Friday, April 29, 2011

High Diving

My childhood summer memories are a blur of waters, raisin fingertips, and brown skin. I lived to swim, to float, to be surrounded by the cool blue and inhale the chlorine.

I was always very comfortable hanging out in the middle depths, and would have stayed there indefinitely if my curiosity hadn't been raised by the swarm of kids by the diving boards. The pool in my grandparents' town had a high dive, a tease, a challenge that stared at me from the deep end. One day I decided to attempt it. I got in line and waited nervously as kids climbed the ladder and jumped the distance, screaming with either terror or thrill. My turn came, and I bravely climbed up. The climb wasn't difficult, and I was fully prepared to walk to the end and jump, until I actually walked to the end, looked down, and froze.

Here is one of my most embarrassing moments. I stood up there for what seemed like hours, just staring at the space between me and the water. After a while, a lifeguard climbed up to me and gently encouraged me to just jump.

"All you have to do is take that leap."

He was right. All I had to do was jump. It would be over in a moment, I would have accomplished the high dive, it would be fine. But the voice of doubt in my head wondered, What if? What if I hit my head on the platform? What if I belly-flopped? What if the fall wasn't exciting, but terrifying? What if the water miraculously disappeared in the 3 seconds it took me to fall and I landed on the concrete bottom of the pool and died splat?

I wish I could say that I mustered my strength and took the chance, jumped and all was well. I can't. I totally chickened out. With the entire population of the pool watching, I climbed back down the ladder and cried all the way to the locker room, humiliated.

I've been thinking about that high dive lately, and how that stupid trip to the pool has become the great metaphor in my life. Standing on platform, poised to jump, feeling the fear of the unknown and not being willing to chance it. Life's fucking scary sometimes. Uncertainty is uncomfortable. Change is a risk. Then again, stasis is just as bad. A shoe stuck in mud, teeth cemented by taffy. I'm not that girl anymore. I am the girl who jumps despite the fear and screams the whole way down. And I am the girl who surfaces.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

First page.

I've only once before posted a piece of my writing, my Nano project first page, but I kinda feel like sharing today. Here's the first page of my WIP, a rewrite of WHERE CURRENTS PULL. I hope I'm not embarrassing myself too much.

Chapter One

Monday mornings are like first impressions. They're your one opportunity to set a positive tone for the upcoming week, and mine was already not boding well. I woke up on time and was dressed, makeup on, hair done and ready to go when the annoying rumbling of my stomach sounded. Generally, I bypass breakfast, opting for several cups of coffee at work or, if I have the time, a latte. But Gretchen and I went out for burritos around nine last night to soak up our afternoon drinking, and late dinners always mean hungry mornings. Better than a hangover, but equally time-consuming.
No amount of coffee would satisfy my begging stomach and I knew better than to ignore it. I went to the kitchen and got out a bowl from the dishwasher, a box of cereal from the cabinet, and the milk from the fridge. I said a brief prayer of thanks that the milk hadn't turned, assembled my breakfast, and opened the silverware drawer.
I have an assortment of flatware: the ornately scrolled and slightly tarnished silver-plate I picked up at an estate sale, the modern, sleek Crate & Barrel set from my parents when I moved into my first apartment, the bronze-colored set that looked like bamboo I purchased just last week, the tiny and simple silver that I’d been willed from my grandparents. There are others, odds and ends I've accumulated over the years. I am the only person I know who has the large drawer completely filled with forks, knives and spoons- not a serving piece or kitchen tool in the mix. I even crafted my own holder by cutting two plastic utensil organizers and hot gluing them together to fit the entire drawer.
There's a lot to choose from. And that's the problem. I've always thought that the course of my life could change in an instant, that my path is determined, not just by the big decisions I make, but by each small one as well. The spoon I chose for my cereal this morning could be the perfect spoon, the perfect choice that would send me towards great things. The wrong spoon could lead me to disaster, the fateful choice that caused the cosmos to shift and propelled me to death in a car wreck or smiling at a hot boy with lipstick on my teeth. My future- the fate of the world- hung on the balance of silverware.
I had to choose right.
I looked at the spoons and felt pulled toward two. I picked them out of the drawer. One was my inherited silver, the one spoon with a minute notch in it that caught on the right side of my inner cheek every time I pulled it from my mouth. The other spoon was my Crate & Barrel. It was smooth, still shiny, and heavy in my hand. It never cut my mouth, so it should have been my choice, but decisions aren't that easy.
The muscles around my back and chest tensed as I weighed my two options. There must have been a reason I picked up the sadistic spoon. Maybe I deserved a cut-filled mouth. Maybe it was a karmic retribution for drinking on a Sunday. Or maybe my grandparents were trying to communicate with me from the beyond via this spoon. Letting me know that they're still watching out for me and sending their love.
Or maybe not.
I put the cutter back in the drawer, shook my head at myself for being so ridiculous, and allowed relief to wash over me. Decision made. I closed my eyes and inhaled deeply. My muscles relaxed and the flush on my cheeks cooled. A sure sign that I'd chosen wisely. I could nearly hear the ancient knight from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade grant me approval. Perfect spoon in hand, I picked up my cereal bowl. It was filled with a brownish mush that, at one point, I was certain had been cereal. My mouth twitched, and I poured the mess into the sink, fixed myself another, much smaller bowl because I was already late for work, and ate with fury.

Listening to: Band Of Horses "Infinite Arms"

xo. kb.