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Zach Semel


5/13/2020

I feel disoriented scrolling through Trulia apartment listings for a city on the other side of the country while hardly having left my house, let alone having imagined driving 2500 miles.

I feel like I need to smell some candles.

I feel like I want to online shop for a firepit.

I feel disconnected as, without a full-time job, I am more easily reminded of how out-of-touch with my friends I’ve allowed myself to become. This past week, I said I’d go for a walk with one friend and it just never happened, and I know that ‘relationships are a two-way street,’ but I think that this period, if anything, is for feeling as if things are wholly your fault that aren’t.

I feel flimsy, my underworked legs trembling through the mildest of walks, my shoulders quickly sore from moving gallons of water from kitchen to basement.

I feel besieged by the family of squirrels moving in and out of the attic right above my bedroom. When I hear their quick scrambles across my ceiling, their gnawing on the roof’s frame, I feel as if their claws and teeth are scraping at my bones.

I feel guilty for not using every second of this time to not spend with my family.

I feel guilty for how angry I was at Skylar the first time I watched Breaking Bad as a teenager.

I feel stuck in remembering how wrong I have sometimes been.

I feel triggered—on edge, constantly—by the booms of construction down the street, by the chaotic blaring of caravans honking their appreciation; by shrill sirens and planes roaring overhead.

I feel afraid to sleep. In my dreams, I have been murdered at least a dozen times in the past few months. I have witnessed mass shootings and bear attacks. I have said goodbye to students I will likely never see again. I have killed myself. Last night, I tried heroin and became addicted, and my family was so ashamed of me, and I wished so badly that I could change the choices I’d made.

I feel like I’ve been too hard on myself, of late.

I feel like I never want to stop answering this question—like I’ve been holding the answer in or just forgetting. When I asked my therapist, she said there were a few weeks when I said I was feeling “very good!” and I was surprised. What had I done better those weeks?

I feel like, the next time someone asks me how I am, I might tell them “mixed” because that’s the deepest truth.

I feel so in tune with the hum of my air conditioner and, when it turns off, I often feel that I will be okay, that the silence of a room isn’t gaping enough to swallow me whole.

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All images other than author photos and artist artwork ©Matthew Batt 2020