I had been looking forward to today. I love this beach, boardwalk, shops and everything about it. I had hoped Hurricane Sandy’s damage had been minimal and the people of this town were thriving. I had plans. I wrote it down, I thought I was ready for it. I was going to be here by 6 am to watch the sun come up over the water while I smelled the salt air and briskly walked the boardwalk back and forth. I was going to prepack all my food for the day and be cutely creative. I was going to wear a 2 piece bikini and rock it like I never thought I could do.
But by Friday night, my “oomph” for my beach day simply left and I wondered if it was worth the trouble at all. I had started to get the car ready. Then a phone call came in. Then an emergency came in. Then various phone calls from family members, my ex-husband, my daughter and others with all their individual dramas had me up until midnight and no closer to being ready. I was going to go to bed early.
I was gonna, I was gonna, I was gonna….and it was all GONNA go down the drain.
I hate it when I think I have something perfectly planned and then it goes to crap.
I was emotionally spent. The past few days I’ve had about 4 hours of combined sleep from phone calls, drama filled events and my own brain racing about my future. I had a very unplanned high calorie snack…and then some.. and then hated myself for it. I started crying. I wondered if I could do anything right. What if “they” could see me. You know..the THEY that are always there from our past, our present, our mistakes and in our own head. Questioned my value as a parent. Hated my aloneness and my life at that moment in time. I knew it was sleep deprivation and sugar talking. I listened to one more vent on the phone from the ex-husband with my eyes closed and wishing very bad things. Then Katie texted me telling me that she was sorry… for the texts and calls I was getting. And she told me how much she loved me. I cried some more and felt…I don’t even know if I have a word to describe the soup I felt in my head. (See, I describe things with FOOD!) I fell into bed, unpacked, unprepared and hoped I’d hear my alarm at 5 am. And didn’t really care if I didn’t.
I did hear it. I hit the snooze. I got up and laid down again. I got up, dressed and put on jeans and a t shirt. Changed into a tank top and capri’s. Pondered the bathing suit that was hanging on my door still with the tags from the store hanging on it. No. Not today. Not in the mood. Still didn’t know if I was going to be able to get out the door and head to Jersey. My cat, Stella, meowed longingly at me as if to say, “You’re leaving me.” I snapped at her. Told her to just leave me alone.
I looked at the clock, shaking my head. I should have been on the road by now. I didn’t even have a full tank of gas in the car yet. I quickly and half heartedly grabbed my insulated bag and threw in a couple apples, a couple of yogurts and quickly stuffed 2 raw bell peppers with deli turkey meat and low fat Swiss cheese. It didn’t look cute, creative and only slightly palatable. I stuffed them in plastic baggies, grabbed a few ice water bottles from the freezer (I always have some in there), threw it all in. Consulted my list I made earlier in the week of what I wanted to take. Food. Towel. Chair. Tablet for writing,(I call it my i-tablet, I have pen, I have a tablet…i-tablet) a book I’d been trying to read for months. My reading glasses and some pens. I’m good. What more do I need, I’m a gypsy.
I looked at the kitchen and remembered my die hard rule that I always told my daughter, Katie. You don’t party or go out until all dishes and the kitchen is clean. I forced myself to wash the dishes and the mix of culinary disaster and food porn from the night before. Did I really eat all that? What the hell was I thinking? I don’t even remember MAKING THAT. Oy. That’s how it happens when the stress and emotions kick up and you’re on the phone and next thing you know you’re mixing sugar free pudding, fruit, cereal, frozen yogurt and other things in there. God knows, there could have been meat in there for all I remember. Not there’s anything wrong with meat. It just reminds me of binge drinking, it’s the same frenzied physical response. You just DO, you don’t think.
No weigh in today. I can’t face the scale today. It’s already blaringly obvious I’m up. Why beat myself over the head with it? I’ll do it tomorrow, maybe. But no later than the next day. I already felt like shit, didn’t need to reinforce it. Today, we’re going to try to cleanse the brain and restore my faith in life and humanity….and sleep.
Got on the road, begrudgingly got gas (ugh, gas prices) and hit Route 309 south. Immediately after getting on the highway, a car flew right past me, beeping. I was puzzled. I didn’t cut them off. Guess he’s in a hurry. Another one flew past me. I really didn’t care. I looked down and saw I was going about 7 miles under the speed limit. I didn’t care. Traffic was fairly light. They can go around me.
Why was I even going? Well, my sister, neice and a friend were meeting me at the beach and were expecting me to be there. That was really my motivating reason, I still felt apprehensive and down on myself for a lot of things.
I turned on the Sirius XM radio and put on my favorite electronic dance music to raise my mood. Like a psychic fortune cookie, a song by Skrillex came on called Bangarang. Katie hates this song, but I’ve always loved it and always loved how it raised my mood and it was coming to the rescue. I smirked… a little. I was getting my mood back. When I got on the Jersey turnpike and saw the sign that read “Shore Points Exit 7A”, it finally became a full blown smile.
