I drove to the beach, parked my Buick Le Sabre next to a Subaru and sat my butt down in the sand. Closing my eyes, I listened to the waves. It was calm. Clear. It took me a minute to relax entirely, but gradually I could feel my breathing pair up with the rhythm of the water. I pressed both hands to the center of my chest in search of a pulse and realized I didn’t have one. Kidding. I did have one, and it felt ok. Warm and consistent. I took a deep breath and felt my stomach turn and my throat lump and my eyes swell. I exhaled and tilted my face up toward the sun.
It feels very weird to finally do something you’ve been dreaming of since you were 13. It’s never really what you imagined it to be, but in some ways it’s better. In others, it’s worse. In general, it’s good. I grabbed an apple out of my grocery bag and took a bite out of it. My journal sat next to me in the sand, but I didn’t write in it—not when I should anyway—only when it was convenient, or when it made me seem insightful, or when it made me look smart. Most of what I did were for those reasons, I realized.
I sat there and fantasized about people reading my journal years after my death and saying, “Wow, she was brilliant.” Only, there was a problem with that because, so far, the only material I had was, “He doesn’t love me!” and, “Life is pain!” and, “Why aren’t I pretty?!” followed by scribbles and scribbles and blah blah blah and drawings and lots of “Fuck!”s. You know, just really deep, real shit. Although, I did say to myself, “I’m my own worst enemy,” once. That was pretty accurate. ‘Cause at 18, I really knew.
Sitting there, I tried to picture what I wanted for my life moving forward. You know, they say you’re supposed to envision it. You imagine it vividly and the more specific you are, the more likely it is that it’ll actually be. Only problem was, mine was incredibly vague, and I wasn’t even sure how to make it more specific. I wanted to be open to every possibility, but then how was I also supposed to know it so vividly that I could draw it? This is bullshit, I thought.
I wish I could relive the year I was 8 years old. I had a cool haircut and sweet “Fit ‘N Flare” jeans that were a little too short. There was a gap where my front right tooth was, and my new adult tooth was just barely showing up. I mean, I was killing. I played on a softball team that lost every single game, and then I quit. That was a good year. I made friends, had fun all the time, and found everything exciting. Everything. I knew who I was and what I liked, and I wasn’t afraid. Things were just what they were. There was no trying for anything other than that.
Since then, I’ve been constantly trying to figure out what things are to me. I’ve been in a constant state of practice, learning what is right for my life and what’s wrong and how to balance it equally. Which is good, I want to be. But it’s not easy. It’s kind of like fine tuning an instrument. I’m trying to get as close as possible to the most honest version of myself.
I took a bite out of a peanut butter sandwich and looked at the water. How can something be so flexible and have so much power? How is that even possible? It can drip through the cracks between your fingers, and it can hit you like a brick wall. And, like, we need it to live, but also it can kill us. Sorry, just not entirely sure how or why that’s just a normal thing, casually. Water is the shit but, like, scary as shit. Like, we don’t know what’s out there in the ocean. But it’s there regardless of whether we appreciate it or not. There’s no vanity or ego about it, it just is. It’s flexible and powerful. Calm and collected and consistent.
Maybe I need to be a little more like water.
Emily Dorsett is on instagram as @coolgirlemily.