Admin note: this post was initially published as a comment at The Confessional.
Hey there, UpperLeftEdge people,
I was in bed last night, reading a book I bought from this teeny little bookstore I couldn’t remember the name of, despite having just been there hours before. As I was doing this, a little card fell out. Jupiter’s Rare & Used Books, right! That place. And I was thinking how badly I would rather be there than here (Vancouver, WA) at the moment. And on the back of this little card was a website, so… I’m here now!
I’m not exactly sure what I’m doing, but…This is a confessional, yes? So I’m supposed to confess! Well, here goes:
I come to Cannon Beach nearly every year. I come with my mother and sometimes a friend of mine tags along. My mom likes to stay in the nicer hotels, where, ‘ocean view’ doesn’t mean, ‘mostly parking lot and a little window of sea in the background,’. She likes to sit on the balcony, drink some red wine and think. I personally don’t care where I stay, and balconies are swell and all, but the actual experience of head-to-toe sandiness is better.
The trip goes like this: Come to the beach, go to the hotel and drop off all the stuff we have, drive into town, Mom goes to eat and drink somewhere, and my friend and I walk around and either buy stuff or immediately go play in the sand or water. Get first to second stage hypothermia from swimming in a freezing ocean for x amount of hours, walk back to Bill’s Tavern where my mom thinks we are weird and, ‘too funny’, head back to the hotel in misery, go BACK into town and eat dinner, maybe have a fire on the beach with s’mores and all that, rinse and repeat for a whole weekend.
This trip was different. It was the first time I’d not only driven to but stayed in Cannon Beach by myself. I had made the decision that morning (I am quite impulsive), and somehow was staying at the Wayside Inn for two nights, thanks to the financial assistance of my mother and grandmother. If it were any other reason than the one I have, this trip wouldn’t have happened. This was a pity trip.
My good friend Aaron killed himself in October. He jumped from the 205 bridge to his watery death and on New Year’s my friend Jennifer did the same. Personally, I, despite me HATING the phrase, have suffered from moderate to severe depression since I was around twelve years old. I was doing okay, and suddenly it seemed like all my friends were dying and my life was going down the pooper real fast. I’ve also been suicidal since I was fifteen. Everyone thought this was some sort of time-to-die trip. So of course, I received calls and texts aplenty, usually reading, ‘you okay?’ or, ‘don’t do anything rash’ from people who assume they actually knew me. My mother insisted that I call her every once and a while to tell her what I’d done so far. By this she meant, ‘I need to know you aren’t dead’. Understandable. I spent each night taking my anti-anxiety pills and crying into my pillow, hoping the family with kids upstairs can’t hear me.
This trip was also different because I didn’t spend my time making terrible sand castles with a Spongebob bucket I found, pretend to be a pirate, even at 18, or talk about how totally convinced I am that mermaids exist, because, ‘look how big it is! I bet Ariel is totally watching us right now, up here where we walk and run and stay in the sun’. I walked on the beach alone, cold, end of February, the thoughts of pirates still on the back of my mind, but mostly thinking about death. My death, my friends death, the death of those three seagulls I saw or how that one seagull was totally being a cannibal. I also thought about how the sea foam is completely different in the summer… It actually looks GREENly gross, and it isn’t white or fluffy like the sea foam now.
I also thought about how absolutely ridiculous this all was. How every time I’m home, I’m surrounded by people who are convinced that money and things and just SHIT (sorry about the language…) is important. How somehow getting a job that pays well and going to school to earn a fancy degree all means happiness and success. I thought about how I think the same thing when I’m there.
And I was standing, and my shoes are wet, and the tide was REALLY close, and everyone’s left the beach but I’m still here, my pockets are full of broken shells, and my skin is cold and my heart feels heavy and sick, and God doesn’t exist but man does, and my friends are dead, and I’m crying and it’s dead quiet because the tide is pulling back because a big wave is readying itself, there’s rain, and I wonder if the wave will be big enough to take me away, and I think, ‘I’m alive.’ I’m alive and this is what’s important. This being… Everything and nothing at all. Everything is the world and nothing at all is this moment. This moment is nothing at all except a moment where the tide is pulling back only to push itself closer to the rocks that are the seawall. And the wave is big, but it doesn’t touch me. The water doesn’t touch me. Not yet.
And I walk and walk until the seawall and the tide are too close for comfort. And I’ve never walked this far on the beach before. It’s prettier away from the hotels, away from the people and the degrees and the jobs. And I think I could just live like this forever. I could write a book that will sit on the bottom of a shelf and get dusty and make people sneeze, but never look down. And I can buy food from the store here, and I can get a job and just stay and tell no one where I’ve gone. Like a secret. Because my friends are dead and I want to be dead and I hate seeing that thing in peoples eyes when they look at me and feel bad for me, and ask if I’m okay, as if I am going to smile and say yes. And I always do. I like being a little bit of nothing on the beach, like the jagged things in my pockets. I like being a nothing, I like being a moment.
And I walk back. And the tide decided to leave me be for a while and I call my friend to tell her how much fun I’m having and I lie and say how I wish she were here with me. And I think to myself how this feeling won’t last. And how am I supposed to just leave today and go back to more sadness and degrees and jobs and why can’t I just be here forever? Why can’t a moment of nothingness last forever? But I get in my car and I drive to that bookstore, and I buy a book because a boy I like likes it. The owner is calling people to invite them to come over on Sunday, for dinner or something, and I laugh a little. And I try to look like I’m actually searching for something, but I’m really just standing, breathing. I’m breathing deeply, because the smell of old books is like heaven to me, and I keep sneezing, but I don’t care. And I breathe some more and think, I like this nothing, I like this moment, here, in this corner of a bookstore with this chair that says, Time Out, a creepy little teddy bear and the owner whose gone to get some warm water or something.
And I grab the book and stand at the counter, and there’s something wrong with the register, and I’m smiling because I can stay in the moment a little bit longer. And the tide is far away now. And I almost ask, ‘what made you want to be here forever?’ but it comes out, ‘how long have you lived here?’ Because the owner is from the south. And we talk a bit, but it’s time for me to go, and the second I walk out the door, the moment has faded. And I cross the street, get in my car and drive home, where the tide is even farther away and nothingness moments are far more seldom. But I’m still alive.