jettison life

Dad and Karen are remodeling my room. It’s kind of sad to see it go, but… really! It’s had the same dancing pink ballerina teddy bear wallpaper since before I was born, and it’s long since been yellowing and peeling off the walls.

But man, I know ever single piece of history in that room. For instance  there’s this odd purple stain on the wall behind a tapestry I had painted for a Spanish 3 project in freshman year, and I remember it came from tiny Sean Oxford and I playing with grape flavored Bubble Tape that we stuck to the wall one day and peeled it off again when we were liiittttle little kids.

There are drawers upon drawers and random containers upon random containers of tiny scraps I have saved from things I thought might be meaningful someday. Though I may not have known exactly where they all were (because like a pirate I buried my secret treasures within my room), if ever I were to come upon them I would know exactly what they were and their significance.

Dad and Karen brought me boxes and told me to start packing up the things I wanted to keep, since they figured it was all junk to them except for maybe old toddler drawings and elementary school artwork. Usually I would be completely unenthused to undertake such a laborious task over my precious spring break, but I willingly hopped to–perhaps not so much because I wanted to make sure everything important was saved, but more so that the secrets and recorded thoughts of my past would never be discovered.

That’s a picture of some rediscovered 2nd grade secrets. I had completely forgotten that they were there until I pulled out a drawer to sift through it and clear it out.

Another drawer, THE junk drawer. This is where everything small and “special” used to go in elementary school, especially kindergarten-2nd grade:

One of the most surprisingly meaningful things was that little yellow “C” pouch you see at the bottom right ^ . I picked it up and it felt so light that I nearly immediately threw it in the trash… but, I thought to myself, well, you never know what I’ve hidden where… and opened it up for a quick peek.

It was so like my grandma to slip little things like this to me when I was little… she loved to secretly spoil me behind my mom’s back :) I left the dollar inside the pouch with the note, and boxed it up for saving. She was such a classy woman too. Really really beautiful (…and kept up with fashion, too!). I have a vague memory of my grandmother taking me to Moonlight beach when I was little, she would pitch camp under the one palm tree there with her transistor radio, oil herself up with tanning oil, and sit there for hoursss smoking a cigarette and tanning!

This is another piece from my grandma. There were TONS of these old plastic necklaces and junk jewelry that I had stockpiled. I know she didn’t give them to me either. I remember being very very small, and sneaking into her room when she wasn’t paying attention. I used to play with her necklaces (which to me were the most beautiful things in the world) and stick them, one by one, up my sleeves and smuggle them back to my dad’s house. This one in particular was my favorite. I used to hold it up to the sun streaming in through my window in the afternoons and make rainbows on the walls.

THIS is something I’m really glad I caught before my dad:

Honestly… I think at times I suffered really deep depression when I was a kid… or maybe just frustration and anger. I don’t know if it was just a phase that everyone somehow silently goes through at those ages but… really. The first things I actually took out of my room were my old diaries, dating back to nine years old. There are some extreme entries in there… anger, depression, self loathing… yeesh. A lot of it had to do with anger I had towards my dad back in the day. I feel so blessed that my dad and I have come so far in our relationship, but I definitely judged that these were not to be left AT ALL near anything my dad might happen to come across, so I didn’t even box them up–I brought them to a new secret spot at my mom’s house!

There were other things in the drawers, too, each with their own stories and sentimentalities. A kaleidoscope, Lion King trading cards, plastic jewelry toys… it was so fun to revisit. I found this disgusting piece of oily modeling clay, and as soon as I held it to my hands I remembered the slogan on the package that made buy it as a challenge: “Won’t dry out–EVER!” After all these years in that forsaken drawer… it passed the test!

Aside from walking down memory lane, it was also really good to be back in my home ocean, and to remember how good it feels to go swimming/surfing without feeling like I’m putting my life on the line (…or the dinnerplate of a great white…). I wouldn’t say the ocean felt warm by any means, but it definitely was SOOOO NICE! The first day back I went in just in skins… mmmmmmmm bodysurfing! mmmmm no wetsuit!

PROBABLY the cooolest thing though was to see my dear charming bamf BEESSSSS!!!

it was so nice to just suit up, crack open the hive, and just sit there and watch the insides. Made me feel so good.

And, a big thing that I feel like really helped me emotionally was going in for my lifeguarding recertifications. During our human anatomy intro to CPR our boss took a raised-hand survey about who’s ever done CPR on someone before. Out of the ~15 people there probably 6-8 raised their hands.

He first asked one of the oldest guards to share a story, which was about this one time he had been on a call about a surfer who  had been hit on the head by his board, knocked unconscious, submerged by wave, and then tangled underwater in a lobster trap for about 10 minutes. When they got his blue body on shore and began CPR, he recounted begin surprised at how much color his body regained when he began compressions (crazy, I know!). But, he had learned later that the man had been under for far too long, and it was no wonder that he was pronounced dead at the hospital.

Then my boss looked at me, and asked me to share my story– “If you want to, that is…” I was really nervous I was going to get really emotional and start crying or something, but it was interesting to just relay what happened in plain terms.

Last October I was driving back up to campus with my friends in Santa Cruz when I saw a 16 year old local kid get chased down by a gang and stabbed to death. I had my friends turn the car around because I didn’t think it was that bad and, y’know, “I’m a lifeguard I can help!” kinda thing. He had been stabbed sixteen times and there were organs out and he was barely breathing… and his eyes were open but I don’t really think he was conscious… well yeah he was definitely in shock soo… so yah I gave him rescue breaths, and then I felt his pulse stop… so I began CPR until the paramedics got there and immediately pronounced him dead right in front of me.

My perm gave me a little affirmation of my duty and I got a little clap and stuff… but what really felt good was to hear one of the guys in the back go “whoaa” to one of his friends. Not because it was self gratifying, but because I was with a group of people who not only share this sort of experience, but also see it as… and I feel like this is awkward wording but… they almost see it as like “cool” or something. Like, “whoa you got to use your skills!” and “Whoa that’s gnarly!”

I feel like that’s something I still crave. Just be in a group of people who have similar stories and share them! And what better people than lifeguards?! People like me who love the ocean, are adventurous, athletic… young, for the most part (or at least young at heart). Those two minutes I had in that room were some of the best therapy I’ve had this whole time.

We took a five minute break and this guy (whom we lovingly call Chunk–I forget his real name! AY!) came up to me and was like “WHoaaaa there gnarls McConnell! You are a fuckin’ badass! Fuckin’… I’m telling everyone: keeper of bees by day, lifesaver by night! Hahaha!” So good :) If you can’t laugh about something (while still maintaining respect, of course), you won’t get very far.

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