I've been going through a lot of life changes in the last few months. Last few years, actually. And I really have that painful time to thank for the surge my writing enjoyed. Albeit, at the expense of my liver.
Though a lot of my personal life hasn't come out in this blog (for a look at all the nitty gritty that's worth posting online, feel free to indulge in Runner Confidential). In the last two years, my first marriage ended, really before it even got off the ground. Last year, I reconnected with an old high school acquaintance who was also going through divorce. Long story short, she and I started dating, are are about to be married.
Life is a heck of a lot better than it used to be.
While digging through a folder of writings on my laptop, I discovered this shorty. It was something I wrote a few months before my first wife moved out, in February of 2012. Our marriage was getting rocky, and, although we were going to counseling, I felt as though storm clouds were rolling in from every direction.
I give you: "Storm Clouds." (rated PG for mild language)
For the first time in my life, I am at a loss.
The two of us are sitting side-by-side in a two-person paddle boat. We’re in the middle of the lake, and a terrible storm is coming in. Yes, for a while, I didn’t paddle; and, stupid thing was, I didn’t even know I wasn’t paddling. But now that I’m paddling again, she’s decided to stop. She’s making the conscious effort not to paddle, and instead screaming and yelling and crying about how she can’t believe I ever conned her into getting into the boat in the first place. When we were on shore, she was just as excited to rent it as I was.
Turns out, she doesn’t even like paddle boats. They were just something she thought she could deal with, something she thought she could get over. But this one last time was the straw that broke the camel’s back. Now, here we are, in the middle of the lake, with a huge storm on the way. The only way we’re getting back to dry land is if we start paddling together, and she’s talking about jumping out of the boat and swimming for it, all by herself. But that plan won’t work; she’d never make it back to shore before the storm hits. And I’d certainly never make it back on my own if she decided to jump.
But as long as I’m paddling by myself, the boat is just going in a circle. I can work as hard as I can at the paddles, but I’m going to keep kicking up a circular wake and I’m never going to make it back to shore. And all the while the storm clouds are growing darker and darker and darker.
But, of course, since we got into the boat together, I am more than willing to accept my part of the blame for this (I won’t say ‘half’, because, though the boat is suppose to be an equal partnership, this ordeal is more than half my fault). Should I have seen this from the beginning? Of course I should have. But my stupid ass didn’t really know how to tell whether or not she liked paddleboats or lakes or whatever. Whenever she followed me, I took it as a sign that she was doing so willingly and happily. I didn’t bother to consider that the paddle boat excursion was really my adventure, not our adventure.
And I should have.
I also should have realized that, just because I paddled my ass off to get us to the middle of the lake, I wasn’t entitled to lay back and let her do all the paddling for a while. It was wrong of me to think like that, and I’m fairly certain it makes me a bad person to have thought like that.
And it should have taken less than the storm on the horizon for me to realize that I was wrong. I’ll always regret that it took the storm to get my stupid ass paddling again. Because as badly as I feel, trying to paddle hard enough to get us both back to shore, I know she felt the same way because she did all the paddling before the storm. Maybe she saw the storm coming and tried to paddle harder. Maybe she tried to tell me that the storm was coming, but I was too focused on the pretty sky and the sound of the wind and other arbitrary things to notice. For putting her through that, I know I don’t deserve to have her paddling next to me again.
She’s afraid. She’s afraid that, if she puts her feet back on the pedals, I’m simply going to lie back and make her to all the peddling again. I try to tell her that I don’t want that, that all I want is for us to get to shore before the storm hits. I tell her that if I wanted to stay in the middle of the lake, I wouldn’t be peddling as hard as I am. But she doesn’t believe me, and part of me doesn’t blame her. After all, look at how long she spent peddling alone, probably trying to get my attention about the storm on the horizon. What can I do to convince her that I am through with either of us peddling alone? What can I do to make her believe that, when her feet touch those pedals, mine aren’t going to leave?
And there is the question of future boat rides. She wants to know, if we made it through this and I somehow convinced her to get back on another paddleboat, would I forget about this storm? Would I forget about this terrifying ordeal, take a break, and force her to paddle alone again?
I try to tell her no. I try to convey to her that this storm is terrifying enough to keep my feet on the pedals forever, to never leave it up to her again. I don’t think she believes me, because she’s still not pedaling.
Every moment we spend arguing, the storm grows closer and closer, and even though we’re side-by-side, we’re both completely alone. All I can do is pray that storm approaches a little slower, at least until she decided to start pedaling again. I’m peddling as fast as I can, just in case she decided to join in. But the boat is still going in circles.
What do I say to get her to put her feet back on the pedals?