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September Surrender: Day Eleven

What I’m Letting Go

I’ve been using this vacation in the mountains to really reconnect with myself and what I’m about. I’ve pampered myself with a mani-pedi and a facial, along with bringing my laptop places and writing about what I see. I even brought it along on a kayaking trip so I could write in the middle of this placid, peaceful lake. But I’ve also been writing the story I plan to bring to life in November. I’ve been really concentrating on it this week, bordering on an obsession; making connections and plugging in pieces that I think would work to drive my plot along. The problem is I still have no narrative. I have no conflict. I have no ending. I have nothing but my thoughts and feelings and scenarios I wish would happen. And it seems to be all I’ve ever had when it comes to a particular story I’ve been writing for years.

I’ve always been better at dealing with the imaginary. When I’m communicating with someone right in front of me, I’m awkward and weird an never know what to say. I’d rather talk about what I plan to do rather than actually do it when presented with the opportunity. Saying this out loud feels weird considering I’ve never formally completed the story I’ve been speaking about all these years. But perhaps talking about it is what will bring it forth into the real world. I can stop beating myself up over what wasn’t done, and start the real work on what needs to be completed. There’s a new confidence in myself knowing that I can do this, and that I ultimately will. Letting go of the doubts will be what drives me forward, because I’m learning more and more there was never any reason to doubt to begin with.

What I’ve Discovered

I went to the same diner today that I did the first night I was here. “Welcome back,” the kind, tinselly-voiced hostess said, “You’ve got the same table as last time.” I smiled with a thank you and sat down, opening my laptop to begin another round of writing. I relished in the thought that I could be a ‘regular’ in a town like this, grabbing a coffee and a quick brunch at the local diner, all while putting the finishing touches on my latest manuscript. People who were also regulars would say hi to me, ask me where I was in the latest book, or tell me how excited they’d be for my next publication. It was a nice feeling.

But out of nowhere, overwhelming sadness. It’s as if a lump caught in my throat, and I was inconsolable.

Everywhere around me were older couples. I’m not sure the kind of clientele this town makes up, but it was middle-aged pairs who you can tell have met long ago and grew with one another. Something just hit me that this connection, the one that I wanted anyway, was certainly not present, and felt like it wouldn’t be for a long while. I ate my breakfast, a ‘last meal’ before I switch to all-meat, and went back to the cabin. That’s where I cried it out. Not for long, mind you, but it was the last thing I wanted to do while on vacation. It was just the unresolved sadness pushing its way out of my face.

I wanted to get back on the kayak but first did something I really suck at doing: checking email. I first replied to the car rental company asking me for feedback, which I was more than happy to comply with. Then I noticed a contact email on this blog. I rarely get comments here anymore, so it was a welcome sight. I opened it and skimmed, stopping when I came in contact with a dirty word I’m not repeating here. I rolled my eyes, thinking someone out there had the audacity to send me smut. But as I completed the first paragraph, I realized it was unmistakable who it was from. There were things in this sudden story that only two people on earth know about. At first I wasn’t sure what to do as I paced around the house. I wanted to read what else was written for me, but I couldn’t bring myself to do it. So I got back in the kayak with my laptop and reconnected with nature before reconnecting with the naughty.

I did eventually read this story, as it was set up as a ‘writing prompt’ for me; another challenge presented as I’m in the midst of several writing challenges for myself. I plan on acquiescing to the request, as it does intrigue me, but not right now. I realized today that all the endless thinking I do about this person isn’t coming with as much doubt as I’ve thought it did; That there’s a chance what I’ve been thinking about has been real this entire time. It’s just taken a lot longer to get here than I would have liked. That’s because I had a lot of work to do on myself first. I still do. I’m not camera-ready. I’m not ready to be all that I’m apparently needed to be at the moment. This isn’t a problem, either. It’s just that sometimes I suppose we need to disconnect with what’s not working in order to reconnect to what could absolutely be.

Doubting myself and what I wish for hasn’t worked out in the past. Maybe I can allow it to this time, if I keep myself grounded in reality.

What I Hope to Find

When I was younger, I had no idea how to get the boys to like me. I wanted them to, but all my efforts were in vain. So I eventually stopped trying. This was never clearer to me than the time I was in seventh grade and had been invited to my friend’s private school dance. She went to an all-girls school and boys from the very exclusive all-boys school were also in attendance. I spent a lot of time with her friends when we all went to field hockey camp that summer, so I knew a lot of the stories they told me about making out with boys and going to third base, etcetera etcetera. That was a foreign concept to me at the time, and they made fun of me for it. Still, I went to their dances, hoping that one of the boys maybe would eventually want to get to know me. That never happened.

This one dance was particularly bad for me. No one wanted to dance with me and I was just feeling sorry for myself. I was also watching some of the girls I had gone to camp with hanging out with boys. One girl who, God help me, I thought was entirely unattractive even had a boy around her. I remember watching him sit on the bleachers, legs open with her standing between them. He kept taking a finger and clawing at her tube top, flicking at it, wanting to yank it off. She at one point said loud enough for me to hear, “What are you doing? I don’t even have any tits!” to which she grabbed his hand and cupped it around a non-existent tit. It made me angry. No one had done that to me ever in my life, and this titless wonder was able to get the affection I so longed for. So I just sat there pitying myself, hoping that someone would care enough to come along and comfort me. And that’s how I thought a relationship would begin for me.

It seems so silly in retrospect, but I was twelve and grappling with a budding sexuality that also felt contradictory to my Catholic school education. So I sat and stewed and let that carry me all the way until high school where I actually got myself a boyfriend that didn’t have to feel sorry for me to like me. Still, that feeling of inadequacy was always there.

What I hope to find as I tell you this tale is a way out of this slog. There’s no reason for me to be jealous of what anyone else has, nor should I expect someone to feel so bad for me that I guilt them into any sort of relationship. Like I said yesterday, connecting on the negative doesn’t always feel ideal for me. I’m hoping, and I feel like this is true, that I’ve gained enough clarity while away from it all to really reconnect with me and what I’m about. I don’t need to keep sowing doubts about myself. I’m capable. I’m ready. I’m here. And if you’ll just give me a minute, I’ll be able to finish all sorts of stories. Who knows? We may get the chance to make them real one day ourselves.

Farewell, New Hampshire. Until next time.
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