I pulled the car over to the curb across from the entry to the parking lot. There were only two cars there at this time of night, and I didnít want to be noticed. I sat in the car with a c.d. playing the songs I needed to hear. It was after midnight on a Tuesday night, late enough for most restaurants and bars to be empty, including this one.
I had gotten off work about ten thirty. I would have been done earlier, but I stalled leaving, helping bus tables in the bar, and talking to Sandi. Finally I left, and drove next door to the Holiday Inn Express. I grabbed my backpack and walked into the lobby, heading to the public restroom that I have changed in many times after work. The night auditor nodded, recognizing me even after fours months. We never spoke, but acknowledged one another as I walked in wearing my uniform, and out wearing street clothes. I took my time changing that night, slowly folding my uniform into my backpack. I drove to Norridge following the directions I had gotten online, and finally found myself sitting in the car outside the bar.
I looked down. Each item I was wearing had been carefully chosen. Earrings to fidget with when I felt nervous. My hair was down and parted to one side so I could swing it over my face. No eye shadow, but eyeliner and mascara so that my eyes seemed wider than they really were. Red lip-gloss so that I wouldnít keep licking my lips. A black sweater with sleeves long enough so that I could pull them over my hands. Finally dark blue jeans over three inch heeled black boots so that I stood at almost six foot, the extra height giving me a slight psychological advantage in my head.
I sat in the car and told myself that I didnít have to do this. I could leave right now, and no one would ever know I had been there. I thought about how quiet my life had been over the past few months. There was a sense of peace to it, but also a feeling of emptiness. Knowing that no one is going to call can be much easier than hoping someone will and then being let down. So I sat in the car and asked myself if this was what I wanted. To be honest, I didnít know. All I had to do was drive away and I could keep my peace and quiet. But if I got out of that car I might start feeling alive again.
A police officer drove by and I noticed I was sitting in a permit only part of the street. I started up the car and pulled into the parking lot. I let the song on the c.d. finish. I told myself one last time that I didnít have to do this, I could still drive away. But I knew it wasnít in me to give up that easily. For better or worse I had to go inside. He had once stepped across a kitchen, I could step through a door. I took off my coat, put the keys in my pocket and got out of the car. A few deep breathes later I pulled myself up to my full height and walked through that door.