I am a transparent observer. I remember in my early 20s I was assisting the Sassoon team in Kansas City and was told by the account manager that I needed to work on hiding my facial expressions. He told me “you let people know when they ask you a stupid question, try to smile more.” I’m an observer, because society isn’t ready to digest me. I’m aware of this, and truthfully, I like learning more than I like educating others, so I shut up and I listen. You’re probably wondering where this is going, as I’m not a writer but I am great at showing “discoveries” to others. Twice this week I’ve caught the “you’re dying and I’m scared/sad for you” looks and I need to explain how you’re a complete and total idiot if you do this.
Today is Thursday, which means it’s chemo day. As of lately, I’ve been picking to sit out in the open instead of in a private room when I go to the hospital. I did this for time purposes, I thought the nurses would check on me quicker and I could get in and out of the hospital faster. Today I picked a corner on the floor, where there were only 2 chemo chairs aka it was small af so I knew no one would come sit by me. A very loud woman came in eventually with a cancer patient, the loud woman was her care taker I believe. She sat in the patient’s wheelchair and talked on the phone a good portion of the time. The first few times we locked eyes, I was giving her the ‘aya you’re in public get the fuck off your phone” eyes and she kept giving me the “holy shit you look 18 and have cancer” eyes.
You can ask anyone that knows me personally, I love a good stare off. I will lock eyes with someone and not break contact until they look away. I’m used to being looked at, I have large plugs in my ears, facial piercings, and tattoos. When people blatantly stare at me, I stare back at them trying to discover what stereotype they’re painting about me. Do they think I’m artistic and creative? Do they think I worship the devil? Do they think I’m jobless and living in my parent’s basement? I can handle these looks and accusations. Do they get old and annoying? Absolutely. But I would rather someone look at me with disgust over having stretched ear lobes, than have strangers look at me like I’m already fucking dead. I can’t handle the pity stares. They make my blood boil and I want to scream “what the fuck are you looking at?” but I know I can’t, it’s not fair.
Today I tried to give this woman a break. Since we kept making eye contact, I kept coming up with a new story in my head every time. I would stare back at her thinking “maybe I remind her of someone that had cancer” or “maybe the patient beside her is terminal so she’s emotional”. When strangers look at me with pity, I wonder if it’s from some form of ptsd because they lost someone they loved to cancer. That would be the positive, somewhat naive way to try to defend them. The truth is, I shouldn’t have to tolerate the sympathy stares because your idiot self can’t figure out how to smile and not be so transparent. The Diet Pepsi you drink every day will probably kill you before my cancer kills me but I’m not giving you puppy dog dies Carol. That’s a joke, calm down. Eventually this woman asked the nurse about me, she doesn’t know I was paying attention, but I was. The ebbs and flow of this illness and how I lose faith in humanity, but then small things happen that restore it. This week? This week keeps reminding me how much humans can really be shitty.