What do I want? Why am I really doing this? For some of us, every passing day holds the weight of a collective year. How are you spending your time?
I wake up and decide that whatever happens today must be outside. I pack everything I can think of and head to the park. Ready for anything, I trek up the hill with my meditation pillow, my portable desk + cupholder, green juice, and my clever, acrylic paint dripped drop canvas. On the edge of the lawn, I find the least dewy section I can carved out by heavy evergreen branches. Dragonflies and other unknown woodland insects fly around my shoulders. This is their turf and what I imagine would be taller grass if it were allowed to keep growing. I’m on their level looking out, so I suck up the occasional bite here and there. I’m only mildly concerned about the tall trees rustling behind me. The other night on local news we heard about mountain lion attacks in Edmonton Parks. I’ve been here enough to know that this probably won’t happen this time since it hasn’t any of the other times, but we’ll see.
Across the shaded lawn, a young woman sets up what looks to be a children’s birthday party. She chooses a picnic table to fill with bags of supplies. No one helps her set up. She probably likes it that way. I know I would. Behind this one scenario there is a really large family, picnicking and enjoying themselves, creating their own space. They’ve been here for hours. You know you’re healing when family events (even the ones that aren’t yours) are welcoming again. When you’re used to standing behind a wall, or behind a secret, it’s hard to re-learn what it means to be a part of something. It’s not that we don’t want to be a part of the group, it’s that we aren’t equipped with those skills yet. My secrets kept me from people, but I started thinking about the best kept secret of all. Since I’m just learning about my truest self as something within me, then that in itself is a secret. I am my own best kept secret. The key to feeling a part of life could be just that. This new mentality, combined with finishing The Bright Hour, makes me crave the feeling of being a part of something. What felt impossible before, is now happening slowly. Love is real and deeper than ever before.
My words can’t compare to, or possibly even contain the things I have inside of me right now. I do my best, but this feeling is different from anything I’ve ever seen, or felt before. The things I feel now, and the way I try and express them, don’t quite match up all the time, but underneath the dragonflies and daydream philosophies, I sense there is a heavier cloud stepping around waiting to rise up and make itself known. You know something they don’t, and once you know that you will be unstoppable. Two more women make their way across the lawn with party decorations. They’ve just arrived wearing tall pink party hats. I want one of those hats (my brother and I look awesome in party hats). Now they hang a bright piñata from the best tree for the party. They test the rope up and down making sure it works. It does, and it looks perfect like something you only imagine and never actually witness.
I crave memories like I used to crave alcohol. I miss the warm and settling memory of Christmas Eve with my whole family in matching pajamas by the fire place. I miss early morning coffee with my dad watching the news. I miss going to the beach with my whole family because if I could be there now I wouldn’t be so worried about my fat stomach. We miss a lot when we get sober because we missed so much while we were drinking. We miss remembering sober memories even. I miss seeing Lyndsay’s mom pull their van up our sloped driveway to take us to dance. I miss my sister just in general. The best part about missing all of these things is feeling them now because I am all of the selves I’ve ever been. I am there on the beach being fine with my family. I am every christmas eve with my siblings because I am all of the moments before here and now.
There are now two birthday parties happening in front of me. This one has streamers, balloons, and a dog without a collar or a leash. They just have a long rope tied around his neck that this little girl keeps pulling. This situation and the back drop of the other party with the piñata testing is super crazy (WHAT IS HAPPENING?), but everyone seems fine with it. They shake out big pink table cloths. These are real fabric table cloths. This is quite the party. I’m learning a lot here just by watching. Now I crave this action of putting up party decorations outside in some big park like this.
I crave shelling with my mom early in the morning before anyone else in the whole beach house wakes up. She lets me go off on my own and do what I imagine to be yoga because that’s what I imagine grownups do in the morning on the beach. We meditate in the sand, after filling our sand pales with sand dollars. I miss my mom like that. I crave another night at a crab seafood restaurant with my cousins, and my aunts and uncles in Tampa. Our tanned and slightly sunburned faces gathered together as the sun goes down. I crave this. For me, alcohol took up all of the room for craving. You’re not allowed past the alcohol craving into these fleshy, human-memory cravings because once you fulfill the need for drinking, it changes you. You don’t get access to these precious, sober thoughts anymore. You forget how much you loved your new matching Easter outfit with your little sister more than life itself. You forget that you held her hand and you both went exploring through the backyard like it was some wonderful place you’d only just discovered. You forget about how soft your grandmother’s hands are when she reaches out to hug you at every age you’ve ever been walking through that front door in Gainesville. You do not see those yellow butterflies that were once the only sign you had left to know that God might be around. You don’t get these moments. You get the gist of the moment. She says nothing and everything in the silence with this secret. So far, all of these things I miss so much have returned to me bit by bit in strange ways. Sobriety is strange and beautiful. Once you think you’re doing it all wrong, another paint chip falls. Your window shows a little more glass, and even though you forgot, there it is. You are held. ❤