Published in the Santa Barbara Sentinel under the pen name Elizabeth Rose. Chris is known as “Jason” in the I Heart stories.
Countdown to a week before sailing to Mexico, that morning felt like side jabs from the universe. Little annoyances to provoke me, seeing how far I can be pushed before going ape on somebody.
With hands white-knuckled at 10 and 2, a dead stare on the road ahead is all I can muster to calm my nerves and decompress the aggravation in my soul.
And just when I thought I had reached the brink of chimpanzee, my lover, my sweetheart, my loving man chimes in with his best helpful tone.
“Babe, just a little driving suggestion for you…”
Holy shit. Is this really happening right now?
“When you turn left, you tend to swing out in the lane and it makes it hard for others to pass…”
“Uh huh,” I say.
My lungs fill with hot air and my throat starts to burn.
“It’s better to hug the center line so they can go around you. Just something to be aware of.”
I’m about to go gorilla.
Homie Don’t Play
I turn the car into the boat yard, park, and collapse my defeated limbs onto the seat.
“I need to be by myself for a little bit.”
“Ok… Is it because I said that thing about your driving?”
“No… well, maybe a little. This morning has been poking at my side like ‘Eehn! Eehn! Eehn, Eehn!…”
I use my right arm to simulate my best poking motion but end up looking like a bad re-enactment of a horror movie.
“I just need to re-center.”
He pauses for a second, then proceeds with caution.
“Do you think it’s also because we’re leaving on the boat in a few days?”
“Yeah, probably!” I say, my head nodding at the speed of bobble-head toy.
“Are you sure this is what you want? You sure sailing is what you want to do?”
“Yeah, I’m pretty sure… Ninety-eight percent of me is already in Mexico. The other two percent… we need to have a talk.”
He’s seen this reaction, my need for solitude, before.
“But it’s not you!” I jump to explain. “I just need some time to think about everything.”
The warmth of his hand on my arm comforts my goose-bumped skin.
“Okay. Do what you gotta do, babe. We have dinner at six, so be back by then.”
He gives my arm a squeeze as his hazel eyes twinkle smile back.
“I love you,” I say. “And thank you for understanding!”
“Of course, lover. See you soon!”
He hops out of the car and blows a kiss as the door shuts behind.
I Need My Space
I point the car south and let my intuition guide the way.
The city begins to fade into suburbia and soon, small farm towns shrink in the rearview mirror and the wilderness begins to take over.
My heart slows as I muster up the courage to have an honest conversation with myself.
“Alright, Elizabeth,” I say out loud in a serious, parental-like tone.
“Are you actually going to do this? Are you really traveling on a 34-foot sailboat to Mexico?”
The words ring in my head as I wind down roads in my blue Toyota Highlander, simultaneously realizing this may be one of the last times I drive a car for months.
Although the trees conceal the expansive water beyond, I can feel its presence.
The open ocean.
The frontier I would get to know in a deep, profound, and intimate way.
I drift into a lucid state and visualize myself at sea.
The thought of being in nature – the ocean, wind, and sky – grounds me in some way.
So the question makes a dramatic turn: How could I not go?
How could I pass up an opportunity to experience the world at this life-changing and possibly terrifying level?
A future of unknowns is what I long for.
Where change is the only constant, where time doesn’t exist, where life isn’t what you expect.
And you grow.
I turn the volume to deafening levels and let pent-up anxiety and fear erupt into a loud scream.
My heart races.
And I realize it’s time to go.