I try to live my life like a reasonable person. No, I don’t want any melodrama with my latte, thank you very much.
But part of my brain runs as if it were trying to write its own melodramatic novel.
In Bulgaria, I used to ride trams that had accordion sections connecting the compartments. When it went around corners it stretched and pulled back together. I’d sit in my seat calmly staring out the window or reading my book, but Melodrama Mind would be imagining the rubber folds tearing apart on a fast turn, and the passengers would tumble out on to the pavement, getting mangled under the wheels, and causing a massive traffic pile-up.
Melodrama Mind has survived mass murderers at the bookstore and air planes crashing into the apartment complex. When Jenna Bush lived across the street from where I worked, Melodrama Mind witnessed kidnappings and car chases (Melodrama Mind dodged out of the way as the Secret Service SUV parked outside her school sped by!).
Melodrama Mind certainly knows how to write a story about a fellow who works at the driver’s license department and who feels slighted.
So, Sunday morning, I went to meet a friend at Joe’s. I rarely go to coffee shops on Sunday, but my friend, C., and I need to go out of our way these days to see each other. I go a little early to get school work done. And on Sunday morning, surely, That Guy will not be there.
Ah. But he is.
I see him first, however, and can then keep my eyes focused on the baristas. I get my latte and go sit outside. It is going to 100 degrees soon, but I’ll sit outside to be away from That Guy. Maybe he didn’t see me.
I text C. to tell her I’m crazily sitting outside because That Guy is inside. He may not know I’m there. He probably doesn’t care any more. C. texts me back to say she is on her way.
Ordinary Mind knows That Guy is there like anyone else, possibly looking for the type of girl who goes to a coffee shop on a Sunday morning. Melodrama Mind thinks That Guy is staking the place out. Ordinary Mind knows this is vanity. It isn’t all about me.
Every time the coffee shop door opens, I bit the inside of my cheek and try to look towards the door without looking as if I’m looking. Melodrama Mind is exhausting.
I watch the parking lot for C. She lives only a few blocks away. And then I see That Guy, his bag over his shoulder, folders in his hand, looking around the corner of the building. I visibly, and quite uncool, flinch. I look away, and when I look back, he is disappearing around the corner.
Melodramatic Mind is running in circles. Ordinary Mind thinks That Guy could be looking for anyone or anything.
Both Minds realize–I can find out what kind of car That Guy drives. And I do. A sporty convertible. And there is a young woman in the car with him.
Both minds consider this could be his daughter. I know That Guy has an 18-year-old daughter. That Guy told me she’d just moved out to live with her boyfriend. Both minds consider this is a woman he’s picked up…on a Sunday morning…or a Saturday night? Then why look around the corner?
Neither mind is sure what to do with this. Ordinary Mind thinks I might have made a mistake. Maybe This Guy wasn’t That Guy at all. Melodramatic Mind thinks a girl who starts stalking her stalker would make a fun story.
Does the part of the brain that compels you to make up stories, does it sometimes take over the story of your life, adding drama and twists that maybe didn’t need to be there, but hey, the story on the page isn’t going anywhere, maybe the story that is you could instead.