Oct 2011 27

by Laurelin

I have a tattoo on my arm. Well, I have a lot of tattoos on my arm, but the focal point of the whole thing is a portrait of Anne Boleyn. People always ask me, “Why her? Didn’t she get her head chopped off?” Indeed, she did. But that’s not why I have it. Back in the 16th century in England women were expected to be beautiful and ladylike at all times, they were supposed to dance, sing, stitch, and take their place next to their husbands quietly, never betraying emotion, only smiling sweetly even during the worst pain. Anne is a constant reminder of that very behavior. She changed the course of history by never allowing her king to see weakness in spirit. Even after he sentenced her to death she still kept her head high. When I want to cry, I smile sweetly and never betray my feelings. Even when my heart is breaking or when I’m terrified, no one will ever know; I know my place and it’s to never falter.

I’ve always been a fan of the phrase “fake it ’til you make it.” If you act like you know what the hell is going, on people are more likely to think that you do. This can be applied to most any area of your life — most recently for me at work; a promotion at my music club in Boston finds me off the bar and in a brand spanking new manager role which leaves me terrified daily. I have no idea what I’m doing; all these fancy bands and employees now answer to me — I have never been in charge in my life! I just fake it. Act like I know what I’m doing, and it will all fall into place and one day I won’t have to act anymore, one day I really will be this boss lady.

This mantra can be applied to relationships as well. A recent breakup (yes, I know, another one) has left me slightly damaged. I don’t know exactly where it went wrong, but somewhere during our summer in the city we lost something, and it was too far gone to be repaired. Somehow the nights of drinking hadn’t led to those talks that bring people closer together, and instead of trying to fix it, we both allowed the rope to fray until finally, something snapped. We didn’t even have time to heal; working together only a day after the breakup was like rubbing salt into an open wound. I wanted to scream in everyone’s face as I smiled sweetly and took their drink order, “Do you know what this is doing to me?!” Never once did I stumble, and neither did he.

I don’t know if it’s hard for him to see me, and I wonder if he knows that every time I smile or laugh or even talk to him that it’s all an act, every move rehearsed, planned, like a puppet on a stage. I don’t hang out at our bar as much on my nights off, but when I do, every minute spent trying not to look at him feels like an hour. Whatever guy I’m talking to might as well be speaking French, that’s how much I’m paying attention. The room is nothing but a dull roar in the background of my mind, and all I am thinking is “don’t fall.”

There’s something to be said about the way I go about things. Maybe it’s not healthy, maybe it’s avoidance, running away, a sham. Who knows? Maybe this isn’t easy on him either, and watching me just go back to my single life is equally as trying on his shot nerves. I have no way of ever knowing. All I know is that every other time I have built this wall, one day, I wake up and I’m fine. By forcing this immediate friendship I am diving headfirst into daily trauma, but I am laying the groundwork for a normal future. I have no room in my life for hate, so even if I am bursting with anger he’ll never see it.

I know one day, just like all the rest of my ex’s, I will be able to call him a friend. One day I’ll be able to look at him and not have to fake a smile that will tug at the corners of lifeless eyes. One day I will walk into my music club and not shake after I interview an employee or ask a tour manager to please pay attention and sign this contract. Maybe this is life beyond the bar scene after all, being in control and in charge of work and my emotions even though I feel like running to the bathroom in tears. Maybe this is just growing up, accepting this feeling of being scared and alone but powering though because there is no other choice but to go on, no choice but to hold your head high and conquer anything because in this life failure is not an option.


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