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April 15, 2012

on fighting for things.


this morning, i took my usual walk to buy the newspaper. i stopped at the drugstore. as i walked towards the shampoo aisle i saw a man lying on the floor. he looked like stanley from the office. he had collapsed in front of the photo counter. there were disposable cameras and film and pieces of paper scattered around him. his face was blue. his face was as blue as the employees' and paramedics' navy polo shirts. the woman behind the counter was standing behind him whispering to him that he would be fine. 

why aren't you on the floor with him? did someone try cpr? does he need cpr? i've taken first aid courses; why can't i remember anything? i should go to this man on the floor. i should push through the employees hovering over him doing nothing. what are they supposed to do? this man just had/is having a heart attack/stroke in front of the discount easter candy. 

this is how it goes. you see something horrible happen. it shakes you up. you hug people harder. you feel more alive. you promise yourself to be more alive. 

why do we need to be shaken up? shouldn't life itself be enough? why do we need reminders of how short our lives are? why does it take a life almost ending to remind us that ours could do the same thing at any given moment?

this is how it goes. you see something horrible happen to someone else and you immediately make it about you. 

what if i was the one lying on the floor waiting for an ambulance? waiting for medicine to shock my heart if my heart wanted to call it quits? that could be me. i could have a heart attack. i'm not good at managing my stress. what if i almost died at 7:30 on a sunday morning in a drugstore? a place full of medicine and things that heal people, all of them completely useless in that moment. dear god, please don't ever let me die alone. 

you think these things and you feel ashamed. this man was alone. the paramedics came right away. i looked at their faces, all of these men, some just young boys, some much older. none of them looked worried. i took that as a small gift. no one was yelling. there was no chaos. they got him into the ambulance. these men did their job. 

one of the young male employees who had been standing at the main entrance looking for the fire department/staring into nothing/waiting impatiently along with me for the sound of sirens bent down and picked up everything that had fallen. i should've helped him. i didn't. 

i walked next door and bought a cup of a coffee and a maple donut. i stood at the counter and debated and berated myself. for wanting a donut. rhi, if you want a maple donut once in a while, have a fucking maple donut. eat the donut without abusing yourself. you're allowed to have a donut. it's one, not a dozen. it's not a gateway to gaining back 100 pounds. eat the donut and drink your coffee and say a prayer for that man.

that's what i did.


before i started graduate school i was in a bad place, in every sense of the word. last night, i dreamt i was back in that place. the place before i came to stay with anna and kevin while looking for apartments, when i had two roommates who were becoming my family, family to have dinners with and talk with and say goodnight to, people to brush teeth with over the bathroom sink as a cat slithered between our feet. before starting school and a new job. before starting therapy.


i woke up half a dozen times last night. i awoke with a heaviness on my heart. i'm doing everything in my power to put those days behind me. 

as trite as it sounds, these two things, a bad dream and seeing that man on the floor, have been a wake-up call. to remember that as terrifying as it is, i am the only person capable of helping myself succeed, of staying afloat, and of never going back to that place again. i have come too far to go back there. i will take these two signs from the universe, two not-so-gentle reminders to keep pushing and to keep fighting for my happiness. for my life. good things happen to people who fight for them. don't forget that, rhi. 

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