a few days ago I was walking around in heavy, hot sunshine. I had a face that matched a special name tag that labelled me as "important" and "intimidating". I'd skip down stone steps with prepped pals to golf carts, where we'd sit on the back and zoom past excited groups of friends who'd be holding signs. I'd hop off and step into a crowd of glossy eyes and hugs and we'd all gush and babble about our mutual appreciation for each other and this weird situation. I'd talk until I couldn't see and my mouth had forgotten how to say thank you, and then walk tall in heeled sandles and enter a room blasted with air conditioning and full of sponsored snacks and coconut water, collapsing in a bean bag in the corner to recharge by staring at my knees and gripping my calves. I was used to taps on the shoulder, and spinning around to be met with a new smiling stranger and compliments. My head was still messy, but people knew me and I love that so I walked around as an open book, chatting about guilt, depression, worry, excitement, anything, everything.
Now I'm home and I'm marching in heavy brown boots up a concrete slope to the tube station. I don't make contact with glossy eyes - they are unfamiliar and tired instead, and we all brush past each other and close our coats together to shield our bodies from the wind. There are no smiles from anyone; we are all strangers. I sit on a train and spend time in my head, and at night I climb into my bed alone, sleep, wake up, make tea, work.