I turn to face him, and a second later, his eyes meet mine.
Three years later, I am walking through the Portland airport, pre-makeover, ugly green carpet staring up at me, waiting for notice. I run into a friend of my older brother's, well, half-brother, and he asks me why I did it as he looks at my head, his question heavy with regret for me, embarrassment for me, and days later I get a call and a lecture from that same brother. He lets me know how mainstream people will see me, how they will judge me. I used to want to fuck that guy who I now surmise called my brother, concern in his voice as he described my recently balded head, right up until the moment that he looked at it with such remorse.
Fifteen years earlier, I am lying on a bed in a boys bedroom with a pillow over my head. Two boys are fondling me, talking about me like I am not there. Commenting on my hot body and my ugly face, and how great that pillow is. Sixteen years later, one of those boys dies. Twenty-five years later, the other sends me a friend request on Facebook. I decline.
As I look back, they slowly ooze together, morphing into the same man, expecting out of me what they have been taught to expect, and distressed when I am crazy with rage at not being considered as I am; a genius, an artist, and a warrior. I feel the power rise in my chest, and I know I am more than what they think they gaze upon, no matter what that is, because they are dreaming into me less than I am. They are dreaming into me someone they can manage.
Over time, I became aware that to really be seen might be dangerous, because these men, this man, only wanted to see me as simple, quiet, easy. But I am not, and more than anything, dangerous or not, I long to be seen. I long to know a person willing to sit with me long enough to see past their expectations of me. I long to know a person who will wake up out of their gaze and see me as I someday hope to be.
This is what we lose in this paradigm. This is what we miss in our quest for ideal, in our quest for beauty, ageless perfect beauty. We miss out on our humanity, on our opportunity for connection, on our chance to really see each other, to see and know ourselves.
I never minded really, that guy's eyes on my ass. Not really. What upset me more is that in his eyes, I was one of millions, instead of what I am, one in a million. Big difference.