This is stream of consciousness from my efforts at NaNoWriMo last fall. This is fiction. I wrote 1,000 words a day for 30 days. This excerpt was selected at random this afternoon. This is raw data. For better or for worse, it’s unedited.
I finally arrive and set up as close to the ocean as possible. Only a few people are out. I stretch out my sheet and lay my belongings on top. I quickly strip down to my suit. It’s a simple black bikini this time, and I’m aware of a few appraising eyes glancing at my glutes. I tie my hair in a messy knot atop my head and stride toward the ocean. I sigh as my feet, right first, then left, touch the cool, clear water. The bottoms of my feet barely register the little shells underneath.
I walk on.
The water is to my ankles. My calves. I stretch my hands out, beckoning the water to me. Beckoning my spirit to it. I keep walking. My hips are underwater now. I stop and slide down, until the water is at my neck. On my knees, I am still. I play a game with the water, keeping my abs tight, trying not to move my body. It’s good exercise.
Once fatigue sets in I stand up and walk a little deeper into the water. The waves come toward me and I draw them to me with big sweeping gestures to pull the water in. a little ritual. I say a little prayer – I welcome all the blessings and love of the universe into my heart, into my life. I turn around, facing the shore. Starting at my chest, I push outward, pushing the water away. I say another prayer – I expel all of the thoughts and doubts and sadness that no longer serve me. I pray that all the negativity is transmuted for the good of all mankind.
I turn around and repeat this ritual several times. Then I just play in the water for awhile. Spying the few people in the ocean with me. Admiring the sun. I swat at the schools of fish to see what they’ll do. They change direction and keep moving. There’s a lesson in that.
After about 20 minutes, I decide it’s nap time. I stroll back to the beach and begin untying my hair. I towel off and spray the Banana Boat liberally on my exposed skin. I add sunblock to my face and don my floppy beach hat. I stretch out on my back and begin dozing to my favorite sound in the world.
I wake up a few times and turn over. Don’t wanna be too brown on one side. Eventually I can no longer ignore the gnawing in my stomach. It’s lunch time. It’s been a long time since I’ve eaten alone. I tell myself it’ll be fun. Like old times. Relearning to enjoy singledom and solitude?
I begin driving along the causeway just looking for someplace that might have some good fried oysters. I eventually stop at a Green Iguana. I know for sure they have good turkey burgers, and that would be yummy too.
How many? Asks the host. His spiked Mohawk just cool enough.
… Just one.
He begins to lead me to a table when I ask to go outside. I sit at one of the tall tables, remembering the last time I was here. Sophia and I met in person for the first time. She was a friend of a friend who thought it would be nice if we connected. It was. We did. Although I never saw her again after that. Our lives simply weren’t in sync.
I ordered the turkey burger I wanted. Avocado and pepper jack cheese. Lettuce, tomato. No onion. Fries. Yummy indulgences. I brush away tears from time to time. I savor each bite although I secretly want to wolf it down and get out of there as quickly as possible. Another round of tears I hide as those darn allergies. I even pull out a book to read. Zora Neal Hurston keeps me company. Probably not the most upbeat book in places, although it’s one of my favorites. Maybe I need to get a comedy or something more neutral that doesn’t involve relationships at all.
I think about going to Barnes and Noble to find another book. Then I remember, that’s where I met Daniel. I have a library card. I can go there instead. Or I can go home and download some ebooks.
I tell myself it’s okay. I’ll be okay. Today it’s just an exercise to prove to myself that I can be alone. That I can continue. Tomorrow I’ll do something similar. Go to my favorite dinner spot. Maybe I’ll even cook by the end of the week.
And one day, I’ll even remember what happiness feels like.
I posted a fiction excerpt one other time. Check it out here.
My cousin got married last fall. Like many weddings, it was an occasion for family and friends to reminisce, reconnect, and bond. The wedding reception found me tucked away in a corner with a few cousins, most notably, the beautiful, often elusive, V. She inquired about my dissertation defense, mere days away, and my future plans. At that point I only knew I had to move. The sooner the better.
Home, Not Home
Athens had never been home to me, and Atlanta, although a great city in many ways, didn’t feel all that homey to me either. That I was born and raised there was immaterial. It wasn’t “home.”
V, a flight attendant, gushed about her love of NYC. It was her favorite city. She felt like herself there. Despite her world travels, there was no place she’d rather be. I wondered where my NYC would be. I knew it would be some place with a mild climate, near beaches, but that’s as far as I could figure.
I finished my Master’s degree 11 years ago. Since then I have moved seven times (four of those between GA and FL). Most of those moves were one and two year stints, and I usually knew they were temporary going in. I realized I was closer to finding home a year ago when I left St. Petersburg to return to Athens, and found myself aching for the luscious green grass, the humid, salty air, and the calming beaches. But even though there were many things I liked, even loved, about St. Pete, I still wasn’t ready to call it home.
A few weeks after the wedding, I graduated and found myself “in between.” I don’t do in between well. Job hunting and city hunting, I felt I had no clarity on next steps. Eventually it all took a toll on me and left me feeling kind of blah. Finally, I made some decisions, and in true form, the universe responded in kind. Within a few days I had a job offer, a clear path, and a new city to try out.
Where the Heart Is
This move was the first one during which I felt I were moving toward a new life. It felt permanent. Real. Settled.
I knew I was on to something when I had to visit my “hometown” (Atlanta) a few days after my move. Traveling to the airport, I was a child being dragged inside from the playground. No! Don’t wanna!
At the end of my three days there, I smiled inside, happy to be back on the plane heading back home, even though home was just a few days old.
Everyone who visits my new digs mentions how I seem poised to start a new life here. To them it feels like home.
To me too.
Yesterday I really had the blues. I’m still not quite sure why. I felt like a visit to the ocean was in order, even though it was a cloudy, rainy day. It was also a pretty cool day…very unlike the high 90s we’ve experienced lately. Still, water beckoned and I went.
A wedding was just ending, but I wasn’t in the mood to scope out the happy couple or offer fake smiles to the guests, so I drove past my usual spot and parked a tad further up the lot. I snatched an area pretty close to the water and sat down. And listened.
I started to journal just in time for raindrops to fall. I looked up at the sky asking the clouds if they were serious? I mean they appeared to be breaking up and yet here were the drops, threatening to ruin my journal.
No one around me seemed phased by the drops – which didn’t phase me in the morning as I ran in them. I embraced the rain just a few hours earlier, but sitting, trying to commune with the ocean, I was on the edge of annoyance, willing it to stop. I wasn’t happy about the idea of retreating to my car to sit out weather, but no one moved, so I held firm too. That is, until I had the overwhelming urge to go stand in the water. Really it was more of a command. As I sat there trying to talk myself out of it, I suddenly popped up and found myself heading to the shore. As soon as I stood there, I knew it was the right thing to do. The tide was coming in, and as I waded in a bit, the waves started splashing higher and higher up my legs and thighs.
I knew I had to go to the car and break out the emergency swimsuit. I returned to the water just in time for the rain to stop. I alternated sitting and standing, as the waves also alternated crashing down or gently rolling in. Twenty minutes in the water, and I was as good as new. I let the salt water take those blues away and fill me up with determination to keep moving forward. And more importantly with the fortitude to remain open, as my spirit guides keep reminding me to do.
After my romp in the water, I sat back down in my chair, enjoying the sunset. The clouds broke apart to show off the gold, orange and pink rays, and even exposed a hint of blue sky for the first time in what seemed to be a week. The sunset was literally the brightest moment all day. I came home feeling like myself, grateful for the simple magic of the elements.