Leslie stopped by today with lunch. After traveling for two weeks straight, my refrigerator contained ketchup, an onion, and a package of Jarlsberg Lite. Not even McGuyver could have fashioned a meal out of those ingredients.
When we finished eating, Leslie suggested we run over to Old Navy. They were doing a promo on t-shirts, a staple of my summertime wardrobe. Plus, I had done work over the weekend and was ready for a break.
"I don't want to sound crazy but there is a tightness in my chest," I said as I pressed my palm to my throat and inhaled a deep breath. "And I think I might cry." I turned my gaze up to fight back tears.
"I don't know," I replied, knowing it was a ridiculous answer. "Maybe it has to do with E? Like, I feel like I let him down about things," I added, grasping at straws as I attempted to wrap words around the angst bubbling up from within.
There was more I could have said. Like I didn't admit that the previous night I had emailed E. It was a brief note after months of quiet at my end. But for some reason, I felt the need to wish him good luck with the Boston Marathon. I also failed to admit I had tracked his finish while working at my desk, toggling between a conference call, the live-feed, and the runner-tracker. I left that all out because I couldn't handle judgment while attempting to manage unexplained fear.
"That isn't normal, Paige. I really think you should talk to someone. You in no way should feel guilty."
"I think I'm going to go to the gym," I said as we left Old Navy. "Maybe that will help me calm down."
There on the screen was live breaking news about bombs at the marathon. I was startled by the video capturing the blast. I was relieved that the clock above the finish line noted a time almost ninety minutes after E had crossed. And I was in awe of the people whose instinct it was to sprint toward the blast, quickly maneuvering to aid those who were injured. I was running on the treadmill and still felt paralyzed, both by the news and the fact that my panic attack aligned perfectly with the timing of the blasts.
E never wrote back. You may not believe this but I didn't send it with the hopes of a response. It just felt like the right thing to do in the moment, so I did it. Someone asked me if I've checked in with him since the blast, and I have not. This is his day and I don't want to intrude any more than I already have.
When I left the gym, I couldn't go home. I called Leslie who, like me, was rattled by my sixth sense, something that I had run into twice with Alaska. Then I drove up the street to a store that sells crystals. With sweat on my brow and damp workout attire, I stood before candles and sage. I ran my fingers across Buddah sculptures and polished crystals. And for the first time in hours, I felt calm. Just like the panic, I couldn't explain it. Something beyond my control let me exhale. The difference is this time I welcomed the feeling.