I could probably use some flowery writing skills – expensive college-educated skills - to more beautifully re-word the following, but there really is no better way to say it.
Everything actually sucked harder a week ago than it sucks right now – but it sucked so hard then that I was incapable of articulating it at all. Even those previous four little powerful words evaded me.
Like when television crews talk to parents of slaughtered children right after they've heard the news; or at the scene of an airplane crash when they ask ambulance workers what's going on. No words.
Every morning when the temperature was -8, or -26, or merely 0 with a -18 wind-chill, a small part of me died. Every struggling turn-over of the engine. Every patch of black ice, every frozen eyelid, every ugly stain from a salty car door, every lift-paw-sad-eyes from the dog, every slip-near-fall on the sidewalk, every actual fall on the sidewalk...
But before you lubbers get too enthusiastic with your empathy:
Every empty water tank, every bang of the ice against the hull, every frozen toilet, every malfunctioning furnace, every otter infestation... Every bag of groceries down the snow-covered, wooden dock.
Every single one enough to make you want to give up. Go home. Maybe just for the day to warm up and re-charge. Maybe for the week to re-focus and start over. Maybe forever, to pack up and relocate to anywhere else.
Oh say... Los Angeles, where Melby has been living for the past month.
On January 10th, Melby moved to Hollywood to begin a job shooting for the television show 'I Hate My Yard.' It is a HGTV show about people who... hate their yards and have them renovated. It's a terrific job with a terrific company that is paying a terrific salary to live in a terrific city – and the timing, of course, was terrific. For him.
I even got a small respite from this brutal winter to join him briefly. After a couple of weeks working there, he flew home and together we drove his car to California. It was a fantastic road trip that included stops to see friends in Omaha, a great night in Denver – the majestic view of the canyon-lands; and even a rousing night in Las Vegas. Then, we had three fun-filled days in Los Angeles during which Melby showed me an exciting cross-section of what the place has to offer. From Venice Beach to Topenga Canyon, to the walk of fame – we covered a lot of palm-tree-covered land.
But then, of course, I had to come home. Alone.
We, as a unit, are steady. The long-term plan for us is indeed an 'us'. Will I ultimately go there to join him? Will he come home? Will one or both of us eek out a here-and-there balance? What will happen with the boat? Our jobs? These questions are the lingering ones that will, undoubtedly, reveal their own answers in time. However, in the short-term – for the next several weeks, at least – I'm alone in suck-town while he's in paradise.
There are a handful of things that bring something like comfort.
3. Cuddling dogs and cats.
7. The YWCA.
The yin, so far, has yanged and helped me to maintained some balance. In fact, it would be dishonest not to admit that as an artist, this kind of agony is marvelous in a way. The promise of a beam of rare sunlight through the curtain in the morning, for example; followed by the plunging realization that it is still 20 below zero.
The delight of seeing the water truck descend the ramp to fill our thirsty tanks, followed by the news that the line has frozen before they could reach mine.
Such extreme swings are – among other things – exhilarating.
And it the midst of these cold, dark hours alone, I find I am faced with some of the biggest and trickiest of questions: is my time living full-time on a boat drawing to a close? How do I reshape and pursue my career differently than I have – as a new demographic, in a new market? Is it too late to be an olympic figure skater? You know – the biggees.
In the meantime, the temperatures this week are crawling slowly above zero; and I'm beginning to look at the snow-cover through the lens of future nostalgia. And it's beautiful.
And it's beautiful.
Ain't it all.
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