I’m Breathing, But I’m Still Suffocating

Yuris Alhumaydy / Unsplash

It’s not anything physical. In all reality my lungs are fine. It’s this town that I’m living in. This town is too small, it’s too old. It’s falling apart all around me, and with it, so is my mental state. I’m not happy here.

A place like this is a place where old people go to die. It’s a town in Upstate New York, right off the Hudson River, where the water is too dangerous to drink, and more than half the population is addicted to drugs. You see the same people every day – bums that sleep on library steps, soulless people walking the streets talking to no one in particular, not even themselves. They’re ghosts of the people they used to be.

It makes me think that maybe they were like me once upon a time. Like maybe they had dreams and aspirations, maybe they wanted to get out of this town, but never did. Maybe they never could. It probably drove them crazy. I fear I may end up like them if I don’t get out soon. Years from now I’ll be sleeping on library steps, wondering what the fuck I did wrong, and why I didn’t work harder to make things right.

I keep my head down when I’m in public, and on cooler days I put my hoodie up, and try to hide myself as much as possible. The people here have had the life drained from them, and the air outside isn’t refreshing, it’s dead. Hope drifted away a long time ago. We’re left reliving days over and over, trying to pump life back into a town that flatlined years ago.

There’s not much to do here. You go to work, you go home, and sometimes you go to one of the two bars downtown to drink away your sorrows. I would know. I’ve been to both of these bars. My therapist tells me that I shouldn’t drink, that it’s bad for someone with a mental illness. If I’m being honest, I don’t think I drink enough.

On Saturday’s the farmers market opens, and during the summer there are festivals, and a whole week dedicated to beer drinking. People leave their homes and scatter about the streets, smiling and laughing, stuffing themselves with free food. Maybe this small town is enough for them. But it isn’t for me. I can’t get stuck here.

I live a very precarious life. Constantly walking a thin line that separates me from the soulless people that walk the town streets talking to no one in particular, not even themselves. I tell myself that this won’t be forever. That one day I’ll get out, and move somewhere far away from this place; this place where hope goes to die. I’ll move somewhere that still has a heartbeat, where life still flows through the streets, like blood flowing through someone’s veins. I’ll make my dreams a reality. I’ll make things right. TC mark


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