Monday, February 26, 2007

In the moments before I come clawing back up for air

Alison and I were supposed to go visit a school today, but we got snowed in, so I've got unexpected free time that really shouldn't be free (there's too much waiting in the wings to fill it) but I'm going to take it anyhow and sit down and write; I need to write. This is going to be me just sitting in my purple chair and typing until my laptop battery dies. (It will die soon. I need a new one.)

I will type, and then I will decide whether to post this, or whether to delete, but that will be after. Right now I'm just going to type.

I am behind. I am overwhelmed. I am drowning - not the frantic thrashings of the first panic when you realize you're going under but are still swallowing air, but the slow, sweet sinking when you lie back and realize that the fingers of sun reaching down through the dark water are still beautiful, welcoming the embrace even as the pressure hugs you, crushes you slowly.

I haven't yet inhaled water. But I'm not ready to burn my lungs and muscles kicking to the surface just yet; I'm tired. I want to rest, think, watch the kelp waving on the bottom with the steady pounding of my pulse (not dead yet) and a low swishing of the tide the only sound in my ears, because I know when I pop up there'll be all manner and sort of shouting and babble again, and I'm not ready for that.

I'm happy. I'm always happy.

But I'm so tired.

I'm starting to feel it - not in my mind or my body any more, I've learned how to take care of those (finally) so they don't spaz, I can keep myself running. But a tired that's in my bones. Past my bones. Starting to get to the inside of me; the chaotic high-frequency oscillations that characterized my youth (why am I speaking of it as if it were past? I know it isn't) are damping down, I'm growing old, growing steadier. Still lithe and limber, and fast when needed, but no longer spasming random joy everywhere, spattering the walls and halls with it, wasting it because I had too much to give. I feel massive - not heavy, but worn, with frayed edges and a kind of gravity that takes a nonzero amount of energy to shift.

I feel like curling up in my little superhero cape and going to sleep. I want to make a nest somewhere so nobody will see me and just sleep; and as I sleep cities will crumble around me, bombs will fall, people will be calling for help, calls I could answer, but I won't listen. I'll give up the arrogance of thinking that I can save the world. Why did I ever think I could put the cape on in the first place? I'm just a person. Just one person. Just one very small, scared, very, very tired person. Who hasn't even started doing anything, and already she's tired of doing it.

When I thrash my way back up for air, possibilities will explode around me. And I know I'll be so hungry for them, I'll need oxygen in my lungs, that I'll gasp and gulp and swallow (with some seawater, and I'll cough and spit and vomit but I'll breathe) and I'll flail again, and find my strong steady stroke, and float awhile until the acid muscle sting stops cramping, and then I'll start dragging people back to shore, pulling them up, dragging them out of their own dark crushing kelp forest quiet drowning time back into the clamor of the world we're meant to breathe in.

I'm sorry I'm ruining your slow and peaceful sink. I need you to breathe, and scream at me, and live; we can't all stop and swallow water and sink down into the night alone. Slow shadows sinking into the black, down by themselves. No tiredness, but no fire either. No triumph and no fighting, no freezing wind or blowing whistles or the rasp of hot dry sand sticking to your wet body when you haul yourself ashore.

I can think of no greater honor, no greater joy, than to wear myself out in the service of something greater. (Than what? Than me? That's how people usually say it.) I want to skid into Heaven (I still believe in heaven, or at least I want to) on my knees, eyes wild, jeans torn - and when my heart stops leaping through my ribs, when I can breathe, I'll say between gasps "What a ride! Can I do it again?"

And God will grin and tell me to take a nap first. So I'll lie down and close my eyes (maybe shower first, and change into cool white robes, and crawl into a soft cloud-bed) and breathe quiet so it looks like I'm sleeping, and drift off into sleep even as I'm pretending... and then yawn slowly, wake up and stretch, enjoying the soreness of my muscles and the hot oatmeal and the cold orange juice and strawberries. Delicious, that moment of rest. And a slow wandering with old friends, floating feathered through the skies. But not too long. There's a world to save. And I'll fling off my halo like a frisbee, and scrub off the stumps where my wings were, and gently fold my robe for when I come back in 20, 70, 150 years (and put on my jeans - oh, pants!) and punch my card and tip my hat and jump.

And I'll plunge back down.

I'll never stop this, I'll never fix this. I'll always be tired. I'll always be this close to exhaustion, pushing the limits of collapse. (I'll learn how to manage it better as time goes on; I'll calm the spasms, be more focused, more responsible, follow through, be a steadying hand when folks need it).

I need to learn how to take a hand to do more than steady myself for more running. I need to learn how to keep hold of a hand when I'm the one who needs the hanging-on; I need to learn how to take a hug, stay in a hug, maybe someday even take a kiss. I need to learn how to be saved, but I don't want saving. Don't want dependence, ever. Folks assume I need a hand; I'm young, I'm a girl, I'm disabled, I'm naive, I'm ripping my hand away and running across the street to the honking of horns because I don't need you. I don't need you; I'm special; I'm fine. Don't worry. I'm fine. Stop fussing. I can do it. I don't need help. Let me help you.

Step into the limelight even if I don't want it. Or at least I say I don't. Being special but rejecting specialness so I don't feel too bad for having it because I don't want it. Not letting other people step up in their turn. No, you can keep sleeping. Stay there. I'll take a double shift. I can take it. It's not that you can't, just that I can. And I don't want to waste it, this ability to do things.

I don't want to be a grown-up any more, but I am, and I want to be what I am.

And my battery is about to die, and I'm a stupid idiot who doesn't care what she shares with the world (because she wants to share every damn thing she has) and I'm going to run with that sentiment and post this, no editing. Ha.

(Er... maybe some editing to put in the linebreaks. Apparently I need a double \n\n.)

3 comments:

Elizabeth said...

Amen.

Grant Hutchins said...

Ah, memories of senior year...

Don't worry, you can sleep a bit in the summer.

Nikki said...

I'm trying to put this into context with the conversation we had on whatever night it was.