Saying 'no' is very easy for me. It comes automatically most of the times because I typically need time to absorb things and let a concept settle in a little before I can accept it. Unfortunately, this means I'm not the world's most spontaneous person. I also know I'm missing out on a lot of fun. So much fun passing me by as I contemplate the possibilities. However, every once in a while I surprise myself. Last summer, was one of those rare occasions--thank God.
Last summer, everything started changing at once. My (ex)husband and I separated, we filed for divorce and everything that I had worked on for the last eight years was suddenly over for good. Some time in early August, a friend asked if I would consider a roommate as he was thinking of moving to my city and resettling here. My immediate response, literally without thinking, was, "I'm sorry. I can't." I didn't even have a reason for it, I just said 'no'. Despite being the person who tells my friends, 'My home is your home. Always.'. Then, I started thinking about it and justifying why I said 'no': I was scared, too many things were changing, living with a friend would doom the friendship...and really many other perfectly logical reasons that I won't list here. It was the right decision. Except that it wasn't. I called him back the next day and apologized, told him he was welcome to move in after I returned from my trip that my home was his home for as long as he wanted it. And I meant every word I said, despite my fear. The day he showed up on my doorstep may have been one of the better days of my life, even though I didn't know it at the time. I felt like throwing up for the first week and wondered what the hell I was thinking.
I don't know how I appeared, but I slowly started to breathe a little more freely. I occasionally forgot the chaos around me and felt a sense of calm. I started leaving the house socially, with mixed results. I even started trusting again, just a little bit and that felt good. That trust is what had me driving around looking for a bunch of paddle boarders on a Saturday morning. One of his friends had recommended a paddle boarding demo on the Bay that we could try for free. It made sense for them, they were both surfers. I was a professional couch potato, who typical of my kind would sink to the bottom of large bodies of water. But there was that one time I said 'yes', and it had worked out okay and I had started trusting with no significant calamity, which was why I was driving around nervously looking for something I had never seen before. Eventually we found the paddle boarders. People took off and I was left on the shore watching them. I looked down at my feet and realized my toes were curled into the sand, hanging on for dear life. One of the owners noticed me and said, 'You're next.' I protested. I resisted. I eventually said 'yes'. Ten minutes later, I was on a board, paddling out and praying that I wouldn't fall into the bay and drown. Not only did I not drown, but I realized I was breathing again and standing up on a board paddling to the opposite shore with the most overwhelming feeling of joy I had ever felt. I felt radiant. I looked over my left shoulder and saw my friend on a board of his own, grinning at me. When we were on solid ground again, I asked him as casually as I could, 'What if I was this happy all the time? Wouldn't that be insane?!'
As hard as I tried, I couldn't remember the last time I was that happy.
Not long after that, my friend moved away. I continued going to the demos and found myself looking over my shoulder to tell someone who wasn't there how happy I felt. This Spring, I got Lasik, so I wouldn't have to worry about my contacts if I did fall into the Bay. I practiced swimming, just in case I did fall. Once I had the go ahead from my doctor, I bought my own paddle board and started going out on the weekends, enjoying the quiet that came with my new hobby. After a while I was comfortable with my outings and wanted a little more so I tried to take my board into the ocean. The ocean threw the board back at my head. Repeatedly. This inspired me to take surf lessons, which led to my hanging out with a bunch of surfers and going to surfing events, which got me out of the house on a regular basis and brought me joy. An insane amount of joy.
Almost exactly a year ago, I wouldn't have been able to imagine being here and feeling this. I wouldn't have known this feeling at all.
I do now, because of that one time when I said 'yes'.