harder and harder each day.


my poor dad, all he wanted to do was go to sleep. but i wouldn't let him. he already had his eyes closed, his head on the pillow, but of course, i wouldn't let him. "dad," i said, "what happened when you first had a panic attack?" he sat upright on the bed. he told me he was driving on the freeway, and all of a sudden, he looked up at one of the exit signs, and it was all blurry. so blurry he couldn't read it. his palms were sweaty, and he was shaking all over. "why?" he asked. "did you have one?" i said i wasn't sure. he paused for a second. and then he said, "did it feel like you were going to die?" and then i told him yes.

go back a few hours into the evening. i'm at the imax with my friend, and we're sitting in the middle of the theater. it's a sold-out screening of inception, opening night, and all of a sudden, the crowds start pouring in. i think about this irrational fear my ex-girlfriend once had, when the fire alarm went off during x-men 2. she had read some story about japanese people dying in a fire in a movie theater, and she was afraid it was going to happen to us. i get claustrophobic. my heart doesn't seem to be pumping normally. there's a skip, a dull ache, and on top of that, my palms are sweaty. my palms are almost always sweaty, but that still doesn't help matters.

i tell myself to breathe. it's this trick i have. i breathe in all the good air and i breath out all the negativity my body is capable of holding. i think about being a dad someday, and my child is standing in front of me at the checkout line in the grocery store. i don't know why this image is there, but it is, and i grasp onto it to help me get through whatever it is i'm going through. at some point during the movie, when the characters are in a dream within a dream within a dream or whatever, i start to think about the time i broke out in hives and my parents drove me to med clinic in the early morning. i think about the time i sat in the park before i went to the doctor because blood came out where blood should not have come out. i am still afraid of letting go, even though i'm already holding onto nothing.

we get back to the car, and there's a parking ticket on the windshield. it was my fault, since i parked the car without her, but before i can even admit to my mistake, she asks, "do you mind covering it?" and for some reason, this annoys me. every little thing about every friend i have begins to annoy me. it's a text message about secrets i've revealed, it's a podcast about immigration, it's a married man, it's a subtle put-down over gchat, it's the way you fucking talk, it's the way you keep letting me down, it's the way you're just like me.

that night, i told my friend i had the same feeling i had about four years ago, when i was watching the devil wears prada. i knew something was wrong, and i couldn't pay attention to the movie. and sure enough, when we got back to the car, the side of my civic was completely destroyed, hit by a stupid speeding orange cab driver. the damage itself didn't quite bother me. what bothered me more was knowing that something was wrong, that i could literally feel something wrong. i blamed sondra perl's book felt sense for giving this strange phenomenon an actual vocabulary. i don't want to have that. it fucking scares me. i just want to be beautiful and oblivious.

inception. my dad putting the idea of a panic attack in my head. my mom putting in the fear of everything in my head. "you were even afraid of frogs!" she said. i told her, what more could one expect? i grew up in the suburbs, in a terribly sterile house where we killed ants and spiders with raid. we never went camping, and the only animals i saw were on cable. i was the definition of sheltered, and the world looked like a scary ass place.

i was walking along rainier ave. in the sunshine, and i heard it loud and clear: "you'll do anything to avoid conflict, won't you?"

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