Blood Pressure and Nostalgia

Sighs are deep breaths too

I’m thinking about the Fall of 2009 when I went to Bali and exchanged my soul for a fever; the torrential feelings I had that changed the way I looked at people forever. TL;DR: went to a destination wedding and fell in love with a guest. One friend compared my tempestuous love affair to religious ecstasy and it was so profound that I’ve since married a different person who bore witness to the exchange.

It’s been a decade since. Memories far in the rearview, I refer to the affair only in my subconscious. Last night I dreamt I was meeting Ben at a hip restaurant in Downtown Los Angeles (which is where I’d last seen him in real life). I’d left my shoes in the basement and had to retrieve them. He suggested we go somewhere even cooler, “down Mott street about five minutes from here” and I remembered thinking it was weird a New York street would find itself in Los Angeles. Since it would take a while for me to find my shoes, he would go ahead to get on the waiting list to be seated. I didn’t know where the restaurant was, and Ben didn’t have a phone to coordinate with me, but my uncle (who is paralyzed by lithium in real life) was there jazzing up conversation with young folks, and told me he would point me in the right direction when I was ready. By the time I got my shoes, my uncle had run into his wife, and the two of them decided to run off and have their own fun, leaving me to “figure it out.” I lost sight of everyone and knew Ben wouldn’t wait long at this other restaurant before moving on. I know all this sounds like I treat Ben like “the one that got away” but the whole situation was and is by my interpretation, a supreme parable of Horrible Timing. But timing is everything.

Blood pressure measures the beats your heart pumps into the upper and lower valves, every minute. It is a tempo. My heart sometimes pulsates on the upper register of hypertension. Most presciently, the resting rate, the diastolic pressure, is too speedy. According to my doctor, “your normal blood pressure is absolutely beautiful, but obviously you’re under a lot of stress.” She thinks, and I agree, that this is just COVID19 anxiety and we should just keep an eye on it. All the experts say the same thing: calm the fuck down.

I artificially meditate by thinking of calm spaces: babbling brooks, forests undulating with wind, relief under a cliff adjacent to the scorching hot sands of the exposed Indian Ocean. The sound of wind in the trees. *bites lower lip* I’m my own Calm app. But this morning I let myself wander back into the ocean with Ben. Again, these are not sexual metaphors. However, it is how I rationalize the danger of nostalgia, despite my conviction that doing so is an exclusively male pathology. I’m just grateful I got to feel so goddamn much. I have the blood pressure of someone falling in love.