You spend almost seven dollars and seventy-seven minutes on a cup of coffee trying to remember the last time you were happy. You don’t even really drink coffee. But right now, tea is too weak, and you’re too afraid what it would say about you if you sat at the same place you were at last week alone with another drink.
I could really use a drink – now there’s a thought you too often find yourself having. This isn’t to say that you have a drinking problem. You’re actually a pretty cheap date, your friends joke a lot about how much of a lightweight you are. You don’t drink a lot, but you find yourself doing it for all the wrong reasons lately.
Isn’t there something we are all trying to drown?
(Too many things. Too many things.)
Yet, it always feels like you are the one sinking.
And it’s deeper each time someone asks you how you are and you lie through your teeth and say “I’m alright.”
And a little bit deeper when you lie to yourself: I’m alright, I’m alright.
But you had this dream, your skin unzipped on the sheets, the fire inside nowhere to be found. You were trying to take the sad bitch inside you and cut her out. Or maybe you were trying to see if your insides would look like what you felt inside. Like 2 a.m. at a church parking lot, dark, desolate, empty, too full of nothing. In your dream you wondered if your heart still beat. If you held it in your hands what would you see, what would you hear? A streetlight in a back alley, barely hanging on to what’s left, a faint humming from the light flickering.
You woke up, brushed your teeth and looked in the mirror preparing yourself to put on the face of someone who can handle this. You talked to people, came home and did your laundry, acting like it didn’t hurt to do these things. You found some peace in the minutes you sat and imagined that you didn’t exist.
Then you felt something wondering where your body would be if it was not yours.
Certainly, not cleaning a room only because you’ve run out of mugs from all the nights you’ve sought tranquility in peppermint tea. A few are stained purple. You still won’t admit how much wine you drink.
You’re at the sink washing dishes. You can do this. You think, I can do this, I’m alright.
You take a bath and try not to think about the ocean. But then, you get out and mix colors creating a cerulean to paint it. Fingers stained blue, the bitch inside you bluer, you write poetry about all the people who have drowned in it. You fall asleep imagining what it would be like to be one of them.
You wake up. You’re alright. You go on about your day. You’re alright.
Drunk, you tell your friends you’ll be right back. You sit and pee in the bathroom stall, take a deep breath, push back a tear coming out of nowhere. (You thought you were all dried up. You didn’t know your eyes could still make them.)
You’re alright. You take a shot, noticing the warmth taking a hold of you. You spend a few hours doing this and filling up the vacancy.
You don’t think about what happens when you wake up tomorrow. When the feeling, the any kind of feeling, isn’t there.
You wake up painfully sober. You go through a hangover that’s worlds apart from the kind other people get.
You listen to a playlist you made one night that you were up until 4 a.m., but end up leaving How To Disappear Completely by Radiohead on repeat.
The truth is you think about it a lot. Disappearing. This is not to say that you want to die, but there’s this sort of absence of wanting to live.
But the thing is, as much as you imagine scenarios where the ceiling collapses on you or you forget to look both ways before crossing the street, there’s this flickering inside you pulling you into still being here.
You imagine your mom, sometimes, looking for a more recent picture to put on a missing ad because you were taken from the parking garage after dark. Or sometimes you see her crying in your bedroom at home because you finally left Texas and never looked back. But then your heart aches a little. Your heart aches a lot, actually.
Doesn’t it say something that tucked beneath all the numbness there’s something alive in the sad girl inside you that can still feel?
Your mom tells you that you do not know how to be loved. You used to agree with her, but it isn’t until now that you realize you’re still here because you’re letting her.
Love. To love. To be loved.
You think a lot about disappearing. But it’s not to say that you don’t want to be here.
You think about that word. Love. And you can finally feel your heart in your rib cage again. You can feel your pulse vibrating against you. You can almost smell the blood.
You’re aching for love.
Maybe it’s not too emptied out inside you, after all.
Maybe it’s midnight in the city throbbing full of life. The lights from every building and each bar painting the night. There’s the sounds of traffic being muffled by a group of girls staggering in heels and laughing. A couple shouting mid-fight on the corner, not in rage, but in passion. Another making love, windows wide open, not bothering with who is walking below on the street.
Maybe it’s just morning on a lazy Sunday, the sun assaulting eyes through the window. A coveted book being held by hands eager to turn the page.
Or maybe it’s just a bit after sunset. Feet hot in golden sands. The wind sweeping through hair, leaving tiny goosebumps against sun-kissed skin.
Maybe it’s just standing in front of the ocean, getting close enough to feel the water on feet. Maybe it’s appreciating its beauty without thinking about drowning in it.
Maybe it’s the realization you exist. That you can slowly get back to being alive, but you never will if you’re not here. Or maybe it’s just wanting love, to love, and be loved. Maybe it’s wanting to love yourself, of wanting nothing more than to be loved by yourself. The fact that you’re hurting because you’re not there tells you everything.
Within pain itself, there’s a tiny sliver of light in the darkness. Do not lose sight of it. Because in it you can feel your heart ache, and you can feel it beat. Here comes to visit the presence of the desire to live. Hang on to it. Write about how it feels. Do not forget.
Fight against water and against pressure to come up for air.
Live for the day you can say I’m alright and mean it.