“Thank you for your enthusiasm!”, they said in the follow-up email. I thought back on it, and yes, I had been very enthusiastic, maybe too much so. It was not an intentional behavior but rather, a reaction to the relief. The pressure valve had been released slightly and it was almost overwhelming. After being awarded a partial scholarship to attend a new fly-fishing school in Idaho for a week, I bought the plane ticket, packed my personal and borrowed gear and headed to Last Chance, ID. Of the other eleven students, most were men, but I was relieved to see three other women. One of whom was my roommate and savior,as it turns out, when I woke at 5 am with a kidney stone the first full day of class. There is nothing like a crisis to bond people, and Sandy and I started the week with a bang. Another fellow student, and my ride from Idaho Falls, picked me up at the hospital hours later, and risked life and limb getting me to the side of the road when nausea quickly set in. As I raised my (high as hell) head from expelling the water I had just gulped down and saw the Tetons in the distance I had to chuckle at the absurdity of it all. I said, mostly to myself, that at least now I could check another item off of the bucket list: puking within view of the most beautiful mountains I have ever seen! Probably not so sure what to make of me at that moment, John pulled back into traffic and returned us to the lodge in short order.
While the class was fantastic, with top-notch instructors, time fishing one of the most famous trout fisheries in the country, and a excellent companionship from the fellow students, there was so much more to it for me. While I travel for work periodically, and even have multiple days away here and there, this was different. I wasn’t teaching a class, surveying in unforgiving weather, attending meetings and in the end, rushing to get back home. This was for me.
Once upon a time this would not have been as impactful as it was now. I spend a great deal of time in my own head. I lurk in the sometimes dark, murky unknown and it is often not a pleasant experience. As much as I am told to do things “for myself” it is such an empty phrase and feels so forced and meaningless. Spending an hour at lunch with a friend is enjoyable, but it not what you need to drag yourself to the surface. The effort required to do that takes time and intention. It takes space and determination. Few people I know, can relate; and if they can, it is not something we speak of openly. Not wanting to chance it with this trip out west, I left a little earlier than required. I need an overnight on my own to acclimate. I walked for five miles around downtown Idaho Falls alone. I had a long overdue phone conversation with my best friend, and went to bed when I was tired. Trivial to most, all of this was required behavior to begin the rise.
Coming up for air for me means completely letting go of the burden of caring for my family, specifically my autistic daughter. While naming her formal diagnosis here may help some make note, that “oh, she has ‘extra’ stuff to deal with”. You could say that. Suffice it to say it is a lot of “extra” and damn if I don’t get completely burnt out. As in, I don’t want to talk to, be around, or deal with in any manner another human being. This is not a feeling I enjoy and one that I find myself being resentful for being made to feel. I remember a few years back one of my sisters saying “you used to be fun”. While the comment was not intended to be hurtful, it definitely struck a chord. She was right, I did. I was a lot of fun. That woman isn’t gone, she’s just floating in the deep most days. So here’s to looking forward to another chance to come on up, sometime soon I hope.