Saturday, March 1, 2014

Laughing Out Loud

Bleary eyed, sitting in the Baltimore/Washington airport waiting for my flight home and I really wish I could say I was looking forward to it. I used to have a really hard time being away from home for more than a few days, I’d need to get back to base, but HQ is feeling less a place of comfort and more a place that is stiffling. Clutter, literal and emotional, the minutia of day-to-day life, the overwhelming details and responsibilities and the lack of time and resources. Things have to change. I’m tired of hearing myself say that.

I never thought I could be away from my kids for a week and not ache for them, but I don’t. I’m embarrased to say that, but I am acutely aware of the absence of that ache which has been a constant for so many years. I feel guilty. Maybe this is how you feel after you’ve been a parent for 18 years. It goes by in a flash, but it really is a long time, a long haul. It’s been the joy of my life, but it’s worn me down, it’s all worn me down. That’s my fault, I let it wear me out because I don’t have balance, I’m not a natural creator of balance. I’m feeling in need of change despite all the change that’s happened in the last few years. I want to move, but I know that’s more than I can take on and I know it’s not the right thing for the boys, but I’m ready for a new space, a new start.

I had a glorious trip. The weather was perfect and warm, breezy and tropical. My TC (travelling companion) makes me laugh. I wonder why I don’t laugh so freely in my day-to-day life. I have been aware of the absence of genuine laughter in my life, but I realized it more spending a week just laughing out loud at every little thing. Maybe it’s the comfort of being with someone I’ve known for 30 years and who knows and accepts me on every level. I don’t censor myself, I’m not worried about being politically correct, or looking like an idiot, I can just laugh, and I suppose we’d not have been friends for so long if we weren’t simpatico on an essential level.

And for me, who lived alone for far longer than I actually lived alone, the ability to have physical ease with someone is profound for me. We are lifelong, plutonic friends, but I can lay my head on his shoulders or hold his hand with comfort, a comfort I didn’t have after decades of marriage. This continues to break my heart. This will always break my heart, and the knowledge that there are no do-overs, no going back, no deposit, no return.

The only salve for which seems the most unlikely... scuba diving, really, who the hell would’ve thought? When I’m under the water, weightless, flying, gliding, my mind is clear. I am in the present like I’ve never experienced in my life, and I’m thrilled, elated, at peace. My only thoughts are “don’t end, don’t end”. I want to leave the group and just keep going and going and going, just swim away. We did a wall dive and maxed out at 92’. I would have gone deeper, but I’d already gone further than I was supposed to and the dive master was waving at me to come up. At one point we got to an endless sandy plain. Blank stretch of sand for as far as the eye could see and with my fabulous prescription mask (only $35 extra), I can see far. It reminded me of the vastness and the curious beauty of the great salt flats in Utah. I wanted to swim straight out forever, but I had to stay within the general range of the dive master. If I were on my own, I don’t think I could restrain myself.

I’m a worrier, I worry the kids will be in auto accidents, I worry about my health, I worry where little dude will go to high school and what he would do without me, I worry about finances, and above all else, I worry about being on time. It’s the one thing I’m really OCD about. I can’t stand the thought of keeping anyone waiting, or being left behind, so I’m always early and always rushing, always trying to keep up and not get lost. Underwater, I don’t care, you’d think that’s where I’d care most, yet I am so absorbed in my own experience, I lose the group and I don’t panic. I just slowly 360ยบ until I see bubbles in the distance and then I don’t rush over, I go at my leisure, at my bliss, no fear, no worries.

I’m claustrophobic, I sleep with my door open, I don’t like elevators, but I dove through a Cenote, a series of underground caves and pools, some tunnels are quite narrow and dark and I loved it. We surfaced in a covered pool at one point that was a bat cave. We could see clusters of sleeping bats all over the domed ceiling and walls, and bats darting about the cave. There was a narrow tunnel with light beaming in where the bats come and go from. Apparently, snakes like to hang out there and snack on the bats on route. It was incredible. The Yucatan peninsula is without rivers, all the water flows underground, visible only through the Cenotes.

I’m bothered by my overall weakness on land. On our first excursioun, I shakily, yet successfully stepped from the dock to the boat, from the boat to the seat, but when I stepped from the seat to the floor, I suppose because of my neuropathy, the nerve damage from chemo and my brain not sending and receiving the correct messages, when I stepped to the floor, the swaying, non-grounded floor of the boat, my leg crumbled under me like a potato chip. It’s as if my brain didn’t get a signal that I’d touched solid ground. This has happened before on boats and I’m realizing it’s more than clumsiness, it’s as it the floor of a boat doesn’t count as solid ground as far as my brain is concerned, this is something I must keep in mind from here on in. I wiped out right in front of the other people and badly skinned my knee, bloody, yucky mess and embarrassing. All the muscles in my thigh clenched up, when I fell and it made walking for the rest of the trip difficult and painful which made the water, all the more glorious. It bothers me that I am the only one that can’t get my gear on or off on my own. I’m without adequate strength and flexibility, despite all my gym trips. It’s hard to need help, hard to ask for it and hard to accept it, and hard to have no choice. I was proud though, that despite getting into and out of the water, I am seamless. I learned so many new skills, have a better understanding and control over my buoyancy and the ability to equalize. There are, sometimes, folks who can’t do the second dives because they can’t get their ears to clear or they’re uncomfortable. Not me, if consecutive diving weren’t limited because of the nitrogen that builds up in your blood and would kill you, I’d go again and again and again.

It’s so thrilling to be learning something new and getting better and better at it. I haven’t done many dives, but I can comfortably say I’m not a beginner anymore, I have declared myself intermediate, and I have confidence now, I’m positive I can do it again. When I first learned to dive last August, I told my teacher that I had no desire to do deep dives or caves, or wrecks, I wasn’t a thrill seeker. I’m still not a thrill seeker because thrill, I think, entails some fear, and I have no fear. I don’t know why, but dunk me under water and my fear-based life evaporates and it’s glorious. I could never have predicted this, I don’t usually like to get wet except for in the shower.

My plane is running late, apparently the first officer encountered a sinkhole on the highway and they’re trying to round up another first officer. Last week G was running late getting my car home and I needed it at a specific time, so he called and told me he was going to be 15 minutes late (translate to 30 minutes late) because there was a big, dead dog in the street, a really big dog. I asked if he was the one who hit the dog, “no”. Are you trying to help the dog? “no”, “Well then why does driving around a dead dog take 30 minutes?” I bet that same dog ate his homework too, I bet that’s dog's been eating various homework for years. Points for originality, but I’d stick with traffic jam, if I were him. Of course, then I would tell him he should plan for traffic when I need my car at a specific time for a specific reason and he’d find me unbearable as he so often seems to.

We met a 61-year old woman, travelling with her daughter and son-in-law. She was spunky and told me she had no plans to age gracefully. Why the heck should she? Her husband had died only four months ago. Cancer diagnosis to death in five weeks. A rare form of ductal liver carcinoma (no ribbon for that, sorry). Her daughter and son-in-law took her on this trip because they thought she needed it and they were right. She said she'd only been married for seven years but her time with him was the best of her life and she had no regrets. Better to have loved and lost... She said he was fun, gregarious and adventurous and they travelled and scuba dived together. I think he’d be really proud of her and really happy she was going for a dive, you honor people by living.

We met a lovely young robotics engineer from Sweden, 31-years old and about to be married and then embarking on a two month honeymoon to Fiji, New Zealand, all sorts of fabulous places. I think he will be a lovely husband.

We met a sweet man from Texas who liked to dive while his wife went to the casinos and spas while they travelled. We met several men who’s wives were at the spa, but that status was always delivered with affection and sweetness that comes with real partnership. I’m all for the spa, but given the choice, I’m putting on weights and sinking. I have a hard time spending money I know I don’t really have, so can’t really justify the spa, but I can justify the diving because it’s just too, too good. Everyone I met travels a lot which makes me wonder where I’ve been.

Waiting on the plane that is running late, late, late, but I have a nice comfy spot at the gate and a tall iced tea, so I’m all set.

Woosh, finally in the air. I’ll be so impressed if the tall one is really there to pick me up as we agreed. He gets my car for the week as long as I get ground transport and he stops by the house to feed the cats every day. Last trip I took a $40 cabride home and the cats were pissed.

I have high hopes. I hope when I walk into my house I’ll feel happy. I hope I’ll be happy to be home. I hope I get big hugs and my heart will soften, I hope I will discover my nerves have been soothed. I hope I can get my business resurrected and my bills paid. I hope I’ll be happy and not depressed when my divorce is final in a few weeks. I hope I won’t miss the Margarita’s too much or the warm breeze and freedom from reality. I hope I can pull off another trip, maybe four days in the Florida Keys by early spring.

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