It Sure Is

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In the early morning, I go out to the beach alone and swim in the cool waters the color of crystals, and jellos at luncheons and churches I’ve never been to. A man comes out of the water. He’s been fishing for a time, and I’ve been watching him paddle his board up and down the coast. On the shore next to me he takes his fish out of the basket affixed to his board and he is washing them. We are having a conversation though neither of us is saying anything just yet. He holds out the sixth fish to me and he says, “you know I rarely catch what I am looking for. But, isn’t this one beautiful?” I smile and I say yes, run my sandy fingers along the shining yellow belly of the fish. He finishes washing the rest, takes his basket and his board, and he leaves.

If you had told me in April that I would make it to July. I would have only slightly believed you. For in those snowy weeks, and frozen streets, the idea of petting a fish in a swimsuit in the early morning on the shore break in Hawaii was as far-fetched as anything had ever been to me. We crawl out and forward inch by inch to a new future that is still as ours as the one before. In my bed, in Vermont, there was a little voice on that deep blue day when I never got up, and it whispered to me in between half sleeps and it said July.

Everything in Hawaii feels to me like a spoonfed metaphor or lesson on the ways in which in I might be more capable. I learn things like how to stabilize my ears under water, that there is a lost world off the coast, and that the word albatross has two meanings, one a bird and the other a metaphor for being cursed or burdened in our minds. When I learn this, although it is new, it is not surprising this word has come to me like words do- attaching themselves to my life.

Things I repeat to myself every morning: being afraid is only going to keep you from enjoying what you have, no one else is going to write the book for you, remember to breathe.

I understand now more that tattoo you got on your chest, that reminder, to live an honest life. There is no burden greater than being untrue to others and to yourself. It is a chilling thing to get so still that you must listen to those secrets that come whispering up from your basement. It is a chilling day even more so to open the door and descend step by step to all of those parts you do not want to reckon with. I imagine we both have a basement to clean.

I spend a good part of most days just drinking water and trying to undress from the guilt I wear. Is love lost, love failed? And have I broken some moral code? People fall apart every day.

I did not know what I needed when I decided to go west. I knew only I would find it here. It is those quiet knowings that come to us often when we least expect it that will disassemble you and you have to find new ways to put yourself back together. And you will. And you do. Because rarely do we ever catch what we are looking for, but it sure is beautiful, isn’t it?


image via Jordan Paynee

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