Demons, Swings and Sunflowers (the sequel)

demons, swings and sunflowers - the sequel

Grown-ups never understand anything for themselves, and it is tiresome for children to be always and forever explaining things to them.

Antoine De Saint-Exupery, “Le Petit Prince”

 

I was welcomed home this evening with the gentle snap of my house key breaking off in my door. After some very public ranting followed by some very private swearing, I tapped into my hoodlum skills and ended up pouring myself through a window. The ideal capper to my current array of mental thrashings, it was obvious I needed to find a way to just … deal. Remembering the park a mere block’s walk away, I stepped out of my suburban cocoon and headed out to find myself a swing.

For those who missed the first installment in this series, I tend to do my best thinking on playground equipment. It’s been quite some time since I’ve taken a moment to sort some moments out, so tonight was swing time with my demons. They scurried out the door both behind and in front of me, shoving and pushing to see who could get to the park first. It never ceases to amaze me how excited they get at these playground outings, seeing as how the goal of these trips is always to bitch-slap them back into line. Whatever. Let the little fuckers run amok while they can, I thought.

This park had REAL swings – and here in retrospect I’m quite glad. Life as of late has been a whirlwind wrapped in a cluster fuck with a light sprinkling of paradox. And the cuteness of it all? It’s my own doing. A whole lotta working, a weeeee tad too much drinking, a lot more whining than I’d care to be the purveyor of and a shitload less patience than I typically sport. Definitely a situation pleading for some serious face-to-face time with my demons, as I always seem to think more clearly when I let ’em loose. It’s like shoveling everything out of your closet onto the living room floor just so you can find that stupid black tank top that’s eluding you. And thus it began, here in the midst of my 36th year: with my ass properly implanted on the swing-du-jour, I set my demons loose at the playground.

As they predictably ran off towards the slide (they like slides), I looked down on a glaring reminder of my weekend buffoonery: a brutally skinned left knee, obtained (and much-deservedly so) when some ne’er-do-well swiped my hat and I felt obligated to run after the offender. Or at least who I thought was the offender. Who fucking cares – I RAN. And you could have probably timed it with a 4-3-2-aaaaaaaaaaand cue wipe-out as I careened into the concrete knees first. So there I was, on a swing at 7pm in a park watching my proverbial demons fling wood chips down the slide, and I thought:

I should skin my knees more.

Granted, probably not under the influence of such copious amounts of beer, but I’ll defend my decision to engage in the “Cute Hat Rescue Mission – 2009” that left me planted firmly face-down on the sidewalk outside of Coors Field. Anywhoo – thought being that I simply can’t remember the last time I fell down and skinned my knee! Though the tight, stretching sensation I felt as I bent it in prep for each push I took to keep swinging was moderately uncomfortable, it’s a reminder of the days when I didn’t give a rat’s ass and took life on full-bore. I’ve been spending my days as of late working 70-hour weeks doing something I truly love with people I really admire, yet I sat there and looked at my skinned knee and…

laughed.

Yeah, I laughed. Laughed so goddamn hard I almost fell off the swing (confident that my demons would have enjoyed that thoroughly and probably found a way to TwitPic the photo). I’m fortunate that I get to laugh every day in the company of the people I work with, but yeah. I apparently needed to get a little schnockered and bust my ass to realize that I need more skinned knees in my life. There’s a strange comfort and complacency in melancholy and I realized this evening it’s a lazy “out” at best. Sitting there on my swing and witness to my ill-behaved demons (who were then on to playing with SuperSoakers – where the fuck did they get squirt guns?), my laughter had bubbled to my heart’s surface the source of my despair.

I’m melancholy. Funny – I’ve blogged about it before yet until I went and drank beer, busted-up my knee, broke my house key in the door and plopped my ass on a swing set … it never really made sense.

I’m six months old in Denver, having picked up my life in less than 30 days and leaving three and a half years of friendships and memories in my wake. Las Vegas – no love lost, but my friends…dear god, my friends. I had 1277.5 days of spontaneous sushi outings, jokes about Marshmallow Peeps, the bliss of cooking dinner for two or twenty, multiple emergency room trips, days on end in kayaks floating down the Colorado or basking in the glow of uncontrollable laughter at one climbing crag or another.

I missed them. I missed my friends.

It’s that freakish familiarity you find comforting when you all know everything about one another (even though you don’t) yet every time you’re together, you learn something new. Not unlike the inner giggle as you learn about a new lover, but sans the fumbling, hormonally-induced missteps, misspeaks and instead, laden with the “take me as I am” freedom that only a friendship can bring. It seems that I’ve been in a little bit of woe-is-fucking-me … and all I’ve really been doing is fucking myself. Working late, skipping invitations, dating with a rate of success that rivals only a certain former President’s mastery of the word “nuclear,” and honestly – not really doing a damned thing productive, inspirational or otherwise beyond the red sleeve of a Netflix movie.

It may seem pathetic to some of my readers – my recent behavior – but, shit. The excitement of beginning one of your life’s newest chapters in a new city with new people can be overwhelming when you forget that it took you 3.5 years to create this life you now miss. So what do we do when the going gets tough? It’s a chapter out of that Psych 101 textbook: we cope. As creatures, we opt for excess in that which doesn’t make us happy, averting the seemingly obvious and incubator-like comfort in those things that would actually…please us.  After millions of years, you’d think we’d get a bit brighter and hone our instincts a bit, yet Stupid is where we consistently turn when Sated perches in front of us with its smug yet less interesting song. With writing in my cache of “shit I do,” I have an extra coping mechanism. I can fictionalize (Throw Pillow) and sometimes not so much (Trespass), purge (The Hallway) and rant (I Left My Salvation in Little Johnny’s Pants). But have I been writing much? <insert obvious answer here> Stories are, for me, gems with more depth than any diamond. When did it become acceptable to shove coal up my ass and wait for the pressure process to spit-out something more palatable?

