Being on campus outside of class is starting to make me very nervous. If I get to the cafeteria and it’s crowded, I immediately turn around and go back to my dorm to study. But I’m a human being who needs to eat, so I’ve started pretending that I’m the only person on earth when I go out. I try not to make eye contact with anyone, the better to deny their existence altogether.

Friday night, I went to see Amour. When I walked up to the theater’s doors, I wanted to run away. People were pressed together like slices of cheese separated by the thin wax paper of their clothing. But I pretended the lobby was empty and went inside. The result was that I saw a movie I liked. That was good.

But then the other day, as I was browsing in a clothing store, my illusion was shattered. I spotted someone I knew, and if they saw me they’d surely start TALKING at my FACE, and then I couldn’t deny that they were real, and standing right in front of me. Talking. I gasped and hid behind a wall, and then went to the register and bought everything I had in my hands—two shirts and a dress—so I could get out of there ASAP. Now I have to return them, but I’m afraid I’ll see someone else I know. That was bad.

I feel like a rodent trying to scavenge and go undetected. I went through a phase like this two years ago, and before that, when I was in elementary school. Generally, something would happen that would make me feel validated and I’d stop freaking out: I’d get a part in a play or have a teacher who thought I was funny. But that validation doesn’t last forever.

There’s an episode of Sex and the City where Carrie is feeling down about being single. At the end of the episode, she gets over it. The last shot is of her sipping wine outside at a cafe. She has no buffer, like a book or a friend. She just stares at the people walking by and drinks her wine. That’s where I want to be. I just can’t tell if it’s where I’m headed. ♦