Chest expanding, contracting. Will she be waiting? Will she be home when I come back?
Breathing in. Bump on the tracks. Making a turn. Pain in the shoulders.
Breathing. Feel the air coming in, coming out. Hope they are gentle with Betty. We’ve been through too much to let some porter destroy it all. Breath. Breath. Breath.
She was so angry at me leaving. What gives her the right to decide what I do? This gig isn’t much, but the lodging is free and I get to play. I’ve hidden in my room. I’ve hidden at meetings. This is the only thing I know how to do. No more hiding.
Breath. C’mon. Count if you need to. One on the inhale. Two on the exhale.
There’s the sound of children screaming. Why can’t people take care of their damn kids? Breath. Focus. Focus. Breath.
It was a long time before he felt calm. The knots in his stomach were too much. It had been a long time since he performed anywhere. He wasn’t convinced he could do it sober. Relax, he thought. You have a lot of good friends up there who will be happy to see you and happy to hear you play, even if it’s just a coffee shop.
But none of them have ever been around you sober. And you’re leaving your support group. For what? To prop up your ego? To prove to yourself that it wasn’t the booze or the drugs? That the music came from you? And you’re going to risk your sobriety for that? Breathe.
He gave up meditating after just a few minutes. Joseph pulled out his cell phone. There was still no coverage. He was out in the middle of nowhere and it would be at least an hour before he could get coverage again.
Joseph thought, Why the hell did I take the train anyway? That’s right. It’s because my license was taken away and I thought the train would be relaxing. But there’s no place to relax for me because I follow me around everywhere I go.
He stood up and walked over to the car where they had seats on the top level and large windows to see everything. He grabbed his book before he left and hoped to get his mind to stop racing.
It did not take more than a minute or two before someone asked him what he was reading. He looked up to see the large man seated next to him. “What?” Joseph said.
“Just wondering what you’re reading,” the man said. The stranger had part of his shirt sticking out. He wore a broad grin on his face. Beads of sweat pooled on his forehead.
“I’m reading the Dhammapada,” Joseph said. “Buddhist scripture.”
“Oh,” said the man. “That’s that fancy Eastern stuff.” The man waved his arms towards the windows. “You’re missing all the scenery.”
“I know,” Joseph said. “I’m trying to take my mind off things.”
“What do you do for a living?” the man said.
You’ve got to be fucking kidding me, Joseph thought. “I’m a musician.” The trip was going to be even longer than he thought.
The man’s eyes grew just a little wider. “Oh yeah? You’re able to make a living doing that?”
“Yeah,” Joseph said. “I’m on my way to a gig right now. Why was I so damn late getting ready? If I had done things according to the plan, I would have had time to get to a meeting first. Now, I’m going to have to race to the station straight to the gig.
“I was in a band in college,” the man said.
Fuck. Just kill me, thought Joseph.
“I played bass. We were pretty good. We opened for Nirvana once. You wouldn’t know it to see me now,” the man said.
Joseph stood up.
“Where are you going?” the man said.
“I’m going back to my seat. It’s a long trip and I’m going to take a nap.”
Joseph made it back to his seat and closed his eyes. He attempted to meditate again, but he could only think about Anne and how her lips felt when he kissed her. And how she smelled.