You Yell In Your Head A Lot

That day at work, the one that is so mind numbingly boring where you can’t even remember what you talk about. You sit and stare, you cross and un-cross your legs to keep your ankles from going numb. That day where you know you’re not going to want to go home right away so you make plans with an old friend, you find a new bar and you plant your ass on a stool for a few beers and talk.

You talk and the shit that comes out of your mouth sometimes makes you realize that, in this moment, your voice is unrecognizable. You’re half way through your first 8% beer and you realize the bar now looks blurry, only because you’re looking through saltwater and your friend pats your right shoulder.

Looking down, your left knee is supported by the bar while your right ankle crosses over it, you look over and your bearded friend, a friend from years ago, that is only ten years younger that your father, and his legs are crossed the same way.

For as long as I’ve known you, you’ve been like a strong, proud, black woman. He says, lifting his hand off your shoulder, complimenting you. He begins to share his stories about his relationship, because you decide to get another beer and change the subject to him. You want to stop looking through saltwater and getting the focus off you will help that.

The bar fills up as you realize the coffee stout you ordered is actually good. After years of loving coffee and loving beer and hating the two combined, this brewery does it–it goes down easy, lights you up with a buzz and mellows you out with a different buzz. The conversation continues onto beers, breweries, brewers and bars.

He compartmentalizes your life by drawing circles and squares on the bar top with his fingers, connecting them with imaginary lines and arrows, showing how they all really are connected–see, if things are good here, they have the potential to be better HERE, he taps hard on the upper right circle,

Meanwhile, you use your thumbnail to pick the coaster and to avoid eye contact, you’ve been refused coaster use in bars you regulared at in the past but the tender doesn’t notice you tonight. You blink back, close your eyes a moment and return to making scraps that he’ll later have to clean up and throw away–you’ve worked at bars and know how annoying it is to clean up other peoples messes.

The four compartments are all different, yet work together, if you create balance, you equal a happy, healthy life. Who can juggle balance? Where does this come from? WHERE, HOW?! You yell in your head, you yell in your head a lot.

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Water Sounds the Same Everywhere

Dad and I wake before school and notice the sun cresting over the horizon. Melting backwards above the water line, shining pink, purple and peaches over the water. Early mornings call for low voices, as if we talked any louder it would disturb the peace, so we whisper. The lake laps the sand, kissing it good morning.

Sitting on the beach on the edge of Lake Huron at 2 in the morning we listen to the fresh water lap on shore, the blanket under us and the moon bright above out heads, just our voices and the water. 17 years old, I felt rebellious being outside with a guy, my dad asleep at the house and the lake as beautiful as can be.

That same beach three years earlier, a small fire and remnants of marshmallows and Hershey wrappers, giggling girls worrying about soccer games, boys and finals week. We were a club that didn’t do anything special. We were watching the crescent moon rise, the stars fall and at 3am the Northern Lights peak above the horizon in an eerie glow that danced to the rhythm of the waves.

Lake Michigan: the other side of the state and bit further south. Eating ice cream with a man I’d later call my boyfriend—the conversation ranging from our pasts, to the confusion of the future. The lake laps laps laps and talks back to us. Months later we call it quits near that same beach. The water listens and doesn’t take sides.

The ocean. I live in the Mid Atlantic now and recently found myself on the beach at 1:30am wrapped in a Mexican blanket having one of those conversations; we talk about the greatness of having paddle boarded this morning, the uncertainties of jobs, relationships, life and decisions that need to be made sooner rather than later. The ocean laps too, the moon shines bright over head and the stars fall just the same as they do over the Great Lakes.

We whisper while putting the kayaks in the salty water, afraid to wake neighbors or disturb the osprey’s nest that is being built not far off shore. Hot coffee (with a nip of Kaluha) is bungeed in front of each of us, PB and Jelly sandwiches in a dry sack for later—we watch the sun rise over the Atlantic, we listen to the lapping of the waves and I notice as drops of water drip off my paddle. I propel myself through the oily water in a smooth cadence. Perfection in a silent sunrise. I’ve  learned that water sounds the same everywhere. Water and water people come together and create something great.