I’m really lucky to have found some incredible people since moving here – along with which comes the gift of being allowed to be a part of other people’s stories. As a writer, I try to remember that everyone I meet has a story and life’s a curious web created by delicate strands of outside influence – people, places, things and circumstance. Our daily lives weave in and out of everyone else’s and when you’re allowed to be a part of someone’s story – now that’s magic.

So with the realization I’ve not seen the forest for the trees – thanks to the New Suspects (as opposed to The Usual Ones) who got my ass out of the house this weekend and let me add something (inappropriate remarks, albeit) to your stories. Apparently, I needed that. I’ll be getting out more, moping less (hopefully falling on my ass a little less as well). The inappropriate remarks will continue.

And to my Usual Suspects who stop by on a regular basis to read my ramblings and stay in touch, thanks to you as well. We should climb – while eating marshmallow Peeps and riding inflatable animals in Xavier’s pool. And you know who you are – we are long overdue for some Blue Band.

It’s amazing, though – in 36 years, the best way I’ve found to discover what’s digging at my soul is to go back to being a kid for a little bit and … swing. It ain’t rocket science and it sure as hell isn’t intellectual or glamorous. But it works. Well, for me, at least, and tonight did nothing to prove my theory on therapy wrong. As I removed myself from the swing, I was surprised to find my demons sitting at a picnic table (and SuperSoakers nowhere in sight). They’re kinda cute, my demons – and not unlike my dogs when I take them to the dog park. They tear-ass around for awhile, letting me sit and observe with the quiet, yet highly observant detachment of a mother watching her children play. Far enough removed to find a moment to think, yet not so far away that I can’t spank the crap out of ’em if they start to set something on fire. Then we all go home and I get to watch them snore through an exhaustion-induced sleep on the couch, wondering how I ever got by before they came into my life.

On the walk back home (all three minutes of it), I had a brief pang of disdain as I realized: I was likely going to trash the entire blog I’d already written here in favor of what could only be installment two of the Demons, Swings and Sunflowers saga.

And I did. I killed my darling. It was easy as I walked to the back of the house where my vase of flowers sits – filled with sunflowers.

14 comments
Katie
Katie

hey, thanks. it's only 11:04 and I'm pretty sure reading this will be on the top ten highlights of the day. I like you and how you think! have a lovely weekend! -k

jim
jim

You should sing when you swing. At the top of your lungs. Drives the demons crazy.

Mike Roe
Mike Roe

Since 1987, I’ve pictured my demons as tiny versions of Gordon Gekko. There are seven (depending, of course, upon whether or not it’s bring your little demon to work in Mike’s brain day). Anyway, the bunch of them sit around a large boardroom table in the back of my mind, each barking orders at me through Gordon’s, now, ridiculously large cell phone. The connection sucks, but it's clear what they're saying: “A nap is for wimps! We make the rules, pal. Somebody wins, somebody loses. Guess who’s going to lose? Sheep get slaughtered. You’re a nobody. You could have been one of the great ones. You take it right in the ass you fucking scumbag cocksucker!” Well, like you, I find that doing those things that I enjoyed as a kid - walking along railroad tracks, riding a bike, smoking a cigarette in the bathroom - really do help. This was my favorite post of yours, Erika. Thanks for writing it.

Samantha Campos
Samantha Campos

Wow. A kindred spirit! Thank you so much for this blog. You majorly rawk, wherever you are...

Dawn Barnhart
Dawn Barnhart

I left Boston after 15 years to move here... I understand! I miss the people and I do miss the city, but this town has been good so far... less serious and definitely more playful. We all need "More Playful" these days. Hang in there!

Rick Ramos
Rick Ramos

This year has been a very unique one for many people. Myself, no exception. The new friends I have made through the past two seasons have added color and perspective to my life, even in the short time it has been since I began to be drawn in these new directions. You are truly one of those people, and I'm stoked that I have the opportunity to share frosty beers, smiles and high fives with my new red-headed homie. I love when people talk shit on social networking technology. They truly have no idea.

Sara
Sara

Aw, I like this one a lot, Redhead. Take care of you, and I agree... more play, more play, more play!

jodiontheweb
jodiontheweb

I miss you ridiculously. The only saving grace... I get to read your rants, blogs and tweets. So keep it up and I will pretend you are standing next to me on a trail talking about salsa, horseradish, hoopties and peeps.

Hirvimaki
Hirvimaki

Love it. It is, as always, brilliant. Thanks, Red.

Jenn Fields
Jenn Fields

So, we should climb. Again. Lots of times. Because we're still writing our stories in a new-ish place, too, and I like that my stories and your stories every so often get to tangle together into knots.

tali
tali

Such a good post. Human connections and simplicity do a lot to keep us going.

Snafu
Snafu

I miss you too. Snafu

The Redead
The Redead

"Now THAT'S hot!" - Miss you too, Jodi Badodi.

The Redhead
The Redhead

Thanks man. The emergency room isn't the same without ya ;-)

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