I’ve Got This by Caleb Owens

weights - close up shotAs a six-foot, four-inch man who weighs two-hundred and thirty-five pounds and used to be able to bench two-hundred and fifty, I’ve got this.

Yeah, I can reach that for you, little person. No problem, happy to help.

Pfft, lifting shmifting. I’ve got this. Twenty, forty, a hundred pounds?

Oh, you need someone to carry the bags up to the third floor along with the laundry basket and a case of wine? No worries, I’ve got this. One trip is better; saves time.

Neighbor needs help carrying up new furniture? Sure, I’ll carry it by myself be, tiny human. I’ve got this.

It’s the stairs, three flights. That’s why I’m breathing hard. I just need more cardio.

While you finish your makeup I’ll carry our luggage downstairs to the car. Oh, I shouldn’t leave the bags on the sidewalk between trips? OK, the car’s down the street though, maybe I’ll… No, no, I can do that. Sure, I’ll just take ‘em all at once, I’ve got this. You’re right; saves time.

I’m going to call my friend, see if he’s available to help next week with all the donation boxes we’ve got. We’ve got dinner plans after we drop them off? No, I wouldn’t want to make him feel uncomfortable since he can’t go, you’re right. I’ll just carry them myself, it shouldn’t be a problem.

Did I ever tell you about this time in the military I fell down a ladder? No, well… yeah, I’ll grab that real quick. Hold on, I’ll be right back. No biggie, I’ll tell you some other time. It’s not important. No, I’m fine. I’m just catching my breath. These stairs, I’m telling you.

Huh? What face? I’m making a face whenever I lift things? I don’t know what you’re talking about, I’ve got this. I’ll just make two trips this time, for some extra cardio, you know.

I think I’m just going to take a few aspirin. I got a little tightness, probably twisted wrong or something. Just got to workout more.

I know you don’t want me to hurt myself. Believe me; would I push myself too far? I’m not that kinda guy; I can admit when I can’t do something. It’s just a little pain sometimes. I probably bumped against something and it’s making me a little stiff.

I don’t know, babe. I don’t know what’s wrong. Don’t we have a heating pad somewhere? Yeah, oh God. That feels so good, you wouldn’t believe.

Oh, it’s probably nothing. It was a long time ago, I can’t believe I even thought of it. So, I was on the boat, and we’re rocking and rolling. I was working in the galley for a few months and this one time I was carrying a box of frozen meat up the ladder, my foot slipped. Yeah, it hurt. I slid down the ladder with the box on top of me. I think I passed out for a little while. I was below deck near the freezers, nobody goes by there very often. Well, I know I laid there for a while in shock; I remember being really cold and sweating and trying to control my breathing. Well, I finally crawled back up the ladder and walked to sickbay. No, they said I was fine. Just a bruise. That’s why I’m saying it’s no big deal.

Huh, what’s up? What was I doing? I’m grinding my teeth in my sleep? That’s weird, how did you… oh, it’s that loud? No, it just kinda hurts when I turn over, that’s all it is. I don’t know, just sharp pains shoot down my legs. Yeah, the heating pad would be great. Thanks, baby. I know you’re worried about it. It’s nothing though. Sorry I woke you up.

A massage would be awesome, thanks. I think it’s from leaning over so much at work, that’s what’s making it worse. No, wait, sweetheart, you can’t sit on my back. I’m OK. No, I just need a few moments, then I’ll get up. I know you didn’t mean to make it worse. I don’t know, sweetheart. I thought it’d be gone by now too. Yeah, it hurts all the fucking time, OK? Yes, I already took some aspirin. I’m sorry, it’s just…

Well, they still ask me to do stuff at work. What, no, nothing extreme; lift things and reach for things. But, leaning over tables taking orders, you know. Just being on my feet all night doesn’t help. What? I can’t tell them that. Look at me, I’m six foot, four inches. I used to be able to bench two hundred and fifty pounds. Who would believe that reaching down for a coffee filter kills me? I know; I should take it easy.

Baby, I’m a little scared. What if I’m…? It’s just, I’ve never had to ask for help. Well, the looks I get sometimes from people. Then I have to explain, and what do I say? “Oh, hey, I’m just a big wimp that can’t even reach up very high because it hurts my back? Wah, wah.” I’m not even forty, and I can’t even carry a couple bags up the stairs without killing my back. You’ve been so wonderful, I know you understand. I want this to end, too. I don’t know, though. Maybe… maybe, I just can’t do some things anymore.

I don’t know what I’m doing, just standing here hurts. Sometimes, someone brushes past me and I twist, and I have to stop moving from the pain shooting down my legs. I know, I try to be careful. It’s just…

I don’t understand, I’m six foot, four inches. I weigh two hundred and thirty-five pounds. Just ten years ago I could bench two hundred and fifty pounds. Now, it takes me ten minutes just to get off the floor. Yeah, it’s embarrassing. No, you’re not doing anything wrong. I’m just…

No, never mind, I’ve got this.

caleb-ownesCaleb Owens resides in San Francisco with his girlfriend and their soon-to-be little girl. He’s taught high school English, bartended, worked retail, supervised a little grocery store in Boston, worked as a librarian assistant in Boston Public Library’s Rare Books Department, steamed throughout Southeast Asia, the Indian Ocean and the Persian Gulf, visited a dozen countries, partied all night in Roppongi, Tokyo and Phuket, Thailand, and engaged in bar fights in Thailand and once in Perth by accident. He’s previously self-published two novels, paid to have a poem in Time/Life collection of poets, and co-wrote a comic.
IMAGE CREDIT: Flickr Creative Commons; Eric McGregor

 

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  • Sharon DeBartolo Carmack

    Fantastic essay, Caleb! Congratulations!

  • Michele Baron

    Great work Caleb!

  • Andrea Venegas

    Awesome!

  • Kati

    Love the rhythm of this piece — nice work, Caleb! Seems like being dad of the year is the next thing on your “I’ve got this list”. Congratulations!!!

  • What a personal, powerful, wonderful piece of writing.

  • Zyzzeva

    You forgot the part where an old friend comes up and “hip checks” you and you almost crumple to the ground in pain!! Or maybe that hasn’t happened to you yet and I HOPE IT NEVER DOES!!1