use her claws
I got into the truck with Gibson, made a K turn, and then started away and I could not stop crying. I wasn't sad, or scared, or happy. It was one of those cries when you're just using tears, gasps and sobs to expel excess energy you need out of your body as quickly as possible. As I left the office property, and heading onto the two-lane road I started to cry so hard I almost puled over and Gibson grew concerned. He stepped on my thighs and licked my face. I told him that'll do, and he was a sweet boy, and pulled myself together for the next 16 miles or so home to Cold Antler.
When I pulled into the farm's drive I was no longer in tears, but still humming with that confusing and excessive energy. Unsure of what to do next, I went for a three mile run. My thoughts were simple: release the tension. Go out and exhaust yourself so you can think, Jenna.
I did just that. By the time I made it a mile and a half away from the farm it started to rain. Not a hard or intimidating rain, a gentle one. Drops of water hit my forearms and scalp like rain does on hot cement that's been cooking too long. It felt good. It felt like small blessings of holy water. I wanted to be one of the dogs in Dave Egger's short story I cherished. I thought about how he wrote about their open hearts, their free bodies. How every pumping stride of their sprints their claws dug into the earth, were what made it turn. I wanted to feel like a Fast, Fast Dog. I ran until my heart pounded in my temples.
I tried to suss out what was going on with me. Why wasn't I tearing off at a laugh? Why wasn't I thrilled, free and released? I had just taken a step I have been egging myself on towards for nearly half a decade. I had worked three jobs, figured out a business, had a full dance card ahead of me of writing projects, workshops, speaking gigs and more... and yet.
And yet it was still too much in the actual execution. Too big a step for simple high fives and raised glasses. Maybe if I came home to someone else who could tell me, something like "Great News! Let's go celebrate" and could guide me through the motions of life change like a seeing eye dog, I'd be on better footing. But there wasn't any roommate with banners and streamers, no husband or boyfriend waiting. There were about 85 animals interested in dinner, water, and milking and a house desperately in need of some serious TLC. It wasn't "squaller" but it wasn't the clean I was comfortable in.
So I mopped the kitchen floor. That's what I did with my first night of Freedom. I mopped the floor, and then poured a cocktail of lemonade of Firefly (a sweet tea vodka) and went out into the new hammock chair I installed on the giant King Maple outside the farmhouse. I crawled into it and its soft ropes held me swaying over the ground, suspended and still haunted by that hollow feeling of change. My body was sore from the jog, and the housework, and the emotionalism of it all. So I just finally resigned myself into that hammock, and took a bitter sip of my sweet drink. It felt like a cradle from a lullaby, but with booze.
Everything is going to be okay. I know that. But big steps like this (for me anyway) are all long-time coming but short-term explosive. I knew this day was approaching, but I met it numb and shaky. It was too much to swallow in a gulp, no matter how long I was holding the glass at my lips. I wish I could tell you all that I left that office cheering and laughing, and came home to milk a goat singing and then went out for a round of drinks on the Cambridge Hotel. But none of that happened. It mostly involved a lot of heavy breathing, sweat, and swaying. And falling asleep at night was very hard to do.
But this morning, it is different. I woke up with my day's plans brimming over. There's a party to plan here tonight.: a potluck bonfire! It is that celebration with friends and coworkers I feel I need to support and guide my choice a little. I'm doing it right, too. I have 7 pounds of pork defrosting for the bbq and a few cases of beer ready for ice in galvanized tubs. Tonight as the fireflies come out for their big show we'll be around a campfire behind the barn in the forest, sipping cold drinks by torch light and talking about our summers ahead.
Everything is going to be okay. I know that. But I am a bit scared, and uncertain, and know Monday morning will be the real wake up call. My new schedule starts that day, with writing in the morning, meditation, chores, running and more writing before lunch. I am ready for it. I just wish my footing was more certain. I feel like a jungle cat trying to climb a tree in tennis shoes. Everyone told her they'd help with her traction, and all she wants to do is use her claws.
If this all sounds negative, that wasn't my intention. My intention was honesty. It wasn't all back slaps and bluster, like a Frat party graduation. But those kind of celebrations? That happy certainty? I know it is on the way. I just wanted to share what I actually felt, and what I actually did. And I hope you'll stay tuned for what's ahead.
I feel like this blog is just about to start.