can’t catch a breath these days. conservation efforts haven’t taken hold, campaigns for the hood on standby til primaries heat up. primary concern is getting home without the heat up, lindy hopping circles around me. slugs swinging out the chamber and triple stepping across my vital organs. would fall back on mama nature for aid but she’s battling a hot plate, treading thin ice. fuming at a temperature so formidable as to make her air intoxicating. can’t catch a breath.
Ma never gave a fuck anyhow. nobody does.
about 2 months since i fully respired. lungs at peak expanse as life courses through them and mind at optimum repose as death exits respired. thick heavy shackles no longer hindering my ability to navigate the world freely respired. no fun pretending to ascend. 2 months since asthma reinstated the black new deal, pumping my lungs full of grime. got a filter equipped so you won’t catch a contact and descend into the dirt w/me. oh, i’m fine. no doubt about it. life never equipped me to confront this particular demon but, sword to bane, i’m keeping sane.
told my brother something along those lines last week and last night. we’d just finished painting half the bedroom of our new apartment. his but now i’m here so ours. neither of our bank accounts swole enough to muscle the weight, so we flexed our arms across a blank canvas to lighten the load. ran outta paint midway through, couldn’t afford another can so we set mop to floor and dipped.
i’ve never been depressed before but I feel like the World hates me, he said as Chicago peeked through obscure clouds preparing yet another dreaded downpour. like no matter what i do it’s not enough, makes me wanna give up sometimes. the windows were open and the breeze cooler than usual for August but it felt right. strangely enough the pinch, like January’s lashes as unforgiving gusts torture the city, soothed my skin. pain heightened me so i left him to wallow. absorbed even the finest inklings of misery for cache in my subconscious repository.
we were never allowed to be depressed, i said, prompting him to recall all the times Ma yelled “ya with your shit! I’m tired of all the moping.” how can you confront a demon who’s face you’ve never seen? I asked.
that’s a good fucking question, he hit back before looking into his left side view then at the dilapidated buildings of West Humboldt Park. that’s a good question. yuppies split the neighborhood in two when they invaded. couldn’t stand to associate themselves with the project housing nearby or the vermin that occupied them. housed in red brick buildings a third, hell a fourth the size of the new “single family homes” spawning on empty plots of land across the neighborhood. average income barely $30,000 in our hood yet these buildings selling for $1,000,000+.
colonize my hood colonize my mind.
it pains my mind to watch outsiders thrive in a hood i lost friends in. to watch couples embrace on the same benches Ma wept on for hours as we rode swings into dawn, nowhere to spend the night. to watch my sister waste away in a low-income apartment that she can’t maintain as her autistic daughter screams for attention. baby daddy a specter, spectating as my sister digs nails into cranium fingers into screen. begging the world for financial relief while he forges a safe of his wallet. another single mother in a bind.
she was put on antidepressants last week. my sister. history of depression runs long but was neglected by everyone because they had to work or worry about the rent or what we would eat for the day or because she had no reason to be depressed anyhow. she ain’t the only sad motherfucker on the planet. did she think she was? well that makes her selfish, they’d say. ashamed to admit i’m culpable, but I will admit it. i’m culpable of reading her posts on Facebook, where she felt alone. 1 2 3 per week, occasionally finding it in me to put the wine glass down while my date was taking a piss, to ignore texts and Instagram long enough to ask how she was. offer shitty textbook advice, mention my similar but altogether foreign experience with depression, tell her i’d call soon. never called. never.
finally called about dinner last night. drove to Cermak w/my brother for zucchini yellow squash shallots kale tomatoes mozzarella and a baguette. summer vegetable spaghetti. healthy food for a healthy mind. it was nice shopping w/him even if he seemed in a rush and mostly indifferent. he noted a cleaner appearance, vegetables brighter in hue and lighting crisp as a fresh bell pepper. funny how different stores look in white neighborhoods, he said and i immediately proclaimed Humboldt Park a community of color.
not anymore, he said. not for a while.
my sister was on the phone when we arrived. her building, and a few others next to it, the remaining vestiges of a low-income tribe. exteriors drearier than Dublin in December, the coalescence of earthy browns and reds taking on an ashy tinge. she was on the phone when we arrived. commented on my grabbing long bread then moved to her room and continued her conversation. brother migrated to the living room. i chopped squash onions garlic tomatoes kale. browned onions in olive oil over medium heat, added garlic and spices and tomato paste and a bit of parsley, then squash and eventually chopped tomatoes after the squash softened. simmering. brother left to be w/his daughter midway through. do your thing, i said, looking back to the living room for my sister but she wasn’t there. emptied pasta into pot, too much. stirred sauce and chopped more kale and tomatoes and mozzarella for salad. sister came in to check on food then left again. i stirred the sauce. simmering.
girlfriend texted. cranium’s hyperventilation caused me to ignore. i called after my sister three times after straining the pasta. no response. went to her room to say the food was done. oh okay, she said. set the table and watched the steam of our dinner dissipate into a winter-like frost in the cool breeze of the night. opened my phone to a pic of my girl covered in beads of water, her eyes and cheeks and breasts all transmitting the brightness of Tahoe’s sun into my soul. hypertension in my subconscious spilled into my amygdala. what the fuck? i said to my sister when she finally entered the kitchen. who the fuck are you talking to that’s so important? i’ve been here over an hour and you haven’t said more than five words to me. the fuck did you ask me to come for? i yelled and she ended her call.
dinner was the kind of awkward you’d expect post-quarrel. except it’s seldom different for us. the more she talked about her circumstances, the more dejected i became and i know she noticed. tito doesn’t make enough to help out, she said after i asked what he contributes. fantasized him entering the apartment to my fists smashing his face into the wall cabinet and ground until he fully realized what it meant to be a good father a good man.
she jumped back onto her phone while i dozed on the couch. my brother called. i packed his dinner then dipped w/him. can’t recall what we talked about. sporadic breaths. went straight to the bathroom at my friend’s crib and splashed cold water on my face but that ain’t stop my body from commencing filtration. you see it automatically attempts a systematic detox when in possession of excess bullshit. my eyes burned my nose burned my throat hurt. my girlfriend texted asking if i was okay–my heart burned–texted several times after. screen hazy through the grime my eyes expelled. silenced my phone in search of solitude.
you ever attempt to look at yourself in a gritty mirror, splotched splattered and tainted w/who know’s what the fuck? ever lift your head from the dirt and attempt to understand every crease and fold and jutting feature? every hair pore and freckle? what do you see when you do, cause i haven’t managed to stare close enough long enough. not sure how when… i’ll leave you to fill that. done raking the fields of melancholia for prescriptive descriptors of a feeble grifter. show’s over.
pardon my regress.