Everywhere I go. Every person I see. The question is always the same (you’d think I would be used to it by now) and still I have no answer. Awkward silence, as I consider what to say, yet expected to always answer the same. Rehearse it in my mind.
“How are you?” Fine. Good. Okay. The answers don’t have to vary. This is what they want to hear.
“How are you?” Good. How are you?
Just say the words, and they will leave you alone.
But I stumble over words that won’t come out. They repeat the question – perhaps I didn’t hear. Of course I heard, but what do I say? Why do they always have to ask the question, anyway?
Walking with the psychiatrist. “How are you?” Really? I am here, obviously I am NOT fine. What do you want me to say while walking down the hallway?
See someone I used to know in the library. “How are you?” or even better, “How are all your kids?” You haven’t heard. You don’t know? Six years, and still sometimes people haven’t been told. “The adoption fell through.”
“Oh! I am so sorry.” Yeah. Mind if I walk away and cry now?
“How are you?”
Sad. Broken. Restless. Dizzy. Sick. Alone. Overwhelmed.
“How are you?” “My rabbit died today.” “Oh! I am so sorry.” Why did I say that? I didn’t need to say that. Just tell him, ‘fine,’ like everyone else does.
But I can’t. I can’t lie. So either I say nothing, or I say too much.
Why do they have to ask that question, anyway?