Fluorescent lights. Plastic cups with pointed bottoms dangle from the water machine. A Top 40 hit blasts, the kind that could never be background music. It demands your full attention, consumes all senses, and shuffles all thought. There’s a flat-screen TV on the wall, but thankfully it’s off. Magazines stacked between me and other patients. Psychology Today. Frankie. LivingNow. Better Homes and Gardens. Tightly woven grey carpet. Neon flyers that read “On relationships,” “Let’s talk about drinking,” “Anger management,” and “Building emotional resilience.” A hand sanitizer pump next to the scented tissues. The soft sound of fingers on a keyboard underneath the still-blaring tune. All of it contributing to a heavy static in the air.
It started with a collective itch, absorbing unseen elements. We left and met here. Hopeful the unknown would be better than this. Still craving, switching spaces. The united states of bodies on the ground. Just human. Sure, we can migrate to a new state. We can evolve. But what’s next? Awareness morphing into control. A meditative/medicated existence, far removed from the jolts of the past. Blacking out the rising sun. Muting emotions. Tucking fear into a belt. Veins popping out. A splitting people. They say it doesn’t affect them, but children will singe. Blur this dirty scene, a failed humanity. Closed eyes see reality. Who cares if we can zone out? Focus on the breath. Unthinkable for many. Those who cannot escape. Those before us. Circling around fire. Making sense of sounds. They couldn’t afford to shut it all off. There is no switch.