Fall descends upon the Jersey shore. The tourists have scuttled back to their suburban box homes with their whining offspring in tow. Quiet stands a chance once again. And although this season ushers in some much needed peace, it also fills me with a sense of "Oh my god, how the fuck am I going to make it through another winter" syndrome.
And I've had to say goodbye to a few of my favorite people here the last few months:
Paulina is a friend success story. She is from Poland but grew up in Virginia. She is a geologist and one of the only female drillers from her area. Strong, sassy, kind-hearted, with the mouth of a sailor.
Well, she moved up here for some hot-headed dude six years ago, found herself a job and figured this would be her new home. Until the relationship started going south. Like hell south.
You know the deal: Determined to make a fatally flawed relationship work, you try and try while the "significant" other tries very little and calls it a lot. Constant bickering ensues. Self-esteem spirals. Years go by. Then you can't leave. Stuck in a relationship glue trap in New Jersey. Not a pretty picture.
With some coaxing and cojones, Paulina left for Florida several months ago, to break free, to start anew. She got a job on a boat because she didn't want to lock herself into another full-time job right away. She wanted a hands-on experiences. Well, she got it. And bit by bit, she got her self-esteem back.
She went back to Poland for a family wedding and met a man who doesn't make her feel like a piece of kurwa (Polish for shit, I think). She's looking for a job closer to him, happier and finally free of a repetitively sick relationship. So I'm happy/sad she's gone.
(Go, Paulina, go!)
What's there to say about Clint that I haven't written about many times? He's the oldest of the brothers who live up the street from me here. All vastly different from one another, they each serve as real brothers to me. (Apparently, brothers can be immensely annoying but difficult to live without.)
(The Brothers and I)
Clint is slow. Smart, but slow. If you ask him a simple question, he'll mull over it for a bit and then, like molasses, say, "No, I don't want any more coffee." The beat of a different drummer guy who doesn't feel "made for these times." He's very pretty, Kurt Cobain-style. This helps me not want to kill him so much when he says idiotic things.
Clint joined the effin' Navy! What? Nobody is sure what that's about. He's hardly the type to follow rules or, hell, simply respond when spoken to. But he was feeling stymied here. He worked for his family business for years and wanted to break free, learn, expand, travel.
The night before he left for boot camp, I made him a nice dinner. I started getting choked up a few times until he acted like a jerk, as he can so well. Then I hugged him and told him to get the hell out of my house. No tears spilled yet. But they'll come. Clint and I know each pretty damn well, that is for sure. Our last night together:
(Clint saying something sexist and ridiculous and justifying it.)
George is the grandfather of the brothers. At 80, he was doing fine: active, sharp and very fun. He taught me about gardening and the importance of drinking wine with fresh peaches, among a slew of other things.
Well, after a relatively minor medical procedure, he started showing signs of dementia. And it grew and grew and took him over so quickly, it was stunning. I'd leave his house shell-shocked, come home and curl into a fetal position. Very scary and sad to see someone you know so well not remember your name. (That's alright, George. Your smile said it all. I don't remember names either.)
Goodbyes. And they are goodbyes. Paulina had to go. So did Clint. George was too much of a fiery spirit to be held down by dementia. I ushered them along as best I could.
Yet I remain. My life is fueled by helping others on their paths, but I don't always know mine. My third year running my online business and I love it, but it just about pays the bills, nothing more.
And everyone seems to have their lives so settled: 2.5 kids, house, dog, cars, matching silverware. Its like there was a big game of Life Musical Chairs and no one informed me. Everyone grabbed their seats while I sat in the corner, listening to the music.
So here I am. Stuck in a cold, old house that my long-gone parents used to own. Trying to be grateful for what I have but quite aware something must shift. Three years have gone by on this island and I'm ready to move on.
Or am I? Apathy weighs you down and wearies your soul. Soon, you don't want to do anything. And that's potentially the scariest state of all. Like Dorothy, falling asleep in a field of poppies. Wake up, Dorothy! Wake up!
My brother is supposed to buy my portion of this house from me but the economy and familial lethargy have slowed down the process. There's no perfect plan in place after I leave anyway, so I don't push it along the way I probably should. A beautiful ocean graces my existence and blurs my ability to realize how horribly stagnant it can be here.
So hence my "Dust in the Wind" moment. It keeps playing in my head the colder it gets. I don't even like the stupid song, which makes matters worse.
I close my eyes
Only for a moment and the moment's gone
All my dreams
Pass before my eyes a curiosity
Dust in the wind
All they are is dust in the wind
Same old song
Just a drop of water in an endless sea
All we do...oh you get the drift.
I like this song about endings better.
Life is a series of hellos and goodbyes, I'm afraid, it's time for goodbye again.