Breathless

Coffee shop’s closed so I’m writing at home.  All dressed up for nothing.  A long walk through narrow paths, miniature chasms between sinking snow banks.  I can’t decide if it’s harder to walk on snow that’s been packed to ice, inevitably sliding to one side, or to walk on bare ground with my snow covers, feeling like a grade schooler taking his first few winter steps inside the over heated school house, thud clumping toward the cubies with cheeks bitten red.

I know that either one is easier than crossing the Vartan lot, the perpetually un-shovelled block that’s been for sale and been vacant for nearly thirty years, the asking price so high as to postpone buyers again and again until the sale of the property outlasted Vartan himself, the miniature mogul dead some bunch of years.  I think more than five, I think less than ten.  Either way, he’s dead but his poor property management procedures survives him.

I felt the black wind, the closing periphery made of sightless dots, crawling toward my forward view, but I refused to stop, kept marching through the crotch deep snow.  It was only a block.  I have to have enough breath for that, a single block.  Not even a big city block, not a New York block, but a Harrisburg one, two minutes across on a warmer day.  I pushed on, counted my steps to ten and then again, and over again.

I kicked through the last cliff face into empty street, stooped but still erect.  The rest of the way to the gym was unremarkable.

Crowded today.  A lot of people off work, a lot of new faces clinging to New Year’s promises.  I found a machine so I don’t begrudge the other people.

Hard work, long run.  Hard to breath, it’s always hard to breath.

Showered, dressed, boots over shoes, coat over vest over tie over shirt.  Out and aground, slipping side to side.  I’m walking slowly, two people have passed me.  That’s almost never the way it goes.  I don’t feel slow, but I’m not passing anyone, so I’m slower than normal, at the least.

Arrive and the shop’s closed.  Sister location open all weekend, bragging about such, making the walkers feel like Rear Admiral Parry for braving a soft winter’s fall, and now, after streets are cleared and more than half the sidewalks are passable, the main branch is closed.  For “the weather.”  I suppose it’ll remain closed forever, then,  I cannot recall a day in my life that didn’t have weather.

Back home, breathing hard.  Mary tells me I was wheezing in my sleep.  My insides are still tight.  I haven’t eaten but I don’t want to, the thought of putting anything in my stomach only makes me think of diminishing the space into which my lungs might expand.

Already had my allergies meds.  I take the alternates, too.  I’m still tight, hands still shaking.  The black streaks are gone but the noose in my chest hasn’t slackened.

Thursday.  I can make it to thursday.  Then’s the appointment, there’s the world of chemicals available.  Somewhere between a mechanical crank to forcible widen my airways, and a guided meditation to make me think my way to breathing steady, there’s some option that will work.  It’s been seventeen years, now.  I’m tired of holding my breath.

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