Alana and I share a name, but we are not the same. Alana likes to talk, and I like to listen. Alana tells stories that I don’t always remember, or am not quite sure ever really happened. Alana is sure of the accuracy of her stories, while I am not quite so confident. When she is nervous or wary, she turns her fears into jokes and laughs them off pleasantly. Alana is able to make friends easily this way--she can turn most awkward moments into a joke by fluctuating her voice in just the right way. When she does this, people start to laugh before they even realize what they’re laughing at. I watch people’s faces when Alana does this, and wait to see if there’s a twinge of recognition as these faces realize that the joke wasn’t funny, and they were ultimately laughing at nothing.
I have to listen to Alana talk. A lot. It is maddening sometimes as I hear her talk about topics she knows very little about. She is so confident, so certain, that sometimes I need to interject while she’s speaking just to let her know she’s completely full of shit. I know she doesn’t like to listen to what I say because she’s afraid that one day she will wake up and I will be gone, tired of her bullshit. It’s easier for Alana to pretend that she can’t hear me, and avoid the eventual day when I will inevitably leave her. When that day comes there will be no one left in the world to listen to her mindless chatter. When I am with her, reminding her of her own bullshit, she feels comforted because she feels like she is not alone. It’s easier for her to listen to me ridicule and mock her than to listen to me and take my advisement and then one day realize that I am gone. I am hard for her to let go of because I help her feel safe from the possibility that she doesn’t actually exist. Her chatter helps to drown out those fears.
I cannot always tell who is more real, she or I. I want her to be more real than me, and to take me over and obliterate who I am, but when she tried to take the reins she lost control and quickly fell apart. I have to step in and remind her that she is alive, and she eventually remembers and tries to save face. I have watched her fall many, many times in this way. I have watched her crumble to the ground in moments when she was certain she was alone. She wasn’t alone, I am there. And I call her back to me, and remind her that she is real. When she crumbles, she listens. Maybe, one day, if she crumbles enough, she will truly listen to me. And maybe then, she will leave me completely. I will no longer hear her voice. And she will no longer know my name.