1443 that was my number. Now that I had the correct one I could go find my seat. I’d been impatiently waiting outside until this point. My friend Grace and I accidentally switched our tags and she’d been inside with mine and they wouldn’t let me in with hers. So I’d called her. “Grace, you have my badge.”
“You have my badge. I can’t get in without it. Can you bring it out to me?”
“Oh! Oh my god. I’m sorry! I don’t know how that happened,” she wondered, typically baffled by the mix-up. “I’ll be right there.”
She paused a beat as if to hang up and then said “Why won’t they just let you in?”
“I don’t know. I thought I could explain what happened to them too and they’d let me in, but this fucking guy won’t.”
“Ok, be right there.” And she hung up and I stepped back from the entrance to wait. Trying to be patient, but I’m not really.
1443. Walking down the aisle now with my correct badge, following Grace’s instructions on where to find my seat, I got to the row only to discover that with the wrong badge she had also been sitting in the wrong seat. Jesus, that girl is suuuuuuuch a blond. Annoying.
1443 and I’m at aisle 19. How did she even confuse that? I don’t know. Looking up from my badge I scan around the huge auditorium. 18 over there. section 88. Wait? Section 88 is that supposed to be my section? Shit. I’m lost.
I walk up the ramp to the second level and clammor down the stairs to row 14. Not there. Stops at row 15. Shit shit shit. I have to go back down.
I maneuver back through the crowd around the arena, starting to feel frantic as I rub shoulders, dodge slow walkers and weave through groups that seem impenetrable.
I’m closer to the front now. This is where my chair is supposed to be. Maybe? I’m not as smart as these people. I mean, I wasn’t at the top of the class. Or, I didn’t get the highest score. I can’t remember now why I’m not supposed to be exactly here, but maybe near here? How are we all organized again? The red metal partition between this section and the rest of the seating is disconcerting, obtrusive and strangely out of place. It draws an unquestionable separation between this section and the others. Why? I run my hand along it briefly as I rush down the row, aisle after aisle toward the middle. It has a rusty smell and it stains my hands.
I’m behind the platform now, and feeling desperate to just find my seat. To find my place. So many many places to sit. So many of them already filled. The constant buzz of the growing crowd is dense and stifling. Should I ask someone? Will they help me? I don’t think so. So I walk down to the center, through the middle until everyone around me, all the chairs in the arena are exactly the same distance from me. The eye of the storm, and this is not where I belong. I know it. It feels like vines are tightening around my chest. Where is my place?? Where do I fit? Why can’t I just find my seat? It’s not that hard but the auditorium, the arena, the Colosseum is swallowing me. Nothing makes sense. Nothing is where it’s supposed to be. The numbers aren’t right. Shit, they are about to start I’m standing here like an idiot. I’m spinning and running and searching and scared.
I wake up in darkness. A comforting hum from the fan motor on the desk. I can hear the world rousing. The anxiety lingers, though. I dwell on it. And lay there listening. I didn’t find my seat. 1443. 88. 19. Do the numbers mean something? I try to inhale. Chest is still tight. Maybe I should play the lottery with them? Wouldn’t that make a great story. I smile slightly and let my legs stretch under the covers. I exhale, a little better, but still uneasy. The memory of the anxiety, the desperation of being lost, the frustration that I couldn’t find what I was looking for. It stays with me.
Ok, Dreamer, you feel lost. You haven’t found your place. You don’t feel like you fit yet. Write about it.