Break

I was diagnosed with manic depression at the age of fourteen
I said to my father, “I just want to throw myself off the roof.”
My father talked to me for a while and said, “Don’t throw yourself off the roof Bill. You’ll just break your back.”
I went surfing on the gulf that week on the spur of the moment, and was given a board far too large for me, and a line to connect the board to my ankle that did not fit.
My friend Donny dived into the water with his long sleek body and paddled like a set of windmills out into the ocean to catch his wave.
I followed suit, never having surfed before
It had been years since I had even been swimming
Boldly I paddled out slipping
Off one side of the board and then the other
And the waves that met me hundreds of yards off the shore
Hammered at me again and again
I bobbed in and out of the water and every time I surfaced I heard my friend howling with joy on the waves
And the board slipped from me time after time
And the cord slipped from my ankle again and again
I quickly realized that if I lost my grip on this cord
If I lost my tether to this surf board
I would surely drown
I pulled on the tether until the board popped out of the water near me again
I dragged my body out of the water onto it again
And paddled my way to shore
I was miles down the beach when I reached land
I threw up all salt water and lunch
And I walked up the beach to collapse at Donny’s truck
Donny surfed those waves for hours until he returned to the beach
And I thought about how hard I had just fought to
Keep my head above the waves
I thought of how hard I had fought to reach fourteen
I decided that it was possible that I was born to fight
While others slipped from the crest of one wave to another
Howling with laughter
As I struggled to keep my head above the water
I did not fight as hard as I had to reach shore just to die
And since I have been proud of every day I keep my head above the waves
I have gauged every suicidal thought as lacking in the weight to keep me from the surface
And I have never stopped fighting to reach shore

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One thought on “Break

  1. Love it, Bill. the last line is devasting. We need to get together sometime next week and practice performing (read each other’s new stuff), etc.

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