Maybe that phrase, “Waste not, want not” isn’t a crock of shit after all, I think, as I shove a blueberry muffin followed by a ham and cheese croissant down my mouth, both of which I procured as one of the rare gifts from flying on a long journey. And I only took them with me so as not to offend the already uppity flight attendant, who was appalled I didn’t want the Twix or fruit snacks I had left behind in the box. I suppose airlines, in all their stinginess these days, really want to see some sign of gratitude for what they do give you. Anyway, as it turns out, finding food is difficult when you have mild agoraphobia and are a social retard. I can’t sleep anymore, don’t know how. I’m plagued by a racing mind and an inability to shut it off, adding to my notice of a stomach that cries out in anguish for sustenance, no matter how synthetic.
I’ve been in the same hotel in Barcelona for three days now. I go out in the day, when it’s safe. By safe I mean the streets aren’t teeming with drunk Americans, occasionally British people. The Spaniards, in fact, seem to be few and far between. I don’t know how to be alone anymore. When I was younger, it was easy, because it was my choice. As I reach the classification of old, my aloneness is no longer consensual, but rather, stems from everyone else having coupled (friends) or died (family). I am free in my prison of isolation while the others shackle themselves to emotions. My emotions are dulling by the day, but somehow a semblance of them remains to make me feel the kind of crazy I can’t shake. Like some unseen force is watching me on the hamster wheel of my life, running myself mentally ragged until I keel over from exhaustion. And it’s true, I don’t have the strength anymore the way I used to. That plucky self-determination that allowed me to so effortlessly pick myself up after disappointments. Now, when the expected letdowns come, I don’t feel surprised, but I do get the impression that someone has pummeled my stomach for an hour, a sinking sensation like I’m perpetually falling out of a plane. Ah yes, the plane. Where I spend so much of my time, yet time in planes isn’t really real. Not when you think about it. If anything, time suspends and contracts in planes, bends backwards and forwards until you don’t know what’s future and what’s past anymore. This also separates my reality from everyone else’s. When I got the job as a “brand ambassador” for a whiskey company, I was somewhat surprised. Antisocial me? How did my resume and interview personality possibly win me the position? It only hit me much later that they were drawn to my lack of ties to anything. The questions they posed all leading toward finding out a greater appraisal of me: could I be their everything all the time? Which is why they inquired, “Do you go home for holidays every year?” or “Are you willing to leave town at a moment’s notice?” I responded accordingly. My “lone wolf” status, like all true lone wolves, was present from an early age. Assessments from elementary school teachers like, “very bright, but concerned she isn’t socializing enough” would bring no end of embarrassment to my parents, who preferred to sweep it under the rug lest they feel too deeply their own shortcomings in raising me.
By the time I managed to graduate college with an unacknowledged minor in remaining perpetually fucked up to blur out the edges of my mind, my path in life remained more nebulous than ever. I only happened to come across the prospect of this position thanks to a bartender acquaintance who mentioned that the liquor company, Damascus, had extended their feelers out to him to see if he might know of anyone who would be a good fit. Naturally, he thought of his best, most promiscuous customer.
This was how I found myself always hovering above the earth, in a tin can, for approximately five years in the same position now. Still, with all that seniority, Damascus didn’t exactly spring for luxury airlines, Ryanair and Easyjet being the typical go-tos. If I was truly lucky, I would get Lufthansa, which had been the one to furnish me with the aforementioned blueberry muffin and ham and cheese croissant sandwich, vacuum sealed for God knows how long for optimal staleness. But devouring them like a rat in the dark who had just found a fix in a garbage desert, I couldn’t complain. At least these foodstuffs kept me from having to go out into the night, where invariably the sight of hordes of youths and/or couples would further cause damage to my psyche, already so fraught with the plague of insecurity and self-loathing. Spending days in bars and nights in hotels, one would think I wouldn’t be so laden with madness. But it was the aloneness. The goddamn palpability of it that can only be enhanced with being in a foreign land. I felt always as though something, someone, was missing from my life. Even though the travel element of the job was supposed to help with my search. Instead, it only augmented the problem I was originally running from: myself.
Every city felt the same after awhile, every denizen just another to ignore and look past me. My next destination, however, was the odious Paris. Everyone always going on and on about it made me all the less amenable to its overt cesspool distinction. I sat sadly at the bar, my obligation as the brand’s ambassador falling short in my inability to sustain “a personable demeanor,” as the job description outlined. The bartender asked me to repeat myself when I spoke to him, my French accent apparently not good enough for him. I repeated the standard phrase to him once more: “J’ai faim.”
Again, he stared at me like an alien, going so far as to cup his ear to his hand and say, “Mademoiselle, je ne te comprends pas.”
I’m so fucking hungry. Starved. All the time. J’ai faim. Can you understand that?