So, if I can learn from yesterday for once in my life, and learn from my desperate desire to just have organized my head two moments in advance for once, I will start writing a few words at work despite not having a moment of time to actually do that. Funny how it all rattles in my head. Knots, a sea of knots to navigate, marbles to jumble through, jungles of rain-soaked banana leaves gripping at the skin, trapping the heat beneath where they lay. A tropical fever of the mind. A calenture, funnily enough. I ought to begin right where I am. Drop the anchor right here, roll up the map, pull up the oars, lower the sails, and let the waves lap the sides of the boat. Give it a bit of a think before we start sailing off the edge.
The last of my old co-workers is gone, having resigned her post today. Whatever my life meant for eight years there, whatever I martyred myself to, is, essentially over. I don’t quite believe that, but now all the physical ties have been cut. When I return, even for a moment, people are sick and I see crow’s feet where I used to see smile lines. You got out at just the right time, you saw the writing on the wall, they say. That’s not true at all. God, I know in absolute terms that if the rope hadn’t have been flung my way, hadn’t clocked me in the head, I’d be circling the drain along with everyone else. I’d have the same future, uncertain in the usual way. I don’t know if I’d be making the strides I like to think I’m making. I know that the worry would be that comfortable oatmeal color and not this technicolor dreamcoat of anxiety I wear for a few hours and then fling aside.
Those friends, those hangers-on, the courtiers of old who have lingered to act out the last of their unspoken contracts: they cock their heads at me, note my new red hair, and endearingly sigh, they, too, are planning their way out. I nod, yes, do, go, leave. Leave the place where we laughed until I thought I’d be sick. Leave the streets that left me blistered as I marched up and down in ugly promotional t-shirts and hats, knowing that it didn’t matter if I was carrying thousands, I was invisible. I was in service. Leave the place where you got to touch him for joking’s sake and I got to hope for nothing that a tipping point was coming. Leave the dinners, the hugs, the gleam of good gossip. Leave it.
I thought all of that was forever and it wasn’t. So maybe this too is impermanent. Maybe this epoch is nearly over, and your arms are on the other side, outstretched. But this is not the lesson. The lesson is not to wait, Benjamin, on the shore, but to dare the boat, dare the waves, the calms, the starless skies, and sail on after you.