“Things to do today:
- Breathe in.
- Breathe out.”
— Ned Vizzini
I have spent so many years teaching myself how to breathe that I sometimes forget why.
- Nose breathes in. On winter days when you can feel the coldness singeing your nostrils, you begin to appreciate how fragile this life can be.
- Lungs kiss air into veins like a miracle; like the first time you see the sunset bowing to nighttime and remember what it feels like to close your eyes and exhale after forgetting how to breathe.
- Air flares through veins to the heartbeat rhythm of the first boy who tucks your hair behind your ear and kisses you on the forehead. There is a pulse stretching through your veins that rushes to the beat of the city’s breath on Saturday nights; the beat of city lights sparking self-confidence under the skin of girls who have forgotten that even Life feels a little drunk sometimes; the beat of lovers who are rediscovering how to touch with eyes closed and hearts open.
- Heart beats because it has forgotten how to stop. The heart is a muscle. It expands and contracts the only way it has ever known how to. The heart is a muscle. It grows stronger every time it feels like you are being stabbed from the inside. The heart is a muscle. If you forget to use it, it will forget how to breathe.
- Polluted air flares back through veins to the heartbeat rhythm of the first boy whose tongue has memorized the shape of your hips but not the shape of your name. There is a pulse scratching at your veins that rushes to the beat of the city’s stagger on Saturday nights; the beat of alcohol morphing into self-confidence in the hollow spaces of a girl who has forgotten that even Life feels a little empty sometimes; the beat of lovers who are rediscovering how to touch with eyes open and hearts closed.
- Veins kiss carbon dioxide into lungs like a sin; like the first time you clutch at the blade like it can save you and remember how to inhale after forgetting why you breathe.
- Nose breathes out. On winter days when you can feel the warmth seeping from your nostrils, you remember how hard it can be to let go of the things that keep you alive.
The next time someone tells me to breathe, I will remind them that breathing is a corruption. I will tell them that I have never felt guiltier than when I rob the air of its innocence to keep my heart beating a rhythm I no longer want my veins to sing to.
I will tell them that it’s alright. We are all just counting down the exhales until we let go of all the things that keep us alive.