It’s three in the morning and it is obvious to me at this point I am not going to fall asleep. I sit up in bed and swing my legs over the side. My feet are flat on the floor and I dig my toes into the shaggy rug placed at the edge of my bed. I rub my toes all through the yarn of the rug, just wanting to feel something normal. I rest my elbows on my knees and place my head between my hands. My face feels numb, my nose feels cold, and I can see slow tears dripping to my knees. I take one grey sweater covered hand and wipe my face. I stand up and begin to pace the room. My face is hot with anger and cold from sorrow. My heart is racing and chest is in agonizing pain. I turn from facing my wall to facing floor to ceiling windows on the opposite side. It is completely dark in my room, but the light from the city outside wants me to come close. I take a deep breath and walk over to the windows slowly. Taking one step at a time, attempting to not fall over from my shortness of breath. I bend down to the ground to open the bottom window just to let air circulate in my tiny room. The window only opens about six inches wide from the bottom, but that is all I need.
I take in a long, deep breath. The air is freezing but I feel it go through my nose, down my throat, straight to my lungs. It is cooling and livening and I thought my heart is stopping in this very moment. I let the air go and create a fog on the window. My eyes close, my head is resting on the glass, I sit there breathing in the rigid October air. Voices from fourteen stories below are just faint murmurs of the young students walking out of the bar across the way. I hear the stumbling women and the infectious laughter of the drunkards. I sit there wondering where they are all going, what they are doing out this late at night, who they are, if they even knew each other before heading out tonight. Air infiltrated my lungs slowly, air evaded my lungs quickly.
Soon the air becomes a shroud on my body. My skin gets tighter and tighter till I cannot stand it. I stand up quickly and give myself a head rush, a head rush that forces me to hit my actual head on the glass of the window. I lean one hand against the window to gain my balance and to gain self awareness. My eyes shut tight, my nose drying quickly with snot, my stomach churning like someone kneading dough. All these feelings together gave me something I had never had before.
I had never been alone.
Till you left me in the most agonizing way you could.
I lift my hand away from the glass, pushing myself up straight. I wrap both of my arms around my stomach and keel over. I wanted to vomit, I wanted to cry, but all of my tears were stolen by time and my stomach was close to nonexistent. My eyes hurt from the tears but somehow my body is starting to produce more. I do not want to cry any longer so I stand straight. My arms are still wrapped around my body, my nails digging into my sides, digging deep into my skin. I open my eyes wide to let oxygen circulate and blink quickly. I walk over to the window and do something I haven’t done before.
I just look.
I just look at the buildings surrounding me, the buildings that are taller than me, that are shorter than me. I see all the lights turned on throughout the city and I see all the drawn shades and dark rooms. Every light, turned on or turned off, represents a person in this metropolis that is either wanting to be excluded from the outside or is already excluded from the outside. I see below the strangers wandering the streets lonely, with drunken friends, sober. I see homeless men and women with tattered backpacks and grocery carts filled with bags. None of them speak to each other, none of them even make eye contact. They don’t know each other and they have no interest in knowing each other. My eyes wander up to the sky and I see millions of stars, shining bright, falling dull. The moon is full and bright, not a cloud to cover it’s beauty. The only thing worth looking at from up this high. I look down to the building across from me. There are exactly six apartments with their lights still on and activity on the inside. One apartment is a couple watching movies, two apartments are having parties, and the three others are just people sitting in the kitchen enjoying an extremely early breakfast.
My mind is wandering to how many people are really in this city. Close to millions. Of how many of the millions actually knew each other? How many wanted to know each other? The people on the streets definitely did not want to know each other. The people in their apartments were cut off to those people in the apartments with them. Did they know anyone outside of their front door? Now I am wondering if I know anyone outside my front door. Every morning I leave my door at 7:30, get into the elevator where no one speaks to each other, walk out my building with my ear buds in same as everyone else, speak to absolutely no one. I lean my head against the window shifting all my weight towards it. I breath in the thin air and let my lungs fill more and more. I am losing control of my mind. My eyes move in every direction, flittering quickly from one side to the next. My breathing cuts short and my chest gets tight. I lay down with a pillow next to the opening of the window. The sun is slowly rising and my body is quickly going to rest. The air is on my face and my eyes are having a harder time staying open. I know that if I fall asleep now I will miss class, but I am okay with that.
I turn my head to look down to the ground once again. Still, no one speaks to one another, no one acknowledges one another. Sometimes I wonder if those people even exist or if they are just a product of my imagination or fabricated from this life I am living. The lights in buildings are shut off also realizing the sun is coming up. My room is now entirely freezing and I drag my body to my bed. The parties from the building across are shut down, the couple had gone to bed an hour ago, and the ones enjoying breakfast have left for work. They still do not realize that no one else in that building was awake as the same time as them. I lay in bed and listen to the noises of cars, busses, and trains. But not to the sounds of people who know one another. I am realizing you did not make me alone.
I was already alone in this city.
I wrote this in about an hour and it was just an idea I came up with. I was in the shower singing New York, New York when I realized how much I actually do miss living in Chicago. While this story is not entirely true to me (I was never up at three in the morning crying about men) but it is somewhat resonant of my experience living in the city. I loved looking out at night to see how quiet the streets had become and it was always interesting to see people wandering the streets at ungodly hours. And yes the apartment across the street always had a party going on or someone up at a strange time watching movies.