This isn’t a New Year’s Resolution.
This is what is whispered alone, only to yourself, when you’ve washed up on a strange but solid shore, chest heaving, frightened, shocked, but still alive.
You’re alive. You’re going to need to fight to stay that way. Not vague, namby pamby promises. No. You are precisely aware of why your craft battered against the rocks, you know why you near drowned, you know well the thin gossamer of luck and fortune that let you live.
Your boat crashed because you didn’t make the effort to learn how a boat works. You didn’t pay attention to lessons. They were tedious.
Your boat hit rocks because there were rocks where you intended to sail. You knew this, but fuck it, you wanted to sail. There are rocks everywhere on earth. Not scared of rocks!
You didn’t check the weather report. It might tell you something that would make you delay instant gratification. So it was easier to not listen.
So you made many small bad choices and they swirled into a vortex and nearly killed you.
But you dog-paddled your luckily buoyant ass outta that wreck. Away from the splinters, the jagged rock. Oh they tore you up, yes they did. You are bleeding right into the salt water, it stings like fire and sharks are probably heading your way.
Now you are alive and the most important thing, friend, is that you get it.
This is on you.
I mean, your dad shoulda passed down a sturdier boat in his will. And your mom shoulda taken you for better swim lessons. And if never even occurred to her to enroll you in meteorology classes! Outrageous! They weren’t adequate parents! And if your friends had showed up to see you off like you were hoping the would they might have discouraged you from making at least a few of your stupid decision, but they’re all so selfish now, living their own lives.
And actually you only told a few. And actually you didn’t tell them when or where you were pushing off. But if they loved you more they woulda KNOWN. But if your husband had taken you on a cruise like he keeps promising you wouldn’t have had to show him your unhappiness by setting out in crap boat.
But now you’re on the sand and you’ve just puked salt water. And the sky is cold and bright and it’s just you. Adrenaline clears your head, salt water pricks your every scrape and scratch with a vital bite. You face a sky that makes you small as you should be, because you are not the center of the universe. And you realize.
“I DO want to sail.
I do not want to sink and crash.
And it’s up to me. All of it.
So…I think I will stop doing those lazy bad cheap easy things over and over because they added up, and near snuffed my life.
I think I will replace the things that weaken me.
I’ll start small…I don’t believe in sweeping out entire refrigerators and restocking with wheat germ (if my analogy strays now do bear with. It ought not be only an analogy). I’ll start with yogurt-flips and Poppables,
I’ll find a typewriter, electric Brothers brand, like I had as a kid. Clack -clackety-clack feels so satisfying. And if you store your inky, typo-coded pages in a neat yellow Peechee of old, it’s harder to neglect it and lose it deep in the parts of the computer you don’t understand.
I think I’ll join the historical museum. They need volunteers and if I’m there eventually they’ll let me touch the stuff behind glass and velvet. Plus they want me to write stuff for them. I frickin love history and the beautiful set white hair of the ladies who staff that museum. I’ll be there tomorrow morning for training on how to care for the Brunk House.
I need writing perspiration to trigger inspiration. So do other people. Ask if anyone is interested if a critique group in a community Facebook forum. Organize a bit. Three weeks later the first group meets tomorrow.
Have I ever asked another couple for dinner? I kept waiting for a big, clean enough house. Next weekend. Ask that new couple with kids the same age as me if they want to come. The husband had a black box with a blinking red light he and his son had built sitting on his desk at work and I dissolved into laughter. That’s a sign of the most secret and special breed of nerd.
….. Oh that anxiety stings and suffocates worse than salt water in the lungs.
I will keep doing that, parenting.
.It scares the crap outta me. Right now that book series I got Jack for Christmas is making me laugh…I think I’ll keep reading it with him. I like doing the voices. That’s parenting.
And so is just going downstairs. Go downstairs. I have set my life where I do not have to go downstairs. My family has gotten used to living without me. That’s kind of fucked up. So. I will go downstairs. And there I will pick up the dirty plates I hide from. There I might scrub a toilet that has gone petri-dish.
I want to sail. Either I do it, day by day, learning how to board a boat and what a mizzenmast is, even if it’s inconvenient, makes my shins bruised and blisters my hands. Or I don’t sail. I find a sorry shelter and survive under it.
But it’s all on me. I choose.
I am the captain of this ship.