The man brushed by me, then disappeared in the crowd. At the time, I didn’t know he had stolen my identity. It was only later that I felt around for my love of Crunchy Cheetos and discovered it was missing. My need to wear bright clothing was also taken. As were my love for mystery novels, Scrabble, and pug-face cats.

My facial features blurred. People I knew had a hard time placing me. “You’re the grocery checker, right?” asked my mother. My best friend passed me on the sidewalk without a second glance.

My tattoos faded. My fingerprint whorls retracted, until my fingers were completely smooth at the tips, making it slightly harder to grip drinking glasses. My toe prints disappeared, as did the pattern of my irises.

With more time, something seemed to fade within me. I wondered, with horror, was my very DNA withering? I tried not to think about it, and succeeded, because my tendency to obsess about small things had also been stolen.

Ironically, now that my original, easily distractible identity was gone, a sort of determination emerged. My identity was out there somewhere. To get it back, I only had to find myself.

And thus, I set out on a trip across America, wearing bell bottoms and a headband as a tribute to an era when finding oneself was almost a required rite of passage. I headed east out of Seattle, Washington, and had only gotten as far as Portland, Oregon (note: my excellent sense of direction had been taken as well), when I saw my former identity standing in line at a McDonald’s, unable to decide what to order.

I have to admit, I was quite taken aback at the sight of myself. Was that squirrelly looking, wimp-willed, fast-food junkie really me? It would have been easy to reach out and take my identity back, but couldn’t do it. I’d gotten used to myself without it.

Leaving my stolen identity back at that haven of capitalism, I continued east to Hawaii (I continue to rely on my poor sense of direction, even when all evidence indicates I should do otherwise). There, in the moist tropical climate, where things grow with a profusion, I continued to cultivate a new identity, and guarded it much more carefully than I had the previous one.

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