being true without being heartbreaking

I can’t believe it, but somehow it’s late summer again, somehow the days are starting to get shorter, somehow the hills of California have turned golden, somehow the creeks are low and the trails are dusty.

Somehow, it’s August.

The older I get, the faster time seems to pass. When I was young, a year felt like an eternity, and now, it’s a measurement of time that feels pretty close to this moment. I think they call that Getting Older.

Exactly one year ago I was arriving home from a summer spent in the Sierras and Wyoming. I rode the train from Denver to Martinez, two days of nothing to do but write and read and reflect. It took every moment of that train ride to accept that the summer was over, no matter how tightly I grasped onto the citrusy beers, the 9pm sunsets, the memories. There was one thing I wanted to keep from the summer though–my glow. Whatever you think I mean by that is probably right. In the past, I’ve felt my glow start to dissolve as the leaves start to turn, and sometimes it’s completely drained by the time the new year rolls in. Last summer, I was determined to hold it close, the whole year through.

Then, I went out to dinner with a talented, handsome man named Ethan, and keeping my glow became a whole lot easier. In fact, I was glowing even brighter. The fall and winter were spent in Yosemite, Bishop, Joshua Tree, and the Bay Area. This morning I can recall moments from those cold, dark months with an ease that surprises me. They’re right in the very front of my mind, my friends and I scampering around the valley and the high deserts, little chalky bundles of corduroy pants and down jackets, I was happy. I think we all were.

The spring came, the rains came, we went to Bishop a few more times, Joshua Tree too, and Red Rocks. I quit one of my coaching jobs at the climbing gym. I taught less yoga. I got really poor.

I kept on babysitting and coaching young girls, two girls in particular, sisters, who are so cute it makes me mad.   The amount you can learn from people under the age of ten is infinite.

Georgie? she says, pulling on the loop on my harness.

I kneel down so I’m as tall as her. Yeah?

So, is this your job? Are you a babysitter? Or are you something else too? she asks, taking the charm on my necklace between her thumb and index finger, studying it.

Yeah sweetie, it’s my job. I also teach yoga and write a little bit. 

Wait, so when you’re 25 like you, you don’t have to be something like a teacher or a doctor? And you don’t have to be married?

I smile and try not to laugh at her questions because I still remember the feeling of having an adult laugh at a question of mine. Sometimes people don’t become a teacher or doctor until they’re much older. Sometimes they never become those things, some people have jobs like being a babysitter forever, because they like it so much and they’re good at it. And I don’t know if most 25 year olds are married, but I’m not. Do you know that some people never get married?

Her eyes widen. But how do you have babies if you aren’t married?! she asks, alarmed, hand on my knee, looking right into my eyes. I pride myself on always having an answer to their questions that is true without being heartbreaking, but this one…

The older one chimes in, saving me, she’s been braiding my hair. She doesn’t need babies, she has us!

Oh yeah! I forgot. She giggles and jumps up, like all of her questions were answered, she’s got it all figured out now. She runs towards a big blue mat, does a front flip, lands on her butt and laughs until her face turns bright red.

And how well I know that scene, how it goes, it’s like my conscience was being articulated through the mind of a six year old. So many years of asking myself that same question of are you a babysitter, are you a yoga teacher, are you a coach, or are you something else too? And feeling so much like I am something else too, but not really knowing what that something is. But then, I realize I don’t know how to answer that question in a way that is true without being heartbreaking, so I just keep climbing, I do a front flip and land on my ass, laugh until I turn red.

You should write, he tells me. I mean, really go for it.

I know he’s right. I know that a writer is what I am, what I always have been. It just makes me nervous. Sometimes this blog feels so silly, almost pretentious. I’m sure all writers and artists feel that way to some extent. And how do I write in a way that makes money, in a way that doesn’t feel like selling out, in a way that I don’t have to write these articles with titles like “Twenty ways to tell your boyfriend you love him, number seven will surprise you!”

Maybe it’s a matter of just going for it, seeing what happens.

The first morning I woke up in the Bay after getting home from British Columbia, I had emails asking if I’d like my old jobs back, an offer for the life I had before I left, in the spring.

I do miss that life in some ways, but it seems too easy. Those jobs don’t push me, it’s too comfortable. I’m not forced to write, to do what I know I should be doing.

So now, here I am, in the sunny Bay Area and jobless for the most part, frequenting cafes and drinking a lot of Americanos, writing little tid bits for this company and that blog, confused as ever but just going for it, lots of self-reflection and working on myself, heading to Tuolumne this afternoon and booking flights to Sardinia for October.

I’m not a teacher or a doctor, but I am something, and that something feels true, not heartbreaking in the slightest.