I’ve heard of people who decide to start a blog and create a website in an afternoon, but I’m not such a person. I was inspired to start a blog 4 years ago, and then again 2 years ago and one year ago, and over and over I froze and felt lost again.
A year ago I fell into a terrible depression. I had a business trip to the Outer Banks of North Carolina, and the night before I left I hit the bottom of my emotional pit, hard. The kind where you snot on your sheets and gag from sobbing and wake up with a crying headache and want to stay in bed, or at least wear sunglasses on the airplane and not exist. I felt exhausted and strung out and confused, and that was before 4 days of nonstop work-socializing. The entire trip felt as if I was observing myself from afar.
At the end of the trip I found myself on Jeannette’s Pier. I was isolating, purposely walking away from my travel companions. Surfers in black neoprene became floating seals in the surf, lounging on boards more often than charging a wave. My stomach was raw from the previous night’s wine, soft-shelled crab, a lack of food that day, and a drive in the back of a van. The sound of the ocean made me cry. I wanted to fall into the deep and roll away.
Looking down, I spotted a rusty green tackle box at the foot of a seated man. I paused and clicked a picture with my phone, and the old man told me that I owed him $12 for the picture. His southern voice made it, “That’ll be twelve dolla.” I smiled and offered twelve cents.
Something made me sit beside the man and his wife, on a wooden bench facing southeast. They were celebrating their 59th anniversary with a family day at the pier. Their teenage grandson was fishing nearby. The man was a retired pastor, and he had an easy, quiet way about him. He wanted to know why in the world I wanted a picture of his beat up tackle box. Everything in me wondered why I wouldn’t want that picture.
He asked what I did for a living. I could tell him I’m a writer and he’d understand. I told him that I’m a blog editor, which didn’t resonate with either of us. What is that, and what does it mean. We talked about more than the weather and less than the heavy stuff. There was no hurry. I exhaled, then inhaled.
How is it possible to walk on a crowded pier and feel alone in the whole world, or to sit beside a stranger and strain not to rest your head on his shoulder.