I’m not a hypochondriac, but sometimes I think I feel things that no one else does. It’s like the pieces that make up the whole have a glitch every once in a while where my body does things it certainly is not meant to do: flowers grow in my lungs, TV static buzzes over any conscious thought in my mind, ice cracks through my bones, and clouds wash over my body in a moment of freezing condensation that causes my skin to ripple into a wave of goosebumps.
Most times, however, it’s as if a zoo has broken loose in my system. There’s a thrashing hum under my skin like the zookeeper just said “fuck it,” and let the animals have their way. This theory is especially favored because of how often I feel them twist about my body.
I feel the damn elephants more than anything. They stomp around in my stomach unceremoniously, and it’s usually in response to the most ridiculous of situations – like seeing a cute boy a few feet away from me in the stuffy coffeeshop. People say it’s supposed to be butterflies in there, so why are mine elephants? I don’t feel the light airiness of their graceful wings beating, or the tickle of their tiny feet creeping around the lining. I feel the thunder of a stomp and the turbulent screech of the air exhaling from their trunks. I feel the flap of their ears and sense them violently herding the minute I make eye-contact with said boy. This is supposed to be butterflies, so why do I feel the buzz of bees in my hands and moths in my ears? Or the boa constrictor wrapping around my throat, the pounding of the antelopes bounding through my heart, and the bite of a wildcat’s fangs in the thick of my inner-cheek? The whole damn zoo riots within me the moment I am in his presence. Maybe they’ve come to taunt me for reading one-too-many hopeless romantic story tropes.
But I can’t help to wonder, where are my butterflies? Where is the granted simplicity of sweaty palms and the normalcy of nervous jitters? Why have I been cursed with the clamor of wildlife while the greatest poets have felt the concise rush of adrenaline that follows deep infatuation, when admired novelists perfectly encapsulate the feelings of loving one most ardently through filling pages upon pages describing only their eyes, or while composers create symphonies when words fail them? Or even when painters dip into every bright color in their palette only to elegantly brush breaths of fume-intoxicated love into the canvas? What does it say about me that I cannot feel the subtlety of wings, but instead feel the flat thump of a three-ton foot?
Maybe I’m not supposed to feel as they feel. Maybe I was made to have the zoo inside of me, running around and causing trouble. I’m a nineteen year old girl, reckless and inelegant. I exist off of iced coffee and ever-changing music tastes. I change the color of my room every few months to fit my favorite at the time (currently: sage green). I read the same three books and watch the same three movies over and over again. I still sleep with a stuffed bear named Paulie gifted to me by my grandmother thirteen years ago. I can’t close window-blinds properly. I’m not a brooding Victorian tortured artist (as much as I convince myself I could be the second I finish watching Dead Poets Society for the umpteenth time), so maybe I’m meant to have the animals run around inside of me, devastatingly incapacitating me when I most want to look intriguing to the nameless boy.
But, hey, at least they’re running free and are no longer bound to their cages. They can run and jump and fly throughout each nerve before peacefully making their way back to their homes, leaving the door unlocked to repeat the process all over again the next time I see a smiling boy in a coffee-shop. I’m not a hypochondriac, but maybe I’m okay with feeling things a little differently.
Categories: march 23 2021, reflections