Tuesday, December 26, 2006

River Forest Marina, NC

0 nm
Wind: SW 20-25 knots, gusting to 30

It’s so windy today that we can’t leave the dock, so we’re stuck here for another day. Wireless access not withstanding, I’m miserable. One of our remaining, unstolen dock lines has chafed through, and the squeaking of our fenders is driving me crazy. It’s just one of those days I wonder why the hell I’m even out here.

Why am I depriving myself of the beauty of Bob Dylan’s radio show, in his waning years, that my sister blogged about today? I’m eleven days always from 29. Is this really what I want to do with my life? Not that Bob Dylan is a reason to make major life decisions—except, wait, yes he is. At least to me. But there’s other things, too. My subscriptions to the New Yorker and McSweeney’s Literary Quarterly. Having social interactions with anyone other than Karl. Having my family believe in me.

I don’t know why it is—maybe because prophets are doomed to be unbelieved in his or her own hometown—or maybe it’s just because that’s a parent’s job—but I just wish that they could allow for the possibility that I’m not completely wasting my life away. Perhaps Will Smith said it best: “parents just don’t understand.” Crazy Southerners, the Beanses, random Californians who happen to own the same boat that I do, random strangers—all these people believe in what we’re doing. They read what I write about it. It means something to them. They think that I’m doing what most people only dream about, the adventure of a lifetime, that I’m doing what I should be doing—sucking the very marrow out of life.

My parents, however, think I should be attending graduate school or feeding Indian babies or doing evangelistic work or at least getting married and having babies, because all of those things have meaning. Even being a waitress is better than being a bum and living on a boat. No matter that I paid my own way, that I bought and rebuilt this thing, this home, and that I’m living my dream. No matter that I wrote a freaking novel in the month of November, something I’ve wanted to do since I was three. None of that means anything.

I love them. Too much, sometimes, because it’s not that what they say doesn’t hurt, it’s that it makes me believe them. What if they’re right? What if I die alone and miserable? What if I destroy my life this way? What if I end up penniless and they have to fly me home? What if the boat and my body is crushed in an accident and I don’t have any insurance to pay my medical bills?

All those things could happen. They’re not even that unlikely. At least Karl’s family just worries about him dying, not whether or not his existence is being justified. But I’ve chosen to live a life not based on fear, not on what-ifs. Paul said, “the Spirit of the Lord has given you not a spirit of fear, but of love, and of power, and of a sound mind.” And one of His penitent sinners said to Jesus, “Lord, I believe. Help thou my unbelief.” That’s how I feel right now. Help thou my unbelief. It’s so lonely when I can’t believe in myself.

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