The 30th Time I Saw Myself Die

“Are you fucking crazy?!”

He grabbed me with firm hands, jerking my shoulders to square up to his own. I could see his lips moving, his eyebrows were screaming, but all I heard was a deafening white noise. People were screaming, pointing at me. A woman was covering her mouth with both hands. Like I had done something wrong. Like I had killed a cat with my bare hands.

I pressed pause.

The bodies around me froze in place. Their gestures were still yet piercingly loud, hands and arms spread open to match their fury; the man gripping my shoulders had so much tension between his eyebrows I wanted to dig a finger into his skin. Help the guy relax a little. Good god, man, you’re going to pop a vessel. 

I poked at his forehead, but it didn’t work. His face was  scrunched into a rock solid, mean expression. 

I clicked rewind, and watched the events play back. I could see myself jogging from down the block. I had on thin spandex shorts and a heavy black hood, and peaking from underneath were two green cords that coalesced together to plug into the phone in my pocket. My head was nodding to some Kendrick bit, and I was lightly bouncing to the rhythm, taking note of the blinking red crosswalk light. I still had time to cross. I waved to Jose, the neighborhood fruit stand man, and smiled at the little old lady at the end of the block, swiftly jogged onto the pavement of West 157th —

And BOOM. 

Like a homerun slugger splintering from impact, the metal body of a black Caddy caved  against my frame. It dent sharply, like the exhale of a collapsed lung, cloaked in tar and years of bad habit. At maybe, 60, 70 miles an hour, the fuming machine rammed directly in my side, flipping my lifeless body in circles like dice in cupped hands. It crushed bone into dust as easily as a giant would a flea. As the screech of braking tires overtook the orchestra of horror, I pressed pause once again. 

Resume.

The Cadillac blared its horn as it barely missed my back. It skimmed so close to my body I could feel the whip of my clothing as the wind snapped my sweatshirt against me. I didn’t gasp. I didn’t react. I just kept running… until he stopped me in my tracks.

I faced the man then scanned the crowd once again. Their terror had quickly dissolved to anger, to shaking heads and disgusted faces. He let out, “Are you fucking crazy!?”

I mean, I think that’s what he said. (I was never really that great at reading lips.)

I removed my headphones in time to hear the rush in his voice, “You almost died. YOU ALMOST DIED.”

My heart was a steady 50, maybe 60. I shrugged. “I’m fine.” 

I tugged my hood over my eyes and casually resumed my jog. The crowd shook their heads in a bitter grumble, and I left them in the cold clutter behind me.

I pulled up at the next red light, and removed my headphones once more. I almost died. I almost died? 

There, standing alone, I shuddered. 

I shook with fear — not because I was an inch from death, but because close calls have happened so many times they no longer phase me. This comfort I feel, is uncomfortable. My apathy makes me reckless. 

After all, I’m the protagonist and the narrator — I can’t die. I have chapters I haven’t gotten to yet.

The signal turned white, so I returned the beat to my ears and my feet to the streets heading to Harlem. As I slipped past the row of cars stalled at the red, I could feel their headlights following me, testing me, watching the litter of emotion I was tossing behind. 

Scared to Death

 

I’m a fucking pansy.

No, it’s not what you think, though. r-KINETIC-CLOCK-large570

I’m not afraid of spiders (don’t let the surprised squeal fool you; I can beat them all up, I swear), terrorist attacks, being alone, my credit score, the apocalypse, heights, or other top common fears we’re told it’s Human to have.

You know what I’m afraid of?
Time.

I know, right? Of all things.

Take a stopwatch and hold it in my face, and I’ll wet my pants faster than a sexually amped sixteen year old at a Justin Bieber concert.

It terrifies me to know how fast time is. It’s much faster than I’d like it to be.

I know –and you know as well– that we will expire some day, but when the time actually comes, the rest of us find ourselves in shock. I’m more surprised at how surprised we feel, despite attempts of mental preparation. It’s like bracing ourselves for an impact that makes us flinch and tense up, regardless. Expectation itself fails to soften the blow, and time makes the inevitable punch swing faster and harder than you originally anticipated.

Lately, it feels like the Big man has been messing around with my calendar. He’s been twirling the months around his fingers like he owns the damn place (well… uh… even if he does, that’s not very nice), and it’s making me feel irritated. Disturbed. A tiny bit lost.

I’m scared of how brief a single second is. It’s gone before you can finish reading this sentence, and it doesn’t have the courtesy to ever come back. If I weren’t so deathly afraid, I’d hold it by the collar and teach it some manners.

Pun always intended.

12/25/12 The C Word

There are some of us that find comfort in commitment.

They can fall back blindly and wrap themselves in the layers of stability and reassurance. Those who can capture the beauty of commitment, raise a glass for your splendid ability to see the good in the bad.

Meanwhile, there are those of us who don’t want it, who don’t need it, and who don’t want anything to do with it. Why? Because commitment is a tease, a responsibility with weight.

Commitment is the leash with enough slack to let you sniff around, but tugs you backwards when you want to progress forward. It is a woman who bakes you a cake, and says you can’t eat it (but really, what good is a cake if you can’t have it and eat it, too). It is an enticing movie preview of a film that will never come out, a vision of the future that will never be yours, or perhaps just an episode of MTV cribs.

This idea came to me when I was thinking about how there are so many things I want to do in this world, and so little time. With commitment, we sacrifice potential to secure a guarantee. We limit the future by expanding our present. Can we truly be happy with what we have? Only some of us.

This upcoming semester, I’m going to apply to switch my major for the fourth time, and if accepted, I will have to commit to obtaining a masters before I even apply for a doctorate. I set new occupational and academic goals all the time. I can’t seem to settle on one, although there is not much room to flip flop when you are on the clock. This is what drives me nuts about myself. Why can’t I settle on one? Is there a problem with me, or is there a problem with commitment? I guess commitment is an acquired taste, and there are only some of us that have yet to practice the flexibility of our palettes.

I wanted to climb mountains. I wanted to road trip across the nation, I wanted to collect shit, I wanted to longboard, I wanted to learn how to use turntables, I wanted to play instruments, I wanted to learn different sports, I wanted to be an artist. By dedicating myself to one hobby, I would have had no time for others and I would have –as expected– grown bored. My friend and I once discussed how I am the Lamar Odom by choice: “good” in everything, but great in nothing. An opportunity cost also closely linked to this sly devil. Love one with all your heart, or love many and freely?

I can’t even commit to one answer for you.