My car smells like compost. My car smells like a car that smells like compost with fabric softener tucked under the front seats. My car smells like perfumed compost. And a little bodily fluid, maybe, because when you have kids, bodily fluid - backwash, butt, burp - is as much a given as fire of smoke.
My car smells like compost and my hair is falling out and I can't breathe, ever, but not so much that I warrant an ambulance. I'm just bent over at the waist flapping my hands and gulping and moaning UUUNNGGH GAAAWD every twenty breaths, which is about how often one of them hits the bell like BONG at a circus and my lungs inflate and get 2.6 seconds of relief. Then SLAM the vice of my chest barks NO MORE FOR YOU! and it all starts again.
Look! Popsicle stick. Apple core. Broken buckle. Those are the first three deflections that came to mind. If I were an artist I would install a modern, artful assembly of those three things and point at them and call it philosophy. I asked my brain to give me three things to wave in front of you and it shoved past all the half-devoured skeletons in my head and came back with that dusty handful. My brain needs a shower. Or I could tell you something cool. Like how I'm about to share the first of three weddings I just shot in the past couple of weeks, and about how it's nice to steep in love and hope but oh my god, LOVE AND HOPE MARATHONS HURT LIKE REAL ONES. Hobbled. And what else? That's two deadlines on the second book that I've missed now. I've never been so pale. I'm a snake about to embark on The Quickening. On the plus side, I'm still eating a shit-ton of butter. I'm one of those lazy-eyed cats who leaves prickly tongue trails on your Tatamagouche if you leave it unwrapped on the counter. What else? The lazy eye is no metaphor. I can't see my butter without my glasses and it's getting worse every day. Someone recently told me that the universe told her to tell me that everything is going to be okay. The more I try to do, the less I believe it. But I think maybe that's just a given for people who are trying to do a lot. The sky is falling all the time, you could say, which makes a falling sky the default, and really just all in our minds. Except sometimes it really is falling. Mine, anyway. Yours? Yours is all in your mind. Mine is made of concrete blocks and rusty nails UUUNNGGH GAAAWD.
My allergies went for lymphatic drainage, which is a facial massage that makes you moan involuntarily, but in the enjoyable way, and not like you're hyperventilating. And my soul walked out with spirit guides. They'd come to her while she was swishing my energy around, and then she told me what they meant. They're animals who sniff out truth, and work late at night and stand for wisdom, and who talk to the dead and give love and peace, and I'm only good at one of those things and even then only the most ordinary one, which is why I always look like a snake about to quicken, so I'm not so sure about her, and I think maybe she's in the wrong line of work. Really, for serious? Aardvark? Can't I be, like, a cheetah, or a dolphin, or one of those golden foxes with the sabreteeth and the wings and the night vision?
I left. My soul kept looking over its shoulder and there they were, an aardvark and an owl and a dove. One of them muttered as it hopped along Uhh. We're just going ... over ... there. Also. My soul collected itself into an impenetrable bundle and walked down the middle of the street with eyes in the back of its head. They climbed into the backseat of my car and we all shifted uncomfortably.
I'll do a little reiki, she'd said, and I tried not to peek out from underneath the lavender.
Is it working? I don't feel anything WAIT. I feel heat. She's all hot-handed. Heat. Oil bills. TV sucks. Like that sitcom. I can't stand sitcoms. Who watches sitcoms? I can't forget to pick up that thing on the way home. Things. My car. The kids. The engine light is on the engine light is on dammit. Exhaust. Exhausted. I have to call Daphne. Whoosh. I feel a whoosh. Her hands? Plane. Ticket to North Carolina. Drive. Nag's Head is a long way from anywhere. Hurricanes. It's almost...
You need to quiet your mind, she said. And uncross your arms and legs. You're blocking me.
My mind quieted, but only literally. From then on it whispered to itself at double-speed, all the same.
I haven't wanted to write in a way that would make you feel like you're looking through a peephole at somebody who can't breathe. So I haven't written. I'm not any more special or any more tortured than anyone else, and other people manage alright, and so my impulse is to not bring it here and make you feel like you have to illuminate it somehow. I've already done angst and panic, and for a hell of a better reason than this. Besides. I've asked this place for enough. So how about this. Pick a word in here and riff on it. Tell me about your relationship to something, tortured, cynical, loving, peaceful, or otherwise. Reiki. Butter. Exhaustion. I don't care. Just tell me something in a couple of lines, if you feel like it.