It makes my stomach clench, calling forth a sense of unbearable nausea, to think of those mossy stone walls. They appear well-kept, valued and historic— but the sin lay in our quiet knowledge, unbeknownst to outsiders. Hidden beneath the cracked plaster lie unfathomable depths of hushed angst, desperate pleas, unabating yearn. Frack the gravel— its pebbles mix with briny droplets of liquid longing. The quintessential Pennsylvania landscape; trees piling atop one another, a draping forest (
don’t try running away, you won’t make it far), a viridescent meadow of gentle grass. A field of tears, dents in the turf formed from lengthy phone calls— the singular connection to the realm of natural existence. The change of people, perpetually flowing in and out— the passage through eras, different periods of history. 8 weeks, 8 units, 8 contrasting vestments of power. Every morn, 4 AM; the baring of virgin eyes in pure dusk. The mortal struggle to thrust on a thin nightgown, papery and cold. Bare, gelid skin underneath; hairs sporadically stick up in minute clumps. There ensues a blurry field of vision, a desperate groping for glasses. A slew of fluorescent lights coalesce with the heavy swirlings of slumber.
And then the descent.
Agonizing dread steeps into every crevice, kafkaesque shadows lurking in the dark cardinal corners of the waiting room. The phone rings, chimes permeating throughout the array of medical spaces. Suddenly, they call your name. Steady thumps, beating upon the carpeted floor. The swift click of the door unlocking, the bustling of the weary nurse. Needles, heart monitors, plastic covering upon the seat, finger pricking… and the sharpest sting of all, the scale.
The recurrent words, endlessly repeated each morning— “Looks like your blood pressure is orthostatic! Would you like blue or orange gatorade?”
As dreadful as it was, as arduous and exacting— I owe my life to it. I owe my joy, my love, my jubilation; I am deep in the debt of life.
The people. My friends, communally sharing these experiences. Only they can understand. They have witnessed the menu rotations, they have heard the counselors gossip. I shed keen tears of unencountered emotions— their eyes absorbed, their ears paid heed. They know exposures and passes; we sang songs and practiced witchcraft. The modish pinkhouse, the droning lantern flies; brief snippets of outside humor spreading like wildfire. We premiered The Notebook in the stained ivory walls of the DLR; our friendship bracelets, artfully handcrafted in group therapies. The unending wait in the medicine line, the fear of missing appointments; our mailboxes, chock full of reminders. These individuals are intrinsically threaded in the ligatures of my veins, weaving a veiled tapestry unrevealed to any other.
And I miss them.
How can I miss these people, these brief moments of connection; and despise the environment, dreadfully repulsed by the thought of returning? Contiguous memories, speckled as stardust upon my sloping lashes. Chasmic connections, unparalleled to any other; petrifying, loathsome circumstances—
And yet, I long; and yet, I fear.