failure to thrive

It is gray when you wake up. It is always gray. This is something you only recently noticed, and now you can’t unsee it. It is gray gray gray and then sharply turns black and then you wake up and it is wet cotton gray again.

You have little sense of time in the grayness. Quite honestly, you lost your sense of time around October and it has yet to return. It is 2021, which means nothing to you.

This is the year that everyone’s grandmother died and everyone’s mom got cancer. There are multiple people you stalk on Facebook to ensure that they are still alive.

The last time you experienced full-body happiness? Well, that is hard to remember. Ennui, that’s the word you’d use to describe life these days.

It is strange, this feeling that you are floating through life but not really touching it. Time is passing, you are doing things, but you don’t really feel anything. You are just existing. You had a horrifying thought the other day that perhaps this is what it’s like to be middle-aged. You know, when you have a family and a job and you say things like “where did the time go” and years pass you by but none of them mean what they did when you were younger, and you’re well aware that the brain processes memories and experiences differently when you’re older, that it “records” more in your teens and 20s, but you’re not convinced that’s the only explanation, because once upon a time you worked for a magazine and you remember telling your mom how fast time was going but nothing substantial marked its passage and she said something like “that’s what happens when you’re older,” which kind of horrified you, but then you left that job and moved outside and time slowed, three months became a type of forever, and you’re wondering how much of life we accept as true just because people tell us it is.

You feel things. Really. You do. But they don’t stay with you. For better or worse, you don’t feel things as strongly as you used to. It is like a cat that brushes by you, its whiskers sweeping across your ankle. It is that touch and nothing more that you experience. You never pet the soft white hairs of its belly or feel its claws rake across your skin. Just the whiskers. Just that small lone touch.

Floating. You are floating.

Seeds float. Wind carries them places and then they plant and bloom and bring forth life. You are trying to see your hollowness, your unrootedness as a good thing. You are a seed. Life is within you.

It is 2021 and you are tired of existence. You are tired of your base animal needs. You are tired of taking yourself on boring walks in the same boring loop. You are tired of eating. You are tired of your quarantine hobbies and your Spotify playlists and the same slip of highway that you endlessly drive. And the sky. You’re tired of the sky.

Your sister told you that people can die from a failure to thrive. That’s what they call it. A proper hospital term. Failure to thrive. It means that you’re dying from nothing specific, you’re just not living. For some reason or another, your body just can’t do it anymore. You’re dying. The end.

Also, this might be too personal, someone texted you the other day, but how are you? Like really?

This is a fascinating question. Your answer changes depending on who asks. fine and not great and i hate this sky. They are all true. You are always honest, but the depth of your honesty depends on how much you think the person can hold.

Everyone is some shade of miserable, but no one is really talking about it. You find that people cover that sadness with gratitude, saying things like, “well, it could be worse,” which is true, but doesn’t pay homage to the feelings that are breaking your ribcage and chewing up your skin.

You want honesty. Rupturing, violent honesty. You want someone to yell I’m fucking miserable and punch a hole in their bedroom wall. You want the smell of burned rubber as they peel out of the parking lot and flick the stereo to full blast. You want gasoline and tornados and fractured collarbones because that somehow feels better than this floating, borderline existence that is passing you by like smoke over scorched trees.

Yesterday your coworker told you that there hasn’t been a full day of sun since November 18.

You wanted to scream.

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