Friday, February 08, 2008

Take My Breath Away
(Here's the follow up to Two Sides from our Brooklyn friend's bad break up. )

I remember in the 80’s when aerobic exercise was all the rage and the song, “Take My Breath Away” by the band Berlin was popular. A comedian was telling a story about a friend who suggested that he take up aerobic exercise, and the comedian’s response was “why would I want to do something where I have to be reminded to breathe?” It’s kind of funny when you put it that way. Particularly, given that we all benefit from the automatic function of taking a breath at fairly regular intervals without thought.

I used to be in a relationship that wasn’t so good. For at least a full week before I broke up with that guy, I remember the sensation of not being able to breathe like something heavy had fallen into the center of my chest and was crushing a part of my lung. I have a friend who calls it air hunger -- not the type of hunger a Baci chocolate or a tuna sandwich can cure. Depending on whom you ask, it can also be called anxiety, but I think in those instances you require a beta inhibitor.

I remember thinking about my relationship with that guy, and taking a breath, and it felt like something in my chest was blocking me from inhaling as deeply as I needed to. This led to my inhaling more frequently and increasingly frantic to the point where I was scaring myself. Let’s see, I think about him, and immediately after I try to take a breath, and I can’t.

I think there is already a problem when you find yourself trying to breathe. He had taken my breath away, and not in the poetic first glance, first touch, or first kiss kind of way, but in a “I’m chained to the bottom of a well and water is pouring in from the top” kind of way; an “End of my world” kind of way that scared me. I thought about my life, and I didn’t want to live this way, unable to breathe deeply. It scared me more than the thought of starting over with someone new or being alone. So on an unseasonably warm fall afternoon in upstate New York with leaves crunching beneath my feet as I paced in the parking lot, I made a phone call that began ”Can I come over tonight? I need to talk to you.” The little knots in my stomach started to untie and the slab of concrete in the middle of my chest began to break apart.

These days, I don’t have any breathing trouble at all. I’m much stronger and smarter about who I give my heart to. If I have doubts I give them ample consideration, and if necessary I walk away. It isn’t always easy, but my mind is clearer and I no longer equate mental and spiritual growth with how bad I can make myself feel. I think about that last guy sometimes because he tried to break me down, and I’m higher than I’ve ever been. I live in a better apartment, I make more money, I have a great new guy, and I feel, dare I say, content. Finally, I can breathe easy. My breath is only taken away in the metaphorical, poetic, or lyrical sense.

1 comment:

GWIZY said...

This was very well written.