He attends a Content Marketing conference, dozing through white speakers with graphics on white backgrounds.

He stares at the neck of the woman in front of him, her hair up, grey peaking through beneath.

“You and me, baby,” he thinks, “Too old for this shit.”

He goes into the breakout session hoping for the best. But he never gets the courage to speak: I’m enjoying this, he thinks, it’s valuable.

The young woman leading the session asks “What gets in the way of great content marketing? Write it on your post it.”

He looks across the circle at the people looking across at him and wonders if he’s the only one who has the sensation that this is only one reality, and that he made a wrong choice somewhere back in his twenties.

He writes “Fear” on his postit.

Later, at the cocktail hour he drinks two drinks too many.

He hangs at the fringes of conversations, never quite engaged, until he looks around and realizes he’s the third to last person left.

(The other two are talking to each other, five feet away.)

He sets down his beer and forgets his coat.

Outside he stands in the Chicago cold, thinking “This should wake me up.”

He forgets which direction is his hotel, but walks anyway, refusing to look at his reflection in the windows of fusion cantinas and Starbucks.

“I had a coat.” He turns around but realizes he forgets which direction he’d come from.

A block later, he sees a drag queen sitting in the window of a bar, smiling, alone, martini. Over her face he sees his own, a different reality, stretching back through years to

perfect babies, perhaps beside each other in the hospital, two different journeys

The drag queen blows him a kiss. He blows one back

He’s still smiling, looking back, when he steps off the curb

Not seeing the bus.

Last thought: Who will answer all the e-mails?