After I’ve struggled to walk into the mall with Woody (portable oxygen) I casually fake a phone call to catch my breath. I like to believe that nobody can hear me gasping, but when I’m pouring sweat from a 30 yard walk, I have to act casual.
I start my journey into the mall, observing that there are a lot of people, a lot of young people. I admire their effortless breathing while they talk. I walk into a clothing store and beginning to look at the clothes I can try on without losing my breath. That annoys me, not being able to try on whatever I want.
Next store, my gosh, it’s about 40 yards. Okay, walk slowly but not too slowly. I make sure my cannula doesn’t look weird and I’m not breathing too hard. I put in a lot of effort into not standing out more than I already do (I’m pulling Woody).
As I’m walking, I look at the athletic girls and become envious of there muscular legs and lungs. Dang it, here comes a couple. They are eating each other up, I wish I could do that – laugh, talk and breathe.
I walk into a store and start looking around but I have to be weary of Woody because the racks are clustered. Sometimes people kick my oxygen accidentally or almost trip on it, it sucks.
After I’ve looked at a few stores and my legs are aching, I go to a Starbucks and order a green tea latte w/ coconut milk, no ice. And I look at people.
I look at the women with children, the athletic girls, the young couples, the old couples and everyone else.
A part of me breaks slowly. Jealousy and slight anger tingle in me. They are so lucky, so lucky to have healthy lungs. So lucky to take full, long breaths. So lucky to run, have sex, to live without worry.
I finish my latte and go home.