lugano lakeside | 2008
It is Sunday and I can breathe again. Laying across the floor of the nook, both arms at crane’s angles over my head. It’s snowing outside. I blink and breathe. Open and close and open. In and out and in.
Not that I haven’t been breathing all along; I generally try to make a habit of it. Granted, there was that moment when my brother’s basketball game was down to two points and 2.8 seconds and I don’t think I was breathing then, not until Blake hit the three and March had nothing on that madness. Then driving home over point of the mountain the wind was doing double-time in the whiteout so I held my breath in some sort of counterploy, like maybe if there were a little less air in the world it wouldn’t be trying so hard to rip me off the road. And okay, when Cumberbatch took a dive off St. Bart’s the impact fair knocked the wind right out of me. Other than that, I breathe.
I guess what I mean is that this is different. There is something about Sunday breathing.
Poe wrote some seriously crazy stuff, and not just occasionally but always. One story’s about a guy who literally loses his breath and, instead of dropping dead, heads out to hunt it down. In the ensuing adventure, Mr. Lacko’breath (really) breaks both his arms under a carriage, fractures his skull against an errant trunk, has his ears cut off by a curious surgeon, is condemned to death by hanging, finds himself dead and buried, and therewith carries on a conversation with the neighbor corpse before effecting their escape. The protagonist remains nonchalant, however, absolutely ambivalent, running commentary like any vaguely interesting afternoon story, punctuated by the occasional philosophy. At one point the guy’s mentally repeating passages from the “Omnipresence of the Deity” the way some might count sheep. Like I said. Crazy.
It’s all for the fun of it, the farce of it, the blatant burlesque, but I was thinking as I was breathing that maybe actually there’s something to it. Maybe sometimes we really do lose our breath and simply keep on living, numb. On the one hand, you can’t hurt anymore. On the other . . . well. You can’t feel at all.
Breath. Bate it, catch it, hold it, gasp for it, save it, waste it. Out of it, under it, all in one. Deep. Of fresh air. Of life. Take it away.
These are the kinds of things you think about while Sunday breathing, sometimes, alongside inquiries into the function of sight and the way girls walk across ice and Pablo Neruda (because love cannot always fly without resting) and the possibility of victory and do we have enough eggs to make cookies? And when I say Sunday, I don’t necessarily mean the seventh day of the week, though this happens to be my present predicament. It doesn’t have to be really any particular day at all. Sometimes it’s the seventh hour after six, figuratively speaking, or the seventh minute, or second. It’s that quiet moment of lull and life where you connect the constellations and make sense of the mess. When you stop and breathe fully aware of that breath, that glorious inhale-exhale that remind you that you are, scientifically speaking, very much alive. Which, if you think about it, is a spectacular fact of the first order. You. Are. Alive.