Prompt text: Describe a memorable event, positive or negative, and how it felt to you, but do not name the feeling. Instead, tell how it felt in your body (damp hands, metallic taste, tight throat, wobbly knees, etc.).

Author’s note: Another easy one.

T – 7 hours: Get out of bed at Fred’s.  I’m staying at a friend of my father’s because family occupies every spare room at the house.  I’m tired, restless, antsy.  I don’t feel like I’ve slept a wink all night, even though I’d turned in fairly early.  Nine hours of sleep feels about as effective as one.  I feel a slight tightness in my throat, that I worry might be the start of an allergy attack.  Not something I need today.

T – 6 hours: I go to get a much needed haircut.  Yes, it would normally be a bad idea to get a haircut on the morning of such an important event.  This is how much implicit trust I have in my barber.  He’s been cutting the hair of my father and brothers since we moved to Fort Worth.  There’s no reason why this day would be any different.  The fast food breakfast I wolfed down on my way to the barber shop sits in my stomach like a lump of lead.  The tightness in my throat has started to migrate ever so slightly down my trachea.  I wonder now if it’s not allergies but if I’m getting sick, which only makes my stomach churn around the lump in my stomach. Breathe, breathe, breathe.  A moment of relief when A.C., the barber, tells me it’s on the house today.  His gift to me.  I smile stupidly as I leave to head to my parent’s house.

T – 3 hours: I start thinking maybe I should start getting ready.  Mom and Pop come in from having run errands and I find out that they lost a working headlamp on their car.  A truck ahead of them on the freeway rolled over a rock, kicking it up and back, fracturing the lamp.  I start to get antsy, but Pop’s already called Enterprise to rent a car for the night.  I go ahead and get into my tux.  The tightness in my throat has now migrated into a circle of pressure resting on/in my chest.  It feels like someone has set barbell plates on my chest, about 25-35 pounds, and I can’t get them off.  It’s not physically difficult to breath, but I still feel every ounce of that weight on my chest.  I get my brothers into the car and we go to Enterprise.

T – 2 hours: I am now starting to actively freak out.  Everybody and their dog is waiting for a car at Enterprise.  Despite the fact that the three of us are in tuxes and obviously have an important event soon, the counter staff is indifferent.  The plate on my chest has just added 10 pounds of pressure.  I look at my watch and call Pop to apprise him of the situation.  “Well, forget about it then, we’ll just drive it with the bad headlight tonight and hopefully we won’t get a ticket.  Come on home, and we’ll head to the church.”

T – 1 hour 45 minutes: I see the flashing red and blue lights in my rear view, and start to slide over to the right side of Granbury Road.  It’s only when I see the cop is slowing down with me that I realize he’s pulling me over.  The weight on my chest now feels like somebody’s dropped a six-year-old onto my chest.  It is now starting to get difficult to breathe.  Astonishingly, even though I normally sweat like a fiend because I always seem to run about 2-3 degrees hotter in body temp than everyone else, my forehead is completely dry.  I suspect my hands may feel vaguely like dead fish, however.  My stomach is turning over like a pinwheel in a stiff wind.  I roll down the window, handing over my license and registration.  The officer seeing three young men in tuxes actually asks if we’re in a hurry.  I repress the urge to be flip, and calmly reply that we were on our way to a wedding by way of my parent’s house.  I apologize for the speeding, as I didn’t realize how fast I was going.  In as much as a Mexican can look pale and nervous, I figure that’s the impression I’m giving off in spades.  The officer doesn’t even run the license.  He just urges us to be more careful, so that we get to our destination safely.

T – 1 hour: We’re at the church.  My next youngest brother says, “Just say the word, man…I’ll get you out of here…you’ll be farming pigs in Mexico and your name will be Luis.  No one will know who you are. We’ll bring you American newspapers once a month.”  I laugh, the first time that day the pressure in my chest has lifted even slightly.  It then settles back in and throws on another ten pounds when I find out we’re short a bridesmaid and she’s running late.  Spend the next 20-30 minutes pacing in the sacristy and wondering what the hell else can go wrong.  I’m pretty sure that if I didn’t actively WILL myself to breathe I’d probably pass out or asphyxiate outright.  NOW I’m starting to sweat a little, even though the sacristy is fairly cool.  The monsignor comes in and makes a weak, passing effort to comfort me.  All I can think about is how in the hell the man has a combover on the bridge of his nose.  I haven’t eaten in six hours, but I don’t crave food so much as for my stomach to just stop spinning.

T – 15 minutes: I can hear the music playing in the church itself, some slight murmur of the crowd that’s arrived.  In my head, I wonder if farming pigs would really be that bad? Am I really doing this? After 5 years together, are we really getting married? Do I sound like Darth Vader, I must be wheezing so bad from trying to force air into my chest and who the hell set this elephant on top of my chest that’s a damn inconvenient place to put and elephant.

T – 1 minute: I hear the cue that tells me I’m supposed to walk out and suddenly breathing is absolutely impossible.  I step out into the church and take my place at the front.  The place seems like it’s going to explode with people, even as I know I see empty pews on the far sides on both sides of the church.  The bride and groom’s parties are all smiling at me, trying to calm me down and reassure me.  Which might have worked if I didn’t register the fact that the parties are unbalanced, the one running late STILL isn’t there OMG, THIS IS SO FUCKED, WHAT THE HELL AM I….

There’s a loud clap as my youngest brother throws the latch on the front door of the church.  He pulls the door open, and a physical impossibility occurs because I know this church faces east and at this time of day the sun should be on the west side.  But the bride steps into the door, looking herself like a deer caught in headlights her eyes are open so wide.  Anime characters don’t show this much white in their eyes.  And yet, with the burst of light into the church, she looks absolutely radiant.  She is in that moment every bit the woman I fell in love with and has never looked better.

And for the first time in what feels like an eternity, I take in a deep breath.  And it comes as easily as a feather on the wind.

2 Comments - you say something?


  • 9 September 201210:12 am Brea Plum

    Thank you.

  • 9 September 201212:08 pm Mex Headroom

    You’re welcome señorita.


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