” he said while I paused. I feel like I need to be careful with my words, because they’ve gotten me into so much trouble in the past. Even the recent past. The extremely recent past. Like twelve hours ago. I try so hard all day long at work to not say what’s on my mind. I practice that so much that it hurts my brain. My head hurts. My heart hurts. And I have a hard time code switching to the not-at-work place where I can let it all spill out.
I just want to let it all spill out.
It’s not like I work with a bunch of monsters or anything. It’s just, when I tell the truth at work, I get myself all tangled up.
Like this morning. One of the Important People at work asked me how I’m doing. And I hesitated. And she sensed something was wrong in my hesitation, so by the time I said, “Fine,” she was already digging in and wanting to know what was wrong and it’s hard to explain to Important Work People about my desire to live with integrity and follow my path and how work feels like a gerbil wheel sometimes and it weighs me down, and before I knew it I was talking about how I really just want to write my book and perform more and she was telling me that she knows someone who wrote a book this one time, and now it’s really bad and I can’t take back anything that I’ve said but I just don’t know what I’m supposed to DO, you know what I mean? Like am I supposed to just hang in there and keep doing this every day all day long and go home feeling exhausted but able to pay my bills, or do I tell the truth and step out into the strange, big, wide, unknowable future?
That’s what’s so great about the microphone. I don’t have to know the answers, I just have to say the thing. Spill.
And yeah, I quit drinking. I never liked the way it tasted very much anyway, and it usually got me pretty tangled up, too.
Sarah Elovich is a writer, performer and humorist based in Oakland, CA.