Friday, June 17, 2011

return to NY.

I'm in New York on the first stop of The Great East Coast Farewell and Potential Hoe Shit tour. Tis my last hurrah before I jet back to Los Angeles to finalize things for the move to Panama.

This is incredibly bittersweet. I'm revisiting friends who've seen my growth and progress over the years, people who knew me when I was but a bald-headed black boy with a smart mouth and a dream. I am not making grand plans; I am perfectly fine with wandering, walking, talking, and reflecting since it's free. I have made it abundantly clear that this is not a "goodbye" but more of a "see you around...at some unknown point in the likely distant future." I will try my best not to do tears, because I'm no punk bitch, but, in reality, I can't even promise that.

Tuesday was my last day of employment in the states. Driving into the parking garage for the last time, I became unexpectedly emo. My thug exterior had been quietly breached and I took a minute to compose myself. I had worked at this job for about a year and a half, and, for all the drama experienced, I can say it's been one of my favorite jobs. Being able to flourish as a manager while developing leadership skills while maintaining a strong work ethic all contributed to one of the better aspects of LA life. That group of people became a family of sorts and will be deeply missed. After a handful of teary, semi-dramatic farewells, the mad dash to tie up as many loose ends before the trip commenced. Selling of furniture. Twisting of hair. Selling of cars. Packing and shipping of books. And so on.

I've been to New York four or five times since moving to Los Angeles. Never really felt anything besides joy when visiting. This trip, naturally, is different. Two friends have always pleaded, jokingly and nonjokingly, for me to move back. I always, nonjokingly, shut them down. So, I expect tears and grand outpourings of emotions upon my departure. Sure, it's justified. And I'm mentally preparing for that.

In all of this fuss, the scope of what's to come hasn't really settled in just yet. I'm full speed ahead without reflection until the time arrives for the big leap. Emotions can wait. However, similar to when I touched down in Los Angeles for the first time, I had a panic attack during the layover in Milwaukee Wednesday morning. First, numbness in my right hand. Then, a noticeably quickened pace. Sweating. Labored breathing. It crept in as we de-planed and got worse as I walked through the terminal. Asked a customer service worker if there was a first aid station as if that would help.

"No, but there's an EMT I can call."

"Okay, fine."

By this point, my right hand was turning blue and both hands were shaking pretty intensely.

I've had panic and anxiety attacks before. It typically goes like this:

Cue worrying and/or anguish. Symptoms appear. Questioning and self-assessment commence. "Is this Lupus-related?" is invariably the first question. "Am I dying?" or "Will I have to pay for an ambulance because of this?" usually follow.

Panic intensifies. Considering the possibility of a larger medical issue and the resulting bills and/or death continues. Treatment is sought. When vitals are taken and I'm labeled "just fine," shame sets in. Always. This means "you caused this." I'm told to "relax and calm myself down."

Shame becomes unbearable. Most times, sitting on a stretcher in an ER, this is when I typically start crying. Mom or Dad talks me down via phone. Each time. Blood pressure eventually lowers. Relieved that I'm not dead, I get discharged, go home, continue feeling stupid for working myself up and into an ER. Post-insurance, a God-awful bill arrives four to six weeks later and I live happily ever after. End.

There was no frantic call to the parentals or an ER trip this time. In the waiting area of the AirTran terminal, a crew of EMTs poked, questioned, and checked me to ensure I wasn't having a stroke, dying, or on drugs.

"Any medical issues?"

"Aside from Lupus, no."

"Any personal issues, family problems, or big events coming up?"

Bingo.

"Oh yeah...that."

In the end, I don't die.

"You're fine."

They leave.

I sign papers, consider airport meltdowns as a way to score a free and quick medical exam in the future, hunch take a minute to collect myself while embarrassment fades and my pulse normalizes, and eventually take my seat next to Buffalina Jolie on the plane.

Since landing in New York two days ago, the Completed Acts Of Hoe Shit count stands prominently at ZERO. Bold, all-caps, font size 72 ass zero. A sign from Dr. Pepper-flavored Jesus of the need for me to keep my skinnies up around my waist and off the floor? Perhaps. A cause for frustration? Absolutely.

Well. I've a day and a half left here and a world of thirst in my pants before hopping the bus to DC and VA.

Wish me luck.

-Thirsty McThirsteson

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