Monday, Jul. 05, 2021 @ 1:30 pm
I crouch down and help her buckle her lifejacket between her legs. She holds my hand, and we wade out into the ocean together, through the thick slurry of seaweed at the shore. The water is warm, the tide having recently come in across hot sand.
Me and this six-year-old girl, out in the waves. I’m waist-deep, and she is dog paddling, rising up over each rolling wave with a shriek. I never let her out of arm’s reach. I see her begin to shiver, and I pull her towards me, and she clings to my side as we make our way back to the shore.
There are other moments like this, brief glimpses into motherhood. A small child leading me through the forest in search of huckleberries. Playing cards with an older child, telling silly jokes, laughing together.
Will I ever not think that there’s something wrong with me for not wanting this for myself? Maybe I would have in another lifetime, one in which I lived in a rural place, no career so to speak, instead a routine of daily chores. The washing, the kitchen garden, a trip into town for sugar. In that framework, I see myself mothering, and I know that I am good at it, though tending towards nervous anxiety, which I regretfully see appearing in them as they develop into complex beings.
We leave the children behind, with their parents, and paddle around the point to the naturalist beach. We rest our boards on the shore, remove our bathing suits, and wade out into the bay. This was the first nudist beach that I visited in my life, as a small child, wide-eyed at the withered and browned men, the interesting arrangements of items normally covered by shorts. How life circles around, and here I am now, the one without clothing.
Something is disturbed within me. Something is wrong, and I cannot discern the actual problem. I am walking through an old-growth forest, and my mind is elsewhere. I am at a climbing crag, overlooking the ocean, and I’m already thinking of what will happen later. I want something, I need something, but I don’t know what it is.
I’m tempted to blow up something in my life, to quit my job (of 8 years)?
I go back into the office, trying to re-capture my interest and spark. I find myself being oddly extroverted, chatty even, spending more and more time in the lunchroom. I don’t know who I am at work anymore. I suffer from imposter syndrome. I feel like I'm paid a lot, and then others hear my job role and tell me that I'm actually grossly underpaid and should be requesting more. I struggle to be a part of this, finding myself administering multi-million dollar projects and not believing in myself. Is this where I want to be? Is this what I want to be doing?
There are moments where I do feel myself. The peace and calm and centeredness. In the campervan, tucked into a dark corner of the forest, I reach out to him and am uninhibited, and it’s glorious. He tucks me under his arm afterwards, asks me how he found me, and we fall asleep together among the firs and cedars. Trust and compassion and partnership. It's almost too easy.
Perhaps it’s this: the work version of me in conflict with the outside-of-work version of me.