Clear Your Throat
It happened in the middle of my room.
Well, actually, I could feel it building up inside of me earlier:
Once a few days ago, I looked up from the book I was reading in the park. The grass was as green as can be. The small lake was never still due to dogs and children alike wading clumsily through the water. Women and men, young and old all jogged by every few minutes or so. I looked to the empty side of the bench, cleared my throat for no reason, and returned to my book to read more about people that I was beginning to love and care for.
On another day, I had walked down the street. A man with dreadlocks was yelling at the woman he called “Bitch,” and she was hobbling after him in clunky high heels as he walked away. Her mouth was crooked, but at the end of her lips there was a very drastic downward slope. Her eyes were glossed over with tears and love, and she followed him like a dog who had disobeyed his master. And I turned my head around to watch them for a few more seconds, and I watched her continue in the direction of the man calling her terrible, terrible names. And I cleared my throat, but I said nothing even though I thought many things.
Another time, I took a walk to the coffee shop. The entire time I debated in my head about what I wanted. A tea soda? A cold brew? A warm latte? I thought about the pretty little design on the foam, the sound the ice makes in a glass, the feeling of bubbles popping on my tongue. I enjoyed brainstorming my beverage and trusted that when I got there, I would know what I wanted. I reached the ramp of the coffee shop. I walked up and stood about four feet in front of the door and balked. I must have stood there for about thirty-eight seconds before I turned around and walked down the ramp. I cleared my throat and took the long way back to my apartment.
I walked through Temple Square. I saw one soon-to-be bride after another with their soon-to-be grooms who were surprisingly willing to take all of the lovey-dovey photos with their fiances dressed in their white wedding dresses. The photographers were always the same: a young mother who claimed to be an amateur photographer and yet still chose to take photos of couple's in their wedding garb at the worst times of day. It took all I had to walk by them without calling out (while not looking up), "You should wait until the sun isn't shining straight down on their faces. In fact, go eat some food and come back in a few more hours." Since when did I become such a photography prude? I couldn't even tell you what the definition of aperture is really. I had just moved here. If I failed to belong to Salt Lake City by the end of the year, I told myself with a bitter smile, I could always fit in by marrying a man willing to take photos with me where we gaze into each other's eyes dreamily with the temple behind us, and I would spend my future at home and raise children while occasionally taking photos of other young soon-to-be wed couples at 3 o'clock in the afternoon when the sun was blazing the foreheads off of young and anxious couples who want to know what sex feels like sooner rather than later.
Sometime in the last week, I checked the mail and brought it back up to my apartment. The person who lived here before me was an Elle Magazine fan. I stood in the kitchen, leaning by the window and flipped through the pages. Face. Eyes. Lips. Shoulders. Arms. Bottles. Combs. Fancier bottles. Fancier combs. Shirts. Pants. Fancier shirts. Fancier pants. Fancier faces. I closed the magazine and threw it heartlessly onto the living room carpet. It is the only thing in the living room now, but it’s full of so many, many things…So that must count for something? I like how bare the apartment is, but it makes me shiver. I clear my throat and drink a cool glass of filtered water.
And then it happened one night in the middle of my room. I was sitting cross-legged on the carpet as usual since my room was just as bare as the living room and kitchen. I was writing in my notebook—a to-do list, daily errands, and the like. And then I tried to clear my throat, but I couldn’t. And then I swallowed hard. And I choked. And then I touched my face. And it was wet. And I realized I was crying. And I cleared my throat again and realized I was just making room in my throat for bigger, louder sobs. I tried to swallow them down when suddenly I thought the words slowly and with intention: I think I need to cry.
And so I stopped clearing my throat. And I did myself the best favor of the week, and I let myself cry.
I don’t really know why I cried. There was no reason. No one died. Well, a lion did, but so did a lot of good people and beautiful animals everyday. Nothing bad happened to me. Nothing terrible had directly affected my life, but there I was, dotting my notebook with big salty tears that streamed out of my eyes by the dozen.
And this morning I feel better.
And so it goes.