“Why live life from dream to dream…”
I have spoken to many people about life. Life, living, death; these are all topics that dominate my conversation with the worlds around me. I wish it was out of general curiosity, or some philosophical need to understand the meaning of both life and death, but that is not the truth, and if I have not learned anything in life by the time I stop living, it is that I have learned that we are entirely too afraid to be honest.
What is that fear? I do not understand it fully, because I cannot understand how we as a human race, have become what we have become. Divided amongst hatred, fear; allowing land and sea to define us into microcosms that disallow a larger picture of ourselves.
These issues, although consuming my mind at times to the point of pure disillusion, are not meant for today’s tale. Just an observation, an improbable explanation for what my life has been to this point, but nonetheless prevalent when the time comes for their stories to be told.
Today is about a moment. For when I spoke about honesty, I was speaking about my own fear.
There is not a day that goes by that I don’t think about death.
It isn’t an obsession, or some twisted fascination with darkness and its’ inhabitants. For the last 11 years, I have thought about death, and dying, almost every single day. I thought about my friends who have died and my family members. I have dreamt my own death.
To this date, I have attempted suicide 2 times. I have made so many plans that I don’t have to write them down anymore. I know every simple way that is possible to end my life. A knife, a razor, pills, alcohol, ropes, bridges, guns, traffic; these possibilities litter my dreams as much as the sun rises and sets in the sky.
But again, today’s story isn’t about this reality. Today’s story, is about a day, where laughter pushed back, for a brief moment, what has been my life.
This past July, I moved almost half-way across the country (moving west from the East Coast), for a job that I no longer have. Another story for another day. My 3rd weekend in my new home found me working at an Irish Festival in my new city. I was excited for the weekend, because if anyone knows me at all, they know how deep of a love I have for Ireland, and all things Irish. Feeling nostalgic for my time spent in Ireland, I spent the week preparing and saving for the festival. Upon the first day, I found myself wandering, during my breaks of course, around the festival; taking in familiar smells of food and alcohol as the guinness flowed freely. Upon my return to my post, a man (who resembles Santa so much that he was introduced to me as Santa) sauntered over to my booth, excited to have found us. As he was explaining his purpose in the Festival, I couldn’t resist the excitement. He was running the Highland Games.
(For those who don’t know what the Highland Games are, they are an old Scottish/Irish Games where competitors (warriors) throw heavy objects for distance and height. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Highland_games
this link will help if you want more information).
I was a division 1 Track and Field athlete in college, and my events were the throwing events. It was a passion that saved me many times, and also hurt me many times. A typical love/hate relationship. So much so that after I finished my 5 years of competition, I thought myself fully retired of the sport. Until “Santa” came along. It took one brief mention of my throwing history, and the next I knew, I was over in the throwers area, learning the ropes. The next day, after taking a year from any type of throwing, I was competing. (side note: A year before this I tore all the ligaments in my ankle, thus adding to my decision to never throw again. However, I followed my dr’s orders and never pushed, lifted, or carried anything that weighed over 50lbs).
I came in second overall at the games, and found myself hooked again into the world of heavy athletics. I even broke a state record, which shocked many of the other participants, including myself. But I was sucked in, and I couldn’t be more grateful.
The picture above, is the reason why I am writing today. This passed weekend, I participated in my 3rd Highland Event since moving to my new home. What made this weekend special, wasn’t the gold medal you see above, or its’ 6 brothers and sisters, or the trophy I won for winning every event; it was special because of the people I found myself surrounded by.
I dragged my roommate out of bed at 8am to drive an hour away for the event (with the promise of food and booze), and I managed to have another friend meet us there in the afternoon. After a long, and incredibly scenic, travel to the games, I greeted familiar faces as we plunged headfirst into the competitions. I had made friends with some of the people participating, and for the first time in a long time, I found myself competing not to win, but to have fun with these people. And for 7 hours, we hurled, slung, and fought every weight that was placed in our hands.
There is something therapeutic about pushing every muscle in your body to exhaustion. It’s a natural high, and it was something I desperately needed. The week before was my 24th birthday, and I spent it alone, almost 1200 miles from my loved ones. Then I found myself without a job, in a strange state, and with no direction. I was desperate to lose myself, and desperate not to hurt myself. With the competition, I found a way to soothe both demons.
After hanging out with the girls I competed against, as well as my friends who came to watch me compete, I headed out (with my friends in tow) to my other friend’s house for a much needed celebration/support party. We ate, we drank, and I found myself surrounded by genuine people who cared about the fact that I was with them. They wanted me there, and they loved me.
There is something powerful about that realization for a person who thinks of suicide daily. It isn’t a common epiphany, and it is a feeling that is so fleeting, that one must learn to enjoy its warmth before it dissipates back into oblivion.
We ended up bar hopping, before finding ourselves at a Drag Show at a local gay club. I was drunk, my friends were drunk, and it was the most fun I had had in a long time.
I guess it goes as common sense then, to say that I am indeed a lesbian. Or some variation of one. I find that you love who you love, it doesn’t matter the sex or the gender. But it isn’t an argument I am keen on indulging at this time. I guess I just mean to say that I feel quite at home amongst the rainbow.
I danced (as much as my ankle allows anyway), and for the first time in a long time, lost myself within the deep beats of the smokey, dark club.
These people I have found myself surrounded by, are like the ones I left behind. Good souls, failingly trusting, and beautiful; and as we laughed loudly and danced, I found myself refusing the pang of hurt to settle in my chest. I drank, and drank, trying to drown out the hurt and the voices of fear, and logic.
The pain in my body was the first reminder that that day was not a dream. The next were the somewhat smiling faces of my friends as we surfaced from whichever spot we had found to sleep. I had a day of laughter, and singing, and smiling faces. I had a day of made up words as our intellectual minds melded together in conversation, before laughing off about how we were allowed to make up words because we were awesome and cool.
As I think now, back to their smiling faces, as the memories slip into my stream like some far off dream that I was not allowed to have, I realize how much of my so-called strength is drawn upon these people. These heroes, who simple words have helped me fight off death when I could not do it on my own. Who looked me straight in the eye and said, that if I died, they would miss me. They are heroes.
I wish the epiphany would stay. I wish that the show would go on.
Sometimes, I realize this is what we are living for.