What do you see?
Some days, I cannot find the best versions of myself and I decide to be the person other people seem to see in me.
But I don’t know what you see.
I see what I am not. I see the ways in which I fail to be the length and width and breadth of who I could be. Some days I see enigmas wrapped in conundrums, a neat bow on top that bears my name because sometimes, I am present and sometimes I am presence.
Does the air change for you when I walk into the room? Do you know without looking where I am standing, how I am moving, when I am smoking? Do your lungs relax as mine contract because I have that habit of stealing the oxygen from the space I am occupying? Fire hazards aren’t always flammable.
I know the color of my eyes as I look from behind them; they are refracting prisms of emotional shifts, the clouds that form when two fronts collide, the sunbeams breaking through to call in the dawn. They are the symptom; what I feel is the cause. But you, you can only know what you can see; I know what I feel and what I feel is more vast and tempestuous than these ocular rings can hold.
But I cannot see what you do. I cannot see the ways you watch me move through the world or the storms that brew inside your gut. I cannot feel the heart shift and the rhythm change when you say my name (which name do you say, and does the name you say change with the person you see?). I cannot see what you see when you watch me biting my lip nervously. Can you see the conflicting desires dancing across the features of my face, small moves and shifts that betray the words I cannot say?
Do you see my bravado or the front? Do you see my nervousness or the projection of calm?
But more than that:
Tell me what you see when you look at me, what you feel, what your body does intuitively, without thought or concern. Tell me what I cannot know and what I most likely will not believe because I cannot see how I exist outside of me. Tell me that you want me, but tell me why. Why me? What is it in me that draws you in, that makes you feel hard inside your skin, or soft, or whatever it is you feel? Maybe tell me that too, so I know what it is you feel that I see reflecting back at me, the cause of your symptoms dancing along the planes of a face I am just starting to know how to name.
Tell me, and in telling, know that it will shatter the illusions of the world that I create to keep myself safe. Know that your perspective is discordant with mine because I cannot see what you see in me, but I try to be what others seem to see and it shifts the ways that I walk through the world. The absolute best versions of myself I can conjure do not hold a flame to that, and sometimes I want to be the person so many believe me to be, so tell me. Tell me what you see, and I will not tell you you are wrong. I will peel back my skin, pawing and digging around inside muscles and joints and organs to find pieces, messy and incomplete as they are, remnants that I can stitch together with shaking hands, a different picture than I can construct on my own.
I want to be that person, that one that so many seem to see but I look in the mirror and know the lines and shapes and planes of my face too well to look and really see so tell me. Tell me what you see because it is a truer version of me and I, I want to see myself the way someone else does, if only for just a moment.
I cannot always remember who I am or how the way I walk through the world shakes the foundations of tectonic plates, sending tremors where my feet land. So let me see what you see, something more honest and unencumbered by history, something more present, more now, more real.
Show me myself. And in there, somewhere, I will see something more of you than you could ever begin to name.