jumping off cliffs

Originally uploaded by Liz Henry.

I can’t really express how sad it made me to see Jo in the hospital again. She’s okay and everything. I was just super upset. I brought her lunch from Sancho’s.

We talked about the food, the bad quality of the books in there, and got a little bit into It All. She is “in a 2-week hole” now, meaning you are legally committed for a longer stay, which I gathered from this really nice and friendly guy Craig, who ate the extra fish taco and who is in for his 2nd 2-week hole. You see I am learning the routine and the terminology, by proxy. They can let you out earlier.

I did something I didn’t think I would do, and spoke out to say, maybe you need to move on. And not wait for other people to make decisions for you. You don’t have to do that forever or permanent, just make some space, separate, and see how it goes. I was like, “take this totally with a grain of salt… just my opinion… a flawed one…” And I realize my opinion is shaped by my own life and choices. I have ended many relationships. Let’s say I have a lot of practice at it. And I know how it goes, and feels, and how you come out of it. She has never ended a relationship and can’t see out of where she is now. Maybe it was too harsh and meddling of a thing to say, but I could not help saying it. She kind of pulled herself together and said “We’ll decide. We’ll talk about it.” That seemed like a good response to me. Also, she said she would try to call her mom though it is hard to get the staff to do a long distance call for you.

Her expressions of being suicidal, her breakdown and hospitalizations have affected everyone… I did not cry in front of her. (With superhuman effort.) I drove off crying though. Went to school, turned in my work from this morning (I missed Bad Moms’ Coffee). Burst into tears again on the elevator. Worried about my thesis. Worried about Jo. Wondered what I would do if Rook left me, or died in a car crash with Moomin while I am away from them. Realized I just got my period. Then thought, “Hey. I’m right near the beach. I love the beach.”

So, I stared at the waves for a while. I saw some brown pelicans flying in a V. And seals sticking their heads up out of the crashing surf