Invisibility is My Unfortunate Superpower

I have had several days of terrible sleep. Instead of trying to write something coherent, I will instead share with you something I published on Medium recently.

I once wrote on my blog about my weird super powers. They were random things like having a song in my head right before I turn on the radio to find it playing and my ability to change the course of a game by posting something negative about my team. Those were fun, weird, fake powers. Unfortunately, I have another that is all too real — invisibility.

I can’t actually become physically invisible. I have the uncanny ability to be invisible and forgotten as soon as I am out of sight. I have had this power since I was a kid, but it has become more powerful as an adult.

I worked for 19 years as a jail librarian. I worked for the local library system, but I was stationed at the jail. This meant 19 years of being professionally invisible. So invisible that it was routine for the library to forget to tell me when we were closed for snow and I should stay home. The professional invisibility was hard, but I never defined myself by my job, so I lived with it.

The personal invisibility is where things started to get hard. I was visible when my kids were younger because I was a coach and I danced in the dad’s dance in my daughter’s dance recitals. As they got older I was still visible to them, but I disappeared from the collective memory of the sports and dance people I knew.

I thought I had friends pre-pandemic. I used to see people in a social setting at least once a month. They were all people I met in the library world. I left the library world mid-pandemic. I was eventually forgotten by most of the people in the library world. It was a slow fade. I was given gifts when I left. I was visited by the “cocktail fairy” during the pandemic(alcohol left on my porch). I had one in person social event after vaccination. Eventually, I faded there as well. I only see or hear from most library people if I go to the library to pick up books. Otherwise, I am invisible and forgotten.

I do volunteer work three times a week. I enjoy the work, but I’m 100% sure if I quit today everyone would forget me tomorrow.

The past nine days have made it clear how invisible I am. My air conditioning died on July 4 weekend. We were fortunate to be out of town for the eight days after it broke, but I returned last Tuesday. My wife and daughter left for LA Saturday morning. I’ve been alone in the heat since.

I have mentioned the situation in my blog and on social media. I have received one text, from my brother, checking to see how I am doing. Otherwise, crickets. Nothing from my family in LA. Nothing from the people I know locally. No one checking in. No one asking if I am OK. No one offering any fans or other temporary help. I know this isn’t the worst situation anyone has ever faced, but I know if others were in this situation they would have people checking in, giving them fans, food, and drink.

There is no one to blame but myself. I have perfected the art of invisibility over the years. I’m very good at fading into the background so much that no one notices when I’m not there. I’m very good at letting people forget me by assuming they want to forget me. I’m very good at assuming any effort to reach out would be unwelcome.

I am the invisible man and it is not fun.


7 thoughts on “Invisibility is My Unfortunate Superpower

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