Today I went east. I wasn’t nearly as fun of a drive, but I’m at a beach that is new to me, so it’s perfect. It’s actually a well-known beach (thus the reason I’ve never been here), but it is almost empty today. It’s nice and warm and the sun is shining down. There is a nice breeze which is coaxing gentle little waves ashore. There is nothing in the world like that sound.
I work up feeling a little better today. I’m not sure why, but I’ll take it. I washed my hair (it’s been over a week) and I opted for my red lace-up sneakers instead of my gray slip-ons. I pulled my freshly washed alumni t-shirt on (one of my favorites) and slipped my light gray NorthFace jacket on over it. I actually ate a little breakfast today, too. I washed it down with my mix of OJ and Sprite, wishing I was burning my throat with hard liquor instead. I wanted to leave earlier today, but I was still too tired, despite getting good rest last night. I slept for a couple hours before heading out, leaving another little post-it for my husband.
On the drive here the volume was up as I listened to a rather eclectic mix of music. I loved pressing my foot to the floor right as the bass kicked in and vibrated the whole car. I also loved the deep, soulful voices caressing the wind as they sang of love. Even the guttural voices that screamed of anguish and desire were somehow enjoyable. But that was then, and this is now.
I spy a tiny piece of beach glass and tuck it into my pocket. I pull my long, curly, air-dried hair up into a loose pony. I think I’ll wander this beach some before I resume my writing.
I have wandered farther than I anticipated. I keep an eye out for more beach glass as my sneakers push through the sand. I come across a variety of people as I walk: a set of lovers reclining on a break wall laughing and talking; three different single women, each lost in the view of the water and her own thoughts; and then three young men lying on their backs on the sand talking and looking toward the sky.
As I round a bend, I see that the beach continues even further. The lake is showing off it’s ribbons of color today. Deep blues showcase the depths of this lake, while the pale greens and blues highlight the shallow areas and the peeks of sunlight reflecting off the water’s surface. A lone, bare tree stands at the base of a breakwall. A trio of Canadian geese squawk overhead. I love the lake like this. To the west there is less city, but you can only see across the lake as far as the islands. But here, the sea is vast with no islands in sight, just blue melting into blue where water meets sky. The sun shines down warm and bright, so I remove my jacket, tying it around my waist. Out of the corner of my eye, I see strands of blue and green as my hair dances in the wind. A smile tugs at my lips as I realize those strands are the same color as the beach glass gems I have tucked in my jeans pocket.
I have wandered well past the beach to the rocky shoreline. Beach glass is more plentiful the farther away I get from civilization. I go as far as the shore will allow, but eventually I turn back knowing that time is beginning to press. I begin to meander back to my car, promising myself that I will return in the future. I am quietly pleased to see that I have outlasted the others that were initially on the beach.
The drive back was great. Usually I’m not a fan of driving through the “uppity” cities (where I can get nasty looks for driving a Honda instead of a Lexus or Porsche), but it didn’t matter today. When I got in the car I heard Axl’s voice come through the speakers as he sang about his version of a paradise city. I’ll take my blue lake and warm sand over any other paradise. So I cruised through their little snobby city with both front windows down, my hair swirling wildly around me, singing along to Journey. I must have looked crazy next to their compact sports cars in my big red AWD SUV. Didn’t matter. I loved it. By the time I got to the highway, I had switched stations again and I was dancing to the bass as I pressed the gas pedal to the floor. Even now, with the music silenced as I sit in the parking lot of m daughter’s very conservative private school (she’s there on a scholarship), a smile still tugs at the corners of my lips. This is nice. I hope it continues.
Later that night . . .
Today was actually a good day. I ate dinner with my family and we laughed together. I laughed! When we went to bed, my husband and I talked a bit about our days. I realized that I have been keeping him completely shut out. He hasn’t even known where I have gone each day besides east or west and “I’ll probably end up at the lake.” He has never questioned or pushed. How is he so good to me? He mentioned tonight that our senior pastor wants me to call him soon. When he said that, my mood immediately soured, which surprised me. I really love our pastor. Heck, his wife is one of my dearest friends! Yet, the thought of his wanting to talk to me, of him taking on role of pastor, not just friend, definitely dampened my mood. What am I supposed to say to him? That over the past couple of months I have started spiraling? That during that time I have received more comfort from an actor (Jared Padalecki) I have never met, than from the church? That on the darkest days it has been not a verse, but Jared’s mantra of “always keep fighting” that has kept me going? I don’t know that he wants to hear any of that. I don’t want to be the one to tell him any of that. I don’t really want to tell him that going to church (at least our church) fills me with dread. I don’t want to vocalize how I feel somewhat abandoned and dismissed by our church, while I know that they have tried to do right by us. Pastor is a good man and he carries far too great of a burden on his shoulders. I don’t want to add to that anymore than I have already. So what do I tell him? That right now I’m perfectly content without church, without the Bible, without prayer? That I know I’ll get back to it someday, but it’s not today? I can’t see myself saying those things out loud to anyone, much less to my pastor. So I guess I will find excuses why we can’t talk. I’ll press on doing what I’m doing and hopefully he lets this slide.
P.S. I don’t necessarily feel like I should feel guilty for finding comfort in Jared Padalecki’s words. Depression, suicidal thoughts, and anxiety are things the church seems to view as weaknesses. They are things that “good Christians” don’t deal with, nevermind the obvious science behind the chemical imbalances in the brain. When I stumbled across Jared’s words (and charity), it clicked. Here was someone voicing the very thing I was desperately battling and trying to understand. He all of a sudden made it okay to acknowledge that I was not well and needed help. It wasn’t weakness or selfishness or something I just made up in my head. It was real and it was okay to admit that and face it. The mantra of “always keep fighting” spoke to me at my darkest. When I couldn’t fathom what the next month or week would bring, I was reminded that I just had to get through this day. Just today. That was all I could handle and that’s what I had to cling to. It is kind of a shortened version of the verses that talk about not worrying about tomorrow, but those verses are usually taught in the context of worry being a sin, so good Christian girls shouldn’t deal with such things. AKF reached me where I was and I think it will continue to push me through. For that, I cannot and will not feel guilty.