Occasionally the comedy that we call life can be an incredibly bizarre thing. Having gone to my first therapy appointment in years I found out some surprising things about myself. I won’t divulge them here, because I already know what was said and I’m the only one who reads this anyway, which I’m actually becoming fine with. It’s disappointing, to be sure, as the good Mr. Free and I have, at various times, attempted to get the word out about our little space here and endeavored to make it worthwhile to read. But the vagaries of fate have left us adrift in the ocean of binary randomness that is the Internet and I say “so be it.”
Upon leaving the previously mentioned appointment I decided to head out to Ocean Beach, a short bus ride down the street from the office I was in, to take in the remains of the dwindling sun. A fridged wind blew in off the coast causing my unjacketed frame to quickly rebel against me. My fingers locked up around my cigarette and my much abused legs became stiff and, mostly, unresponsive. But the discomfort was worth it for the amazing view, and the memories that location holds. As well as being the site of my recent forays back into running, and a really good conversation with Mr. Free where I cried like a tiny child, it is the site of one of my few lasting moments of pride. I saved someone’s life there once; many, many years ago (for that story look back to 2004 or 2005 sometime.)
I say lasting pride because nothing has taken away from that moment the way events have taken away from others. There are times, though admittedly very few, where I wonder about the state of that girl’s life. Has she lived a good, happy, life? Has she made the most of that chance she was given all those years ago? I certainly hope so. I almost died saving her and there are times where I haven’t been sure I’ve made the best of that same chance. Times where I’m not sure I made the most of it, where I feel like I cheated that 13 year old boy who came, sputtering and coughing out sea water, back up onto that beach. Like he deserved a hell of a lot better than the life I gave him. But it wasn’t me, wasn’t the person writing this, who gave him that life, he gave me this one. I’m not entirely sure how I feel about that but after some of the shit I’ve done since then, after some of the stuff that’s happened to me, I’m glad that he came back onto that beach to give me this life.
I’d sure as shit change a lot of things, and would certainly kick the shit out of that 13 year old bastard, but life is funny sometimes. Sometimes you get more of it than you think you will. Sometimes you get more out of it than you think you’re due, more than you ever had reason to suspect you would. Did that 13 year old boy know he would be back on that beach 17 years later, typing an email to his ex-fiancé on his phone, remembering having saved a life once, and contemplating years of happiness with said ex-fiancé? Not in a million years, and not only for the obvious reasons. He would be astonished by so many of the details of that moment where I stood on the sand while waves of every description, both literal and figurative, came crashing in. He would marvel at so much of it, at the sheer beauty and poignancy of it all. And for that, for knowing that that 13 year old boy had all that ahead of him, I am both envious and sad. He never knew what life had in store for him, never knew all the joy and pain still to come, he never knew all the adventures he would have. He was simply concerned with where his next laugh would come from and, sadly, where he would find his next drink (he was a messed up little prick.)
I’d trade places with him in an instant if I could (wouldn’t we all like another shot at living our lives differently?) but I can’t. I have to make the most of the chance he gave me even if he never did. Even if he fucked up a lot, if he let life take over and lead him instead of the other way around. I’m not quite sure how to do that just yet (hell, the life I wanted to live ended 45 days ago so it’s taking me some time to adjust to this new one) but I’ll figure it out a hell of a lot quicker than he would have.
After having hit the send button I sat down in the sand and thought about that boy, about all that he would do in his life, and laughed until I cried. I laughed like someone who has finally figured out some great mystery and feels stupid for not having seen how simple and obvious the answer has always been. I felt so many things in that moment: unbelievable sadness, utter stupidity, incredible joy and an unimaginable amount of love. As much as I would beat the shit out of that 13 year old boy if I could, as much as there are times where I have wished that he had never crawled his way back up onto that beach 17 years ago, I’m glad as hell that he did.
I stayed there on the beach well past when I should have gotten up and left. Sand covered my face where it stuck to my tears and the cold had just about frozen me to death but for that moment I was more alive than I’ve felt in a long time. I’m still sad; I’ve still lost something incredibly beautiful and special to me. I’d still do anything I could to change that but, like that 13 year old boy who crawled from the edge of oblivion to find another chance at life waiting for him; I’ve still got another chance. I’ve still got that and I’m going to find a way to make the most of it.
I walked off that beach feeling different. Not better, or more at peace with my situation (that will, in all honesty, take quite some time,) just different somehow. I’m still not sure of quite a lot. I’m not sure how I feel about a lot of things but I know something now that I didn’t back then. And that is an amazing thing. It’s going to have to stay my secret though. Even from this abandoned space where I often lay my soul bare for all to see.
With a hearty fuck you, good luck, and his eternal gratitude to that 13 year old boy standing on that beach somewhere in the past,