I wear my costume
I learn my lines
(the vagaries of adult parlance,
the crude jargon of my peers,
the neatly trimmed Twitter posts)
Every day at school
I perfect my blocking,
knowing the minutes and seconds
between each class.
It took a while to memorize my part
stumbling over lines,
and exits, but
as the years drug on
I mastered my craft
and perfectly played the character
of my angst-filled self.
a method actor of sorts,
so engrossed in my work
I forgot I was but a performer
and lost track of my true self.
I took off my mask
only in times of intense weakness
(a lost lover or an ill-fated friendship)
or acute strength.
People fell in love
but never knew the me I saw before bed each night
(vulnerable and enthusiastic,
a book fanatic,
a superfan of StarTrek/C-Span/SonicScrewdrivers/SantaClaraVanguard)
As the years wore on, I kept the mask in place
for weeks, then months
never wavering, never faltering
never letting the curtain close,
safer somehow in my 24/7 performance
until finally diplomas were handed out and I stepped across the stage.
Then the glare of the house lights found me
naked and alone,
waiting for an ovation that will never come
until I embrace my authentic self.