Friday, May 7, 2010

Just one last ride

This is what it feels like to surf. You are in the middle of a river and water is rushing past. Of course the water is heading downstream. If it meets an obstacle, like a stone or a branch, it will find its way around it. If it crashes over a waterfall, it might pause for a moment to collect itself, and then it will keep going downstream.

It goes like this until it gets where it's going, which is I don't know where.

When you are surfing you, are smack in the middle of all this- only like a miraculous little hover craft, you stay in the same spot. The water is splashing both backwards and forwards, and you can sit right up on it, with only a little knowledge of how the whole thing works. You carve back and forth, or spin or do a somersault, but the whole point is not what you can do while you're in there, but that the whole world is rushing by and you aren't going with it.

This is my world right now. Everything is as good as I could ask for- reasonably ask for, anyhow. So here I am, carving through each day on a small green wave and the rest of life is flying by without bothering me.

I want to record this time, when things are suspended with style and precision and evanescence above my head. In a few short weeks I will have left it all behind, or it will have left me behind, and I'll be standing on a hill somewhere in New England missing what will then be called 'those days.'

It's a much better habit to write about good things while they happen, while I'm still surfing, than wait for a dreary moment somewhere down the line and look back with sadness that it's over. So here it is, good moments, caught in the air, alive and kicking.

I wake up whenever I want, which is enough to make me choose this life over any other life I might have. (Unless I can have that big farm house in Vermont or Maine with the bouncy toddlers and the Pulitzer prize and Hollywood calling for the the movie rights, I'd get up early for that life.) I drive in my car- my car, I have a car- so many years I had no car- into town and listen to WNCW play a program called Pickin on the porch, or Paul Simon sing the boy in the bubble or the baby with the baboon heart, and I go to the same cafe every day and order the same double shot drink, splash of cream and a straw.

And then I open up the computer and start to work. Whatever I can do. Whatever I can get my hands on. Because I am so rabidly, so ferociously determined to support myself- and support myself in my way, doing what I like to do. I've been a waitress with the psycho Moldovan workmates and I've been a 50-hours-a-week nanny for the Japanese family who collected glass objects and left them at toddler height all over the condo. And the whipping girl for the going out of business store which specialized in taking people's money and forgetting to put their order through. And I am going to figure out how to support myself on my terms, even if takes my whole life. No more pretending I smoke cigarettes so I can take the 5 minute smoker break during my shift, or curling up on the polka dotted baby blanket and crying along with the kid because his Couture onesie cost more than my week's paycheck.

So here I am. Scraping by for now, and it's enough, and I sometimes get so excited about taking a new idea from concept to creation that even my dreams are giddy.

And the girls- ah, the girls. Like mist, they drift in and out of my presence throughout the day. They whip me off in different directions- wing night at Char on Monday and taco Tuesday at the Boone Saloon, (and when you can eat a big meal out for three dollars and fifty cents, twice a week, you really start to believe big things are possible.) Not to mention the music festivals, cheesecakes, front porch evenings and other things that girls are good for.

I love that my friends don't call. I love that they know where to find me, so they find me. They appears suddenly and with no sound; it's as if they fall out of the shelf or pop out from the cupcake. I look up- there they are- come to relieve me of my work day. I love the days off that begin with lawn chairs and lazy plans, followed by old stores full of bottles of honey and cherry turnovers, and kayaking at the pollen thick waters of the Watauga dam. After we're tired and waterlogged, we shop for groceries together and make dinner with the windows open, engulfed in the constant spin of laughter and conversation.

I love an entire afternoon on the Nolichucky with Will, in the slender margins between his workdays. Pushing through the soft, polished surface of the river all the way down to Jaws, the play spot where we surf for hours. I even love the random little beat downs that hole occasionally doles out that leaves my helmet twisted and me gasping. I love drinking beer on the rocks between sessions and racing the trains across the railroad bridge, and drawing shut the evening by slicing tomatoes for fajitas while wearing pajamas, listening to archives of This American Life.

I have health insurance, a modicum of savings and a working car. I have a library card, things to occupy my time, and health. I have a daily routine that I look forward to each night.

It hasn't always been this way.

The radio croons the NPR blues, singing economy, economy, economy- people my age will consider this a forbidden word when we're older and we make the rules, I just know it. After the summer, my calendar lies empty and white, an incessant question. At night I dream of my own children whom I can't feed, and I wake up tangled in love and panic.

It all combines to create the sound of a river roaring past, and I wonder just how long I can balance here, protected on this fragile wave. Three weeks? Four? And then Boone spits me out, and I head North again.

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