I remember the first time I really knew that my parents trusted me. I was 17 years old, had just gotten my license and was a girl full of hormones and distraught about social life at school. I didn’t “fit in” anymore. It seemed that my group of friends had outgrown me (which I later learned meant that I had outgrown them). My anxiety began to express itself then. I remember I used to drive in to the school parking lot and circle before I had the confidence to park anywhere and get out. Sometimes I would be so fraught with anxiety I would burst into tears and have to turn around and drive back home again. And this is before the age of social media or even texting, we just gossiped in each other's ears or on paper. I can’t imagine how difficult it must be for teenagers now.
Strangely, I found myself in a déja vu: the same thing happened to me two months ago, (although this time I was the teacher not the teenager). I couldn’t even get out of the car in the morning without giving myself a pep talk, sometimes I could barely release the grip of my hands from the steering wheel and eventually one morning, I didn’t even get in the car at all. (Upon retrospect my dad did laugh when I told him I was going to Teacher's College, he said "but you hated school! Now you want to spend your life there?"....foreshadowing.....?)
One of those days at 17 I asked my parents if I could borrow their car and drive up to the cottage. I wanted to go and sit peacefully on the beach and wander by the water’s edge. I wanted to stare out into the horizon and allow the sense of peace and calm wash over me, that sense that you can’t ever really describe with words. It is a felt sense. Your heart feels it. My dad was reluctant, my mom somehow got it, and finally after pleading my case, they allowed it but I had to wake up early and be back at school the next morning. Thinking back I can’t believe they said yes to me. I was a new driver wanting to drive 2 hours north to the cottage in the middle of a school week to sleep over by myself. But they must have somehow trusted me. (I can be very convincing)
I drove up, listening to music and likely singing terribly loud and off key and definitely driving through every Tim Horton's I found. I stayed over and slept in my parent’s bed so that I could see the water upon waking and because it felt more grown up. The next morning at dawn I wandered down to the beach. It was misty and damp and the air was thick. I sat there on a large piece of driftwood on the beach, it was early May. I was feeling truly at home. Wasaga Beach has a "bad rap" as a town and for its demographics, but when I’m on that beach in the early morning or at sunset it is nothing short of Heaven on Earth. The waves were beginning to lap and the gulls were waking. It was time for me to get to school. And so, I got back in my car and drove back to hold up my end of the bargain. I realize now that that morning was the first time I ever truly meditated or sat still in the present moment.
Just yesterday I was at the cottage checking on things, making sure the water is still running and that the heat hadn’t turned off or frozen the pipes. I was rushing around and in a hurry, but I stopped for a moment from what I was doing and walked down to the frozen shoreline. It was there that I remembered that trip up to the cottage at 17.
The water is beginning to freeze up into still life images of waves crashing against each other, frozen in time. I could see the water every once and awhile smashing up against its newly frozen self. Powerful and silent. Good God I love that place. The kind of peace that comes over me there is breathtaking. I can’t help but smirk. Thinking of how it looks in mid-July, strewn about with oil soaked bodies and umbrellas and bustling activity.
And so, tomorrow I’ll be driving back into the school parking lot. I’m going to go early in case I end up having to circle or my hands become frozen and locked around the steering wheel. I’m going to picture the beach when I start to breathe fast and the heaviness comes. I’m going to try and have the courage that my parents did when they let their 17 year old get in the car and drive 2 hours north just to look at the water. They trusted me then; they saw something trustworthy inside of me. They knew I could handle it. Now I just have to learn how to trust my own self and remember that I know how to handle this.