Perceptions are like plastic wrap. They give you a glimpse of what’s inside, of what you think is going on, but they never give you the whole truth. What you thought was your leftover grilled chicken could turn out to be some unidentifiable growing ground of green, and blue mold. Clinging condensation on the interior of the plastic wrap could be enough to confuse you between leftover tacos and beer cheese dip from a party one too many holidays ago. Perceptions give you an idea but perceptions, well, they aren’t everything.
Sometimes I wear that “I donated blood” sticker as if some degree of true altruism was actually behind my motives. I wear it as if I actually did it for a wounded solider or for a recovering car crash victim in a local hospital room somewhere, when really, I do it for me. I do it because lying there draining bags of my warm, deep red life source is one of the only places I allow myself to lie down with my eyes open. I do it because there I can momentarily release my fierce over self-reliance and never-resting industrious drive. I do it because it feels so good for someone in white scrubs to smile and bring me an apple juice with a carefully bent straw. Perceptions aren’t everything.
We skip stones along the still waters of comfort as if we actually want to know other people. Like when we ask how someone is doing, expecting nothing more than a one word response. As if skimming the surface actually does anything. But we always do that. We always skip stones.
But really all we want, is to be swimming. Swimming to the bottom of the last margarita where we can let go of what ails us. Weights of the world lifted in waves of salty sweetness and warm tequila. How good it feels to feel safe enough to be a semblance of our authentic self, regardless of how many sips that takes.
And as I leave the white washed walls of the blood donation center, the receptionist smiles wide, her lipstick is dark red. The right arm of my sweater is rolled up revealing a wad of cotton swabs in the crook of my elbow secured with a band of white tape. The receptionist thanks me and hands me that “I donated blood today” sticker. I smile back and press it against my grey sweater. Squinting, I step out into the late afternoon sunlight where I peel the sticker off and tuck it into my pocket. Shadows of the trees lining the parking lot create shapes that could be anything. Anything you want them to be.
Perceptions are something but perceptions aren’t everything.