Day 0: Friday morning, not yesterday, a week ago. Flying down I-95, light traffic. I’m lip syncing America’s Ventura Highway: “Chewing on a piece of grass…Walking down the road…Cause the free wind is blowin’ through your hair.” I flick through the day’s calendar as I pull into the parking garage. Light. Nice ramp into the weekend. What Bliss is This?
By day’s end, Bliss is way amiss. Whether from a hand shake, or splashed in the air from a cough or a sneeze, or from an infected keyboard at a guest office, the virus is planted in the eye, it spreads to the tear duct and then to the nose – and we jackknife from Bliss to → Far-From-Bliss-Miserable-Son-of-A-Bitch.
Patience, a short string on sunny days, is a gator snapping. Sick man, with head cold, brooding.
The nasal secretion flows uninterrupted. I roll the smooth, orange-crush colored LiquiCaps in the palm of my hand. Marbles! Days are measured by DayQuil feedings, ingested at 4 hour intervals and then relieved at bedtime by NyQuil. The Vick’s team is on the field 24 x 7.
I’m squinting at the DayQuil packaging. Multi-Symptom Relief. I flip it over, and the font shrinks to something less than 5 point. What a**hole at Vick’s thinks I can read this sh*t? A commercial conspiracy I’m sure, to disguise dosage levels to keep juicing.
“Severe Liver Damage may occur if you take more than 4 doses in 24 hours, which is the maximum daily amount for this product.” I stare at the warning. Severe liver damage. No warning for taking 4 doses a day for 7 days and another shot of NyQuil each night. My stomach growls. Jesus. Common head cold to damage of the largest internal organ. That escalated quickly.
“Powerful Non-Drowsy Relief.” Non-Drowsy is repeated on the box. May be true, may be true, but there’s no commentary on lucidity because I’m floating like a dirigible.
Day 8: The World moves in slow motion and is covered in an ever so light mist – cabs, foot traffic, street lights, street vendors, thoughts. My pace is half-step the normal gait, and I’m panting.
I step into Walgreen’s, the body’s fuel now half blood, half DayQuil – it needs no store map – it’s a Ouija Board yanking me to the cold medicines. The counter man watches me warily – I drop the DayQuil and a bottle of water on the counter. He takes a step back, grabbing the corner of my Visa card. I crack open both at the counter, down them, step back from the counter and pause waiting for relief. The stomach acids break down the LiquiCaps, the potion coats the insides, the full semi lucid state returns. Sigh.
I pause to watch the pedestrian traffic from inside of Walgreen’s, thinking about this alien thing camped out upstairs in my private library. The iridescent light of the morning pours in through the window.
How-for-bloody-granted you take the good days, the ordinary moments.
I ask, I implore – Restore me. Please.
I will awaken. I will Praise. I will be astonished. Of the Ordinary. Of the Moment.
I will be Light. A bloody Lighthouse.
I promise, this time.