A Guide to Eating Very Particular Feelings, Part III

by Jess Zimmerman

FEELING: The one where you jolt alert to find the golden street you walked down now behind you, the sunset down to an embarrassing smudge like an old lady’s lipstick, the lovely town only visible through the window of a fast-receding train, and you have slipped like a paring knife between sense and experience, forgetting to touch it, forgetting to make it real.

HOW TO EAT IT: Hot dog.


FEELING: The one where you wake up the morning after too many drinks with a fist of dread in your gut as if something terrible happened last night, some maiming or insult or betrayal that will devastate you as soon as you remember, but the only candidate you can think of is the moment when everyone else said goodnight and you were alone.

HOW TO EAT IT: Stale bite-sized Milky Ways left over from Halloween.


FEELING: The one where the sudden knowledge that someone will never love you drops into your brain chilly and small like a marble through gelatin, and whether it’s right or wrong it can never be extracted through that same neat bloodless tunnel; you will need to plunge your hand in after it and tear up everything.

HOW TO EAT IT: Bread pudding. Mac and cheese.


FEELING: The one where new angles of light from the shortening day make familiar streets look alien, foliage glowing in unearthly hues or disappearing to show hidden corners and carvings on buildings you ought to know, and the gauze of light unfurls along the facades, like a scroll covered in symbols you can’t quite read, and you can feel something bubble up under your breastbone like a hiccup and you think what’s inside the bubble might be happiness but you never know because it never bursts.

HOW TO EAT IT: Go out and get hot cider. Bring a flask.


FEELING: The one where you try to think about the past by standing at the edge and peering over, the incomprehensible depths of it like looking down and down through miles of ocean, and the sick vertigo when you try to focus on something mundane — a favorite chair, a song, a street you drove on — and it plunges you in like a lone explorer in a bathysphere, so fast your ears ring from the change in pressure, and then all that weight is on top of you and you’re looking up and up for a sliver of sky and meanwhile your air is failing, failing.

HOW TO EAT IT: Deep breaths. And Xanax.


FEELING: The kick-drum thud when someone you’ve been bumping shoulders and knees with for weeks, close enough to an accident that it could have been an accident after all, finally touches you on purpose for the first time.

HOW TO EAT IT: Are you crazy? Don’t move. Eat only what you can reach.

Previously: Part I, Part II

Photo via chrisgold/flickr.

Jess Zimmerman actually deals with most feelings using cocktails. She tweets a lot about feminism and dogs and stuff at @j_zimms.