He moved towards the horizon, his paddle effortlessly cutting through the calm water. From faraway, the sea could be mistaken for glass. The ocean’s surface was unbelievably smooth and glossy, like a freshly laminated document. His cerulean eyes peered to the right, then to the left, trying to search for nothing in particular beneath the water’s static exterior. At this time of day the light from the sun made the water semi-translucent. With trained eyes, he could spot a jellyfish 50 meters away dancing gracefully under the weight of the sky and earth above. Stranding himself in the sea was a form of escapism. He could distance himself from other people, his home, his responsibilities. Yet, no matter where he paddled, he could never escape his own mind. He wanted so badly to truly escape. But he knew he couldn’t. Hanging in the balance between wanting and knowing was where his sadness grew. He didn’t know if he should feel sorry for himself. Maybe he felt as though someone else should be sorry for him, but that didn’t seem right either. Maybe he should feel bad for someone else? He wasn’t sure. He felt like he was being taken advantage of by his own choices. With that realization he gave into a temptation, a strange sort of malicious temptation that pulsated through his body. With his bronzed ankle tethered to his board, he swam after the jellyfish trying to attract its attention. Without eyes the jellyfish stared him down before elegantly swaying away. He bobbed to the surface, shaking his soaked hair dry. He propped himself up on his forearms against his board until he reached a sitting position. He sat towards the sun thinking. Perhaps the world wasn’t really against him. Maybe the only person against him was himself.
Mustard High Tops
She sat in the passenger seat of the black GMC Denali, sunroof open to the abysmal grey sky thinking to herself, convincing herself, that insomnia was a coping mechanism, not a form of self destruction. He sat in the driver seat, but it felt like there were miles between them rather than inches. She tried to ignore the fact that she could feel the vibrations his restless leg sent through the car.
They both wanted love. Well she wanted it. He needed it. She gave him everything she could. It took all of her light to warm him just above the point of freezing. But she was the kind of woman who looked through a man, not at a man. Her eyes belittled, demeaned, and infuriated...crumbling the exterior of his masculinity the longer she gazed. She couldn’t help it.
His brown ever-so-slightly curly hair, parted at the center, fell to his shoulders. He looked like a little boy. His eyes so pink and swollen. They sat facing the vast cloud-filled sky, trying to distinguish where the horizon lied between water and air. Trying to distinguish where love lies between infatuation and lust.
Their shared mesmerization was broken by his door opening and shutting with a slam. She followed his mustard yellow high top converse towards the chain link fence with her eyes. He stood in solitude, looking to the ocean as if in search of himself. The mustard high tops strolled back to the car to retrieve something, and swiftly returned him to the barrier between the overlook and death, now dressed in a black hoodie.
The smell of weed wafted through the windows of the car. She watched as he sat beneath a low palm tree and a power line smoking. Clouds billowed from his lips and high above him different clouds obscured the sunshine.
She thought to herself that she loved him and she loved herself. Yet, the only way for him to learn to love, was without her.
She got out of the car and ran towards the overlook.
Never to be seen or heard from again.
The drive was long. It gave her time to notice things. Obscure things that she liked to think only she noticed.
For example, the street names perpendicular to his neighbourhood were all spices. She tried to taste them as she drove by: cinnamon, vanilla, nutmeg…
Nutmeg was the hardest to imagine. She always mixed it up with allspice and cloves.
She was learning to divide distance with each of her senses. From her door to his, she had to conjure up dozens of flavors to taste. She had to listen to 8 songs on the radio. She had to see 40 different places where the roads diverged. She had to smell the fuel exhaust permeating through her air conditioning vents. But hardest of all, was feeling. Feeling how stretched the cord was that attached his heart to hers. As she drove closer she gained slack and as the intangible cord relaxed, so did she.
As she walked barefoot on the gravel and stones leading her away from the lapping shore of the lake she noticed that the skin on her legs was peeling. The arid summertime climate was drying out her water coated skin. Pausing in her track she used her thumb and forefinger to meticulously peel a piece of skin away from her calf like a sheet of tracing paper. She felt like a snake shedding its old skin.
Time moved so slowly. Or really fast. It never felt like time just moved the way she wanted it to. Distance made it harder. Harder for her to feel like she was enough. How could she be when the person who meant the world to her was a world away?
“3...2...” they whispered in unison, but on “2” she took off running, and his lips didn’t utter the number 1 until they were inches below the deep cerulean water. His head bobbed up from below the lakes rippling surface and he shook the water from his hair, running his hands through it. Shaking his head back and forth in disbelief his eyes scanned the water for her.
A few feet away she was floating on her back under the pale yellow light of the crescent moon.
She must’ve been the most beautiful thing he’d ever seen. He paddled towards her, the crisp night air tingling his toned forearms with every motion. She seemed unaware, dazed, as if she were all alone, somewhere entirely different. But really it was only her mind that was elsewhere. He scooped her up in the water and his touch restored her sense of self. Her mind reunited with her soul and she laughed and protested being held until she was up against his bare chest straddling his hips under the water. He didn’t kiss her. He just looked at her, wanting to meet her eyes, but she stared longingly at the moon. Her blonde hair soaked by the water became brown and it clung to her face and arms and back...much like how she clung to him. She hummed their song as he drifted away from her outreached arms...he always left her wanting more...she never felt like she was enough for him. Yet she was more than enough for herself. Her mind truly did wander a lot but she tried to just follow her soul. Against reason it’d led her to him, and that wasn’t so bad. She loved herself. More than the golden shimmering moon or the scintillating silver stars dotting the sky...more than she even loved him. But sometimes, on nights like these, she craved a different sort of love. A passion stronger than the love she gave herself. Yes, he followed her into the lake, but, well...she didn’t know. They weren’t soulmates. But they were in love. Or at least in love with the idea of it.
It was like holding your breath underwater as a little kid. It felt a little scary, you weren’t exactly supposed to play like that, and for some peculiar reason your nose always tingled when you finally resurfaced for air...and even though the sensation was the same each time, the game always remained surprising. The thing was that he was holding his breath on land waiting for her. And what’s worse was that he didn’t know when the game would ever stop.
Lately I have felt frustrated trying to decide what I want to be doing with my life. Yet, the question I keep circling back to is: Why do I feel so rushed to figure “everything” out??
Humans are innately programmed to fulfill desires and we notoriously compare our accomplishments to others. I know that personally I have experienced measurable growth over the past year and comparison makes my successes feel insignificant. Many of my friends just completed their sophomore years learning at universities while I spent the year learning in my own way through experiences. To say that one of these paths is unequivocally better than the other isn’t helpful to anyone. For me, learning to travel on my own, learning what it means to be in a loving relationship, and learning about children’s literature and illustration has been important to my personal growth. I am moving at the pace that’s right for me and even if that means feeling confused or stagnant on occasion, eventually everyone will end up at a similar destination.
In considering my feelings this week I wanted to include abridged versions full of wisdom from previous blog posts in which I’ve explored topics including decision making, identity, and comparison.
“We treat desire as a problem to be solved, address what desire is for and focus on something and how to acquire it rather than on the nature and the sensation of desire, though often it is the distance between us and the object of desire that fills the space in between with the blue of longing” ((Rebecca Solnit)).