Day 7 of 30. Essays ” The Life of Peggy. A thirty-three year old, Kind Of Single Lady.”
Maybe I am slightly insane. I am most definitely awkward. I imagine all aspects in life with No Pants on.
In The Deep End
Makeup in tears streaked down my face, hidden by the pouring rain.
Hair drenched as I slosh through the knee deep streets trying to get “home”. A Bump. Just A Bump. I kept telling myself , not a road block. I can’t control the rain. Let.Go.Of.The.Control.
My new shoes soaked, my slacks and coat too. The wind so fierce that I gave up on my umbrella. A cold front moved in, my hands froze…almost two weeks ago so similar, I remember. It’s ok, It’s ok, It’s….Oh God I can’t even see, mascara and sharp rain blinding me. I plunge into the next deep pool. I’m going to drown. The islands drowning…
Just thrown in. Sink or swim. From my earliest years when my Papa taught me this, as a restitution for my own bad mistakes …even then at six years old.
On January 9th, 2015. They said “Head down that hall and out the green door.” and suddenly. I was out. Free…and terrified.
I stood a split second with freezing cold wind and rain slapping me with harsh reality. No one was there for me.
I let out the sad and disappointed, utterly lonely on this earth, last breath of hope I’d held and stepped out, praying for direction to a God I wasn’t even sure existed.
I walked to the Salvation Army and found it full as well as me with no ID. I no longer even had that to go to. I couldn’t even do homeless proper. I turned back to the busy main road and continued. The rain not letting up. Me. Wearing summer clothes that I had been arrested in seven months prior. No clue where to go or if I’d even make it. My hands numb, thinking ” my feet aren’t cold” in my ballet flats…they had just already lost all feeling.
I walked fast paced to nowhere, head down, glasses wet with rain and blind. Trash bag with a few letters and writings I had written in hand. I couldn’t get past my shock at being out. This day. My shock of the cold rain. The shock of not knowing what to do. I nearly didn’t want to reach a destination because once I did…what would I then do? Four miles later I walked into the library, one hour before closing (must be instinct). People averted their eye’s from my now see through wet summer blouse, wet hair…obviously not dressed for this coldest of winter days. They pretended not to notice. I know that feeling and I suddenly hated myself for it.
If we pretend the problem doesn’t exist , it will pass onto being someone else’s problem. at least not our own. What happens when no one helps?
After emailing my mom and Matt to call my mom one friend showed up to offer a ride, $20 and a hug immediately. But I had nowhere to ride to. Humiliation set in deep as I soon stood on the porch of my moms best friend…and was soon turned away, after having been told to contact her previously. Her daughter was home alone and was freaking out about me being there. I turned back into the rain with only a borrowed sweater…and the realization that people feared me. I almost turned back to the jail, realized that I was…lost.
I wandered…just…wandered. The rain didn’t stop. It did finally let up slightly from time to time. I even went and stood in front of Matt’s old apartment where I had also once called home for a brief time. The lights lit up in the big victorian home looking so warm and soft. I knew he didn’t even live there anymore but….I dreamt for just a moment of comfort and warmth and old times and what if things were different….while standing in the freezing rain with not enough clothes on.
I sighed and walked away. I sucked it up and walked to a friends with an unsteady voice I asked if I was welcome and was welcomed with a hug and open arms. A lets get you dry and fed attitude. I learned that Matt and my mom and brother had been out searching for me but I wondered what they would have done with me had they found me….none had a place to offer me or money to put me up and none had packed even a suitcase of my clothes seven months prior to me losing it all.
I was handed a phone to call those looking for me and I felt that I was drowning, reprieve from the rain but facing people and questions and accusations and anger and….it continued. I wasn’t ready for what I’d spent seven months preparing for. Mom’s harshness brought chlorine water right into my lungs, burning as I struggled for the surface. I kept thinking ” just go back…just…go…back. I can’t do this.”
Matt wanted to see me. He came and held me in a tight hug until he could make himself believe I was really there. We went for a drive and he went into asking bullet fire questions. I was in shock and felt my body floating…let the water fill my lungs and my fingers just…loosen, let go as I gave him the answers that he wanted to hear. Why not? In my fog, in my shock. I couldn’t handle this. I just answered. He wouldn’t believe yes. He wouldn’t believe no. Nor the in-between. So just end the conversation. I staired out into the gulf waters and thought….I am drowning more here than if I were in there. My feet were still wet and cold and he was asking questions that didn’t even begin to matter. I weirdly thought ” why didn’t he ask me some that did?” He asked if he could hold my hand and said I was so “Goddamned pretty.” I just sat there not being confrontational. Nodding. Listening. Holding his hand and wishing it was the right thing to do. Knowing it wasn’t. Numbly thinking ” this is the man who abandoned me after promising he wouldn’t.” He just…wasn’t there for me but for himself. I got that. I did. But right now, I just couldn’t be there for someone else’s problems. I had sympathy and empathy for what this had put him through, but I had never planned myself to go to jail and didn’t , at the same time, feel capable of taking the blame for what I myself had also gone through and had not wanted. The chlorine filled up again and I stopped the struggle for the surface….I floated for the sunlit surface…so close…so far. This was my Deep End. The consequences to my actions. I’d lost Matt so many times and as he held my hand, pulling me down under the current rather than up and out to air, I lost him again…and I let go. I stopped swimming for him.
And I floated into one of my deepest memories.
When I was six years old at my grandparents Galveston condo pool , I would hold onto a ball and kick around the pool. I kept going into the deep end, not knowing how to swim. My grandfather would sternly instruct me to not leave the shallow end because if I lost the ball I could drown. But again and again I was being very defiant and would return to the deep end . So finally my grandfather reached down, pulled me up and took away my ball and threw me into the water at the deep end. As I splashed for the surface in utter shock and surprise, sputtering and choking, I looked at him and saw anger, but not anger, on his face and in his stance. Standing at the edge , ready to jump in should I not surface, but he said ” if you want to continue defying me you will learn the consequences of the deep in. Sink or swim!” He said ..and so I swam. Out of utter defiance of surviving my own consequences of my own decisions.
Twenty seven years later and this memory and his words came strong and I realized that, charge aside, I had been making bad life decisions that lead me to this situation and past all the other previous ones that had at one point or another left me dumb founded, and I was now paying for those consequences of my actions…and often my defiance at what I knew I should do rather than what I wanted to do and I was left to sink or swim because of them. Extra defiant because of my grandfathers image standing beside the pool burned in me and I was determined not to let him save me.
I have to swim now. And as the mascara runs into my eye’s in the pouring rain only two weeks back out into the world I am at a bump. Not a road block. And I slosh through another street and head to my temporary home.