You say “If you need to break the scene, if you need to get my attention, just say my name. <Name> is not Sir, and Sir is not <Name>.” You nod as you say this, so assured of the dichotomy. I nod too, but not from true understanding. The convention will serve its purpose, and now is not the time for philosophical discussion, not that one. We have other things to do, things I have been looking forward to for months, things I hope that you have as well.
But the phrase sticks with me, resurfacing after we part. “<Name> is not Sir, and Sir is not <Name>.” Haunting me when the doubts start to creep in, when the euphoria fades, when I am trying my hardest to both cling to the memories and also to appear normal. “<Name> is not Sir, and Sir is not <Name>.” Chipping away at what I think I am, chipping away at my notion that I have found my tribe, chipping away at the calm, confident, exterior I present to the others, the ones with no knowledge of the inside.
“<Name> is not Sir, and Sir is not <Name>.” I have never felt this, this separation between myself and my scene-self. I don’t think I even have a scene-self, or perhaps the scene-self is all I have. Submission is with me always, and in the scene I lift the heavy curtains from its windows, let the light in, let the secret out It is ok, it is safe, they understand, at least in a way. I do not need to hide, at least not as strictly. I’ve never been that good at hiding.
I wonder if you notice this, if you see my eyes dip in your presence, this semi-bow, the most I let show in mixed company. I wonder if you hear my voice change when addressing you, softer tones, gentler diction. I wonder if you hear my quiet, if you know how I attend to your words, focused, open, receptive. Do you see the change when we are alone? Do you notice the settling, the opening?
“<Name> is not Sir, and Sir is not <Name>.” You say it seated across from me, too far to touch. You say it eye to eye, as is proper for this time, I have read. This is supposed to be a negotiation, a free agreement between equals. And yet I feel nothing more strongly than the urge to sit at your feet. Does it show? Have I not hidden it carefully enough? Did I open the curtains too widely, too early?
I hope not; that would not be fair to you. That was not what we had agreed to. This was to be something simple, ephemeral, transient, fun. I struggle with that, particularly the last. I am learning, but ever so slowly. I have wonderful teachers, guides in this lighthearted application of my deeper truth. I think I am learning. I want to learn, I desire to please them. I do see the paradox.
“<Name> is not Sir, and Sir is not <Name>.” I nod. I will try this. It sounds healthy. Necessary. “<Name> is not Kia, and Kia is not <Name>.” Kia cannot show up at the office. <Name> cannot show up at Nimhneach. I know this; perhaps the concept is not as foreign as it first felt.
“<Name> is not Kia, and Kia is not <Name>.” I will try this. It doesn’t matter which is truly me, which is more me. <Name> is me. Kia is me. But “<Name> is not Kia, and Kia is not <Name>”.