On Air and Water.

The fact that my body knows how to breathe is proof I belong in a place with air. I belong here. It is as simple and rational as tears and belly laughs, if you do them right.

I have watched people weep and laugh for a long time, and I know it is not the way I do it. I gasp and heave, holdovers from days bent double during soccer games, the heat and panic of knock-knees scrambling for glory and sliced oranges. In joy, in sorrow, I draw air in and let saltwater and sound out, as deliberately as a second language.

These proofs of emotion are the marks of everyday life; an expelling of air, of water. These should flow as easy as a native tongue: elements that belong to the world around us, but are also within our possession for a short while. Perhaps we have the capacity to expel our elements, or perhaps they expel themselves from us, yearning to return to the ocean and atmosphere from whence they came.

Perhaps we should allow them to leave us; after all, the great sure sign of knowing you love something is to let it go.

So I cry the same way I always have and let the water go back to the sea. Crying as violently as I do is the only way I have found that leaves me empty enough to understand what was there in the first place, that which illuminates and defines the room’s corners so the stairs are clear in the dark.

I have tried to let the sorrow go. I have tried to let the joy in. I might have felt, for a time, that sorrows’ proper place was within me. But there was also a time when joy began to burst out of me, so enthused it hit the corners of rooms, banged knees on furniture. My laugh has changed. These days, it doesn’t feel the need to upturn tables with the declaration that it is there. These days, it rights the tablecloth when it is crooked.

After all this time, there is reason to laugh. After all, I was made to use my lungs for a purpose; this place is filled with air.

© 2015 Anna-Christina Betekhtin, All Rights Reserved.


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