It’s throwing up before a show and feeling like your guts have just all pooled on the floor.
When you run into a group of hardened, tough men at the mouth of a darkened alley, it’s the white-hot heat that seizes your throat, and collapses your chest, and erases your brain.
It’s fumbling fingers over sticky keyboard letters, desperate to form words that will announce your intentions to be considered for a job, or take someone on a date with whom you’ve been enamored for a long time, or let someone know that they’re about to be laid off, or to tell your family that you’re now a parent-to-be.
When you move into your own place for the first time, the very first night, it’s the cramping in your fingers that you don’t become aware of until you let go of the stack of blankets you’ve been clinging to, until you grow so tired that you collapse at dawn, finally saved by the sun from the bumps in the night.
It’s the drop in your stomach when the rope hoisting your grand piano up to your third floor apartment begins to fray, and snap, and with every thread of rope lost, your piano drops inches, and then feet, and you hold your breath, standing so still, in case one wrong move sends it slamming to the ground.
When you come home late at night, it’s finding your front door wide open, and all the lights on inside.
It’s taking a hike in the middle of the woods on your own during hunting season, and hearing a bullet whiz past your head to strike a tree farther up the path.
When you get pulled over, it’s the sweat clinging to your underarms, your upper lip, your forehead, the thoughts circling your mind: will I be arrested? will they hurt me if they think I’m not obeying? is this the end?