Saturday, May 25, 2013

I May Be Going Mad, or Maybe Someone Just Messed With the Presets on My Radio

     I remember learning a few years ago from some supportive colleagues that grief messes with your attention span.  When my Dad, Sir died, I was unable to read a book for almost a year.  I couldn't get past a few paragraphs before I was distracted.  I'm struggling with that again.  Last week, I found myself skimming the newspaper, because the articles were too long for my wandering mind. Sigh.  At least I know now that it's "normal."

     The flip side of that is the delightful way a turn of a phrase, or worse, the chorus of a song gets stuck in my head and plays on repeat.  I'm not talking about the everyday earworm of a song that gets stuck in your head.  This is a very loud, repetitive drone that edges out more productive thought.  And thanks to an errant push of the scan button on the car radio, I am slowly being pushed into madness by Paul McCartney's 1979 gem  "Goodnight Tonight."  Why, oh why did Paul McCartney experiment with disco?!  " can say anything, but don't say goodnight tonight, tonight, tonight, tonight...."

   I'm not going down without a fight, though.  There is no way that synthesizer special effects and the chipper pleading of Macca are taking me out.  Not this time.

    I went to Newport yesterday for work.  The entire island was fogged in and the seas were very violent.  The wind carried an overpowering, but not entirely unpleasant, briny smell.  The angry, disjointed rhythm of the surf crashing against the rocks at Breton Point was jarring.  To my relief, I found the scene hauntingly beautiful.

     See, for my entire life I have sought solace in the sea when I've found myself in distress.  Only the sea is responsible for my grief.  So, I've been at a real loss for ways to cope.  Two weeks ago, I tried to walk "my beach."  It was a beautiful day.  I sat in the car for 15 minutes before I decided that I wasn't ready.  I drove away without another glance.

     I spent last weekend in Plymouth (yes, the one with the Pilgrims) at a conference.  It took me the entire weekend before I could even look at the water--and I was in a hotel that overlooked the harbor.  Sunday morning, though, I finally ventured out.

      It was an absolutely beautiful day. Sunny and warm with a gentle breeze.  I was a wreck, though.  The entire weekend, I was out of sorts.  I had hoped that spending the weekend with friends and colleagues who weren't as sad as I am would help.  They were wonderful and supportive.  There were moments of hilarity that lifted my spirits.  It wasn't the weekend I wanted to have, though.  And I spent almost the entire time on the verge of tears.  It was in this state that I found myself, miserable, sitting on a bench at the Coast Guard Auxiliary's station.

     The most notable feature of Plymouth Harbor is the 3500 foot long breakwater that protects the moored fishing boats and small sailboats from the Atlantic.  I love jetties.  Many of my best memories are linked to time spent on rocks jutting into the sea.  For my entire life, I've run surefooted and fearlessly across them.  

Until last Sunday.

    I was afraid.  I found myself watching every step.  Grabbing the guide wire.  Waiting for people to pass before moving on.  Sticking to the biggest and flattest stones.

 It. Was. Awful.
      And that's when my upbringing kicked in at its fiercest.  I got angry.  Angry that I was afraid.  Angry that I couldn't control that.  Angry that I couldn't control anything.  And, yes, angry that Evelyn and David are gone.

      And I aruged, with whom I'm still not sure--myself?  The Atlantic?  God?  As I argued, I kept walking.  Suddenly, I'm not looking at my feet anymore.  Suddenly, I'm not scared.  Suddenly, I'm at the end of the jetty.  The ocean didn't care.  Not a bit.  It just is.  And I found that oddly comforting.

I'm still not okay with any of this.  I'm good enough though. The ocean didn't beat me.  

There's no way Paul McCartney will. 


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