When I was in the fifth grade I had a recurrent dream that I could fly. I was elated that I could soar past the bullies and the teasers. I loved that they had to look up to me in my dream. I soared in the air down Haral Place past the mailbox on my way to Stafford School. I held onto that dream. It gave me a sense of being special when I felt anything but special.
But the teasing got worse in junior high. Patty Craven howled at me as if I were a dog. She bribed a classmate to ask me out so they could laugh at me. She was cruel, but I took it. I found small ways to be unkind to others, somehow justified in my low social ranking. I wasn’t proud of my behavior. I got myself, and an accomplice, in trouble by confessing to a teacher. I couldn’t live with my guilt.
It was then that I longed to be invisible so I could hear what the popular girls said about me, but they wouldn’t know I was there. I could disappear so that I wouldn’t be inclined to emulate the bullies. I just wanted to blend in, so that my frizzy hair and my bad complexion wouldn’t make a statement. Or I didn’t want to be seen at all. But, that was not to be. Once in a while I would still dream of flying, but during the day I was an obvious target.
Being invisible seemed like the coolest super power. Casper was a friendly ghost and he was invisible. It was a nice power. Samantha and her relatives could become invisible on Bewitched. And, Jeannie from I Dream of Jeannie could vanish after some mishap. Boy, would I have loved that in school and at home before my mother punished me.
Nonetheless, like all the mortals I’ve known, I could not make myself invisible, until now. Forty-six year later, at the precipice of my 60thbirthday my wish has come true. I walk down the street and must quickly side step the person coming towards me. I look at the businessman leering at the woman in front of me while unaware of my presence. Tada, meet invisible me.
On the sidewalk I’ve had gadget-frenzied individuals run into me, shocked when they hit a person who was unseen moments prior. I can hear inappropriate conversations in ride shares because the other passengers aren’t aware that this particular unobserved person can hear their banter. I am reading my emails on the bus when two loud friends sit next to me and continue in their outside voices, as if I am not there.
These are the minor inconveniences. More than anything, being invisible has its advantages. I am no longer concerned on the days I go around with unkempt hair. My shoes are comfortable because I’m okay with someone seeing me with my walk-friendly athletic wear, understanding that most people won’t be looking at all. There’s a delightful freedom in that. Not only can I face the world with abandon, I observe the quirks of others in private. So I embrace my invisibility. Though it serves a different purpose from the wish of my 13-year-old self, I am relishing the magic of post-mid-life invisibility in the present.