Soon I was crossing the bridge into Point Pleasant Beach and smelling the salt air. Already I could feel my brain being scrubbed of the negativity. I pulled into a very close parking spot at 7:48 and grimaced slightly. So much later than I wanted to start. But I was here. Now. Let’s rock and roll. I paid for my parking permit and started walking on the boardwalk before my sister called me. I looked around and saw the other walkers, runners, bikers, skateboarders (did I leave anyone out?) We were all out there wishing each other good morning. All ages, all colors, all body shapes and sizes. All of us in harmony doing our thing before the beach opened up for swimming. Nobody here knew I totally screwed up the night before. They didn’t need to know and they didn’t care. We were all out here TOGETHER.
Then it hit me… like it usually does… this whole thing was like my journey at times.
I started out feeling like garbage and so angry at myself for letting life and people get to me. I really didn’t WANT to do it, but people were counting on me. But the more you force yourself to clean it up, get in there, get serious and just DO IT right… it gets better. It gets good.
I met up with the group and I had already had several miles in on the pedometer. We set up our spot on the beach and it wasn’t a day of girlie gabbing. We were all there to purge ourselves of the yuck that was in our brain. This was a sisterly commune of taking in the vibrations of the sea and letting it wash us clean to start our week again with new life. I slept off and on for several hours (yes, I so needed that). I ate the food I brought. I didn’t feel like swimming but I wanted to get some sun. So I stripped down to my underwear knowing it could pass for a bikini and did just that. (Always wear pretty stuff in case you need to strip down! Like Mama said, always wear clean…and pretty… underwear… ok MY Mama didn’t say that but I AM saying to wear pretty underwear. Sigh…this is getting tangled…). After I woke up from a second nap and had lunch, I immediately starting doing some writing. I hadn’t done this in months and my brain was choked from lack of expression and it was screaming out my thoughts.
A guy on a trike even rolled past trying to get us to buy ice cream, soda and other crap. Nope, not tempted. I’m prepared… and so grateful that I was prepared.
I felt so clean in the brain again. I could think. I could process. I could laugh. The nightmarish conversations from the night before didn’t seem so bad. I didn’t hate myself anymore. I didn’t consider myself a bad parent, a loser in love or a food junkie that couldn’t quit her habit. I was me. In all my glory, perfectly flawed. Like that old photograph in the cracked frame, it’s got character and it just wouldn’t be the same if it looked brand new. That’s me. A few wrinkles from time and laughing. A few cracks from stress that make me… me. And I’m ok with that. I may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but that’s why there’s different FLAVORS of tea! Yup, these are the thoughts that roll through my head.
We stayed well past sunset and I parked several blocks from my sister so I trekked down to my car. Thought about extending my parking and staying another couple hours or into the starry night on the boardwalk…but thought, no. My time here today is done. I’m tired and need to get home to prepare for my week. There will be other days.
On the way back, my “trusty” GPS really goofed and had me jump off the New Jersey turnpike early. If I hadn’t been tired, I probably would have questioned it and gone with my gut. But since I had no coffee today (believe it or not), I found myself in the back streets of Freehold,NJ. Lost. Really lost and turned around. The GPS got totally screwed up because there was massive construction on the turnpike too. So finally I stopped in at a franchise hotel and talked to a very nice check in clerk who gave me simple directions to get back to the turnpike and told me which way I should be headed. I didn’t panic. I didn’t yell at my stupidness and go all fifty shades of Pam’s Profanity. I just stopped. Breathed. Thought it out and asked for help.
Yeah…. You know it. So much of this day, like our journey. We will plan things out. We will think we got it all going right and then there will be roadblocks and stuff that falls in our path. Keep calm. Ask for help when you need it. It’s all about keeping our head. Like I tell my kids, nothing good comes of anger. We will make mistakes. We don’t know how to fix things if they never break. We don’t appreciate good times unless we have some bad. Life really is a roller coaster.
One day at the beach can wipe out weeks worth of damage. Sometimes we just need to take a little break from life, step back and then jump right back into the fray again.
Sometimes we start out for different reasons.
Sometimes we don’t even want to start out.
Sometimes we just don’t feel like it, but we gotta go through the motions.
Sometimes we get lost.
Sometimes we cry.
Sometimes people are going to pass us and we will feel sluggish and a failure. Keep on. We all have our own pace.
Sometimes…well, most times… it really doesn’t matter what THEY think. But what do *I* think of myself, my actions, my words?
But sometimes….we come out at the end feeling quite different and ONEderful.
and when I walked in the door, Stella meowed at me. I petted her and said, “I’m good now. The bitch just needed the beach.” And she meowed in agreement.