Do you have a special place? A place in your memory to where you can escape - if only for a moment?
I remember a high school health class in which our teacher led us on a relaxation adventure.
Seated in our classroom, he asked us to imagine a relaxing place - real or made up. Where are you? How does it smell? How do you feel? Warm? Cold? Wet? Breathe. Relax your eyes. What do you see? Imagine taking off your shoes and socks. Are you connected with the Earth? Do you feel the Earth's pull? Who is with you? Are you alone? How does that make you feel? Breathe.
Fairly progressive for a late 1980's teacher in Puyallup, Washington. And I am so grateful for that lesson.
At 15 years old, I think my Place was a beach. The ocean. Hawaii, maybe. Palm trees. Blue water. Warm sand. Consistent and rhythmical waves crashing to the shore. Then receding.
Fast forward 10 years.
The 25th year of my life was pivotal. A series of unrelated events compounded to create a feeling of unrest. What am I doing? Where am I going? What am I supposed to be doing? I was in a relationship that was, in retrospect, well-timed and key to who I am today - but wasn't an exact fit. My shoulder was so sore from hours of playing volleyball that I needed to down 600mg of Ibuprofen 20 minutes before a match so that I could swing hard and play through the pain. I was working a corporate job for a quintessential Corporate-America company. Rapidly advancing. Recruiters calling. Company car. A mortgage. The works.
Something was off...yet I kept trudging along.
Since I wasn't listening to myself or taking care of myself - my body took care of me.
That Spring, I ruptured my Achilles' Tendon at a National Sales Meeting in Princeton, NJ.
This story is a blog entry unto itself and the only thing that I will say is, "Heed your mother's advice and wear CLEAN, DECENT underwear. Always." You just might find yourself in New Jersey lying face down on an Emergency Room exam table faced with a dilemma: do I let them cut my favorite black velour pants for access to my achilles' tendon OR do I save the pants and expose my g-stringed fanny to a room full of doctors and nurses?
I digress. In retrospect, snapping my Achilles' tendon in half was a good thing. It sat me down. Literally. It forced me to take a hard look at my life. And I made some changes.
I broke up with my boyfriend, quit my job and enrolled in SCUBA classes to prepare to go on a one week sailing cruise - ALONE - in the Caribbean.
I had such an amazing time that first week in the French West Indies, that I decided to extend my vacation. Another week. Another sail boat. This time in the Grenadines and Venezuelan Islands.
I had such an amazing time the second week, that I applied for a job as a Cruise Director.
It was during that Summer as I conjured up Julie McCoy from the Love Boat that my Place was discovered. Actually, I have two memories that serve as my Place(s): one from the beginning of the Summer, and one at the finale of my Caribbean journey at the end of the Summer. Coincidentally, they both happened while sailing back to the port of St Georges Harbor in Grenada.
I refer to my adventure as My Summer of Self-Discovery.
Place #1) Sitting at the bow. Alone. Icing my throbbing Achilles' tendon while gawking at the Millions of Stars. The Milky Way. The sound of the massive hull slicing through the black water. The gentle rolling of the boat. Humid, silky, salty air. Endless sky. Endless opportunity. Endless, unfamiliar LIFE just beneath the water's surface.
Place #2) Lying face down on the Widow's Net beyond the bow tip. My face perfectly positioned between the hexagonal-shaped ropes. Dusk. Flying over the water. Then, from afar, Dolphins. They came to greet our boat. Full of curiosity and playfulness, they surfed at our bow. They darted beneath me. Their long noses gave the impression that they were smiling. I couldn't help but smile. I was flying with them. Optimistic. Light. Hopeful.
I go back often to these Places. I dream about them. They flash in front of my eyes when I feel like I cannot take another minute of the Snarky-ness, the Teasing, the Whining. The Whirling Dervish looks-like-a-Tornado hit our house crazy-ness.
Each day comes to a close. The boys are fed, bathed, tooth-brushed, PJ'd and cuddled to sleep.
I pour a glass of wine and nod to my husband. He nods back. No words are necessary.
We are exhausted. We are sated. We are optimistic.
We have our special Place right here.