Head Down, Purpose Anchored
"We make red t-shirts, everyone’s making blue t-shirts right now. Don’t make bad blue t-shirts.
Carry on making good red t-shirts.”
- John Mayer*
I scooted down in the bathtub until the only part of me not under water was the part that was still exhaling. I watched people sink until the only parts of them that weren’t under water were the parts that were still reaching for more attention.
I scaled rocks to higher grounds until all the parts of me were surrounded by clean air.
I put records on until the only part of my mind not consumed by melody was the part that was composing lyrics.
I put on my favorite lingerie until the only part of me that wasn’t feeling myself was the part I wasn’t feeling myself.
I hit keys on my computer until there were no words left to write for the day. 1,500 words some days. Over 3,000 others. Each an ode to drowning moments, moments completely naked, moments where I had to hold my stomach from the laughs.
I navigated tomorrow in my head, knowing that I was having a record, reaping year. Ask and you shall receive. I sat in the weight of a health scare knowing that gratitude was all I was swimming in now. I swam through gratitude on my way to joy and let the sun hit me on my way to Asia.
I held worthlessness in my left hand and flicked it into the corner garbage can on my way to a tattoo, translation: fucking worthy, all mine. I skipped down the path of self-discovery on my way to reminding myself of my purpose. I picked up self-discovery and it showed me truth in unknown numbers, favorite numbers, and new numbers. Adulthood, it’s not for everyone.
I learned guided purpose was different than blind ambition because one gave, the other stole. I wrote lists and left them to die. I wrote letters and left them to rot. I wrote passages and left them for a daughter. I thought of a daughter, the irony of my life would be one day only having boys.
"is it too much to look me in the eye,
and listen to what i'm saying this time."
I sat in coffee shops and saw others write. The guy next to me, he doodled. The girl three seats down, she wrote poetry. The door to my left. The door to my left.
I thought of The Lion King. Of Simba. Of symbolism. Of Lilo and Stitch. Of ‘ohana.’ Of the definition of family. Of how I wanted to define my own. Of how defining love, a relationship, family, is a deliberate choice. Of how I defined staying. Of how I defined boundaries. Of how I learned points of no return were great spaces for u-turns or jumping fences, laughing all the way up, all the way down.
I thought about how feeling so close to death can make you realize how alive you are, how much you have to lose, or how you have nothing to lose at all. Which is sadder?
I dreamt of fast cars, open roads, writing sessions with my favorite Nashville songwriters, writing sessions in my favorite New York cafes, writing sessions with a new guitar.
Three chords and the truth.
I smiled because roots. I want roots. I want a Starbucks barista who gets to know me, who one day will smile at a toddler with my complexion and her dad’s eyes, who one day I’ll be able to say “today is publishing day” to. I smile because a book with an unwritten acknowledgment to the Starbucks table that let my stories come to life - that’ll be a day.
"flashback when you met me,
even in my worst times, you could see the best in me.
flashback to my mistakes, my rebounds, my earthquakes
even in my worst lies, you saw the truth in me.
and i woke up just in time."
I pull my knees up on the bench and rest my laptop on my lap, closer to me than a lot of people are these days. The song plays in the background, “It’s a lot of bad things that they wishing on me," ya know, “I hold back, sometimes I won’t.” God’s plan.
God. Talking to ceilings at him. Giving Him my first words of the day. Taking His permission to sit in anger. To not forgive until penance is offered because, yeah, God forgives all without question, but I am not God.
God. Asking to reap because I've sowed. Counting blessings like they're raining on me. Swimming in gratitude. Drowning in love. Sitting in silence. Until the book is bound. Until the hook is written. Or cast. Or nailed to the wall. Next to the empty shelf, you know the one.
"You know me."