It is not a thought, it is an energy: It starts right at the center of me, just under where my ribs meet, and swells upward through my chest, buzzing into the base of my throat. It is a mix of anticipation, possibility, fear, excitement, and nausea. It is the millisecond at the top of the high dive between the moment you’ve really committed to the jump and the moment you begin to fall. It is in me but is not me. Every time I have followed that feeling, it has led me somewhere holy.
I felt it while I wrote that essay about my mom a couple of weeks ago. When I followed it, it seemed like the words were formed somewhere else, and all I had to do was write them down.
I felt it once at Costco when a lady browsing the same giant stack of sweaters as I was answered her phone and broke down into tears and shouted at the person on the line, and I wasn’t really listening, but whatever it was seemed bad. She hung up and hung on to her cart, which held her up as her legs looked unstable, and she made a noise that wasn’t really crying but was more like gasping for air and moaning in pain at the same time. It was at that sound of grief that the feeling rose in me, and I followed it and it led me to her. She told me her son was sick, her son was mentally ill, and he’d been arrested and they were trying to find him a bed at a hospital that could treat him, and they were supposed to hold him until they found a bed but now they called and said they’d moved him to jail and she was here and not there and there was no bed yet, and he needed medication that the jail wouldn’t provide and what would happen to him there?
“Oh, God! I don’t know what to do!” She was looking at me even though she was crying out for something better. And I realized that I was saying the same thing in my head. Oh, God! I don’t know what to do! Continue reading “Be cool, brain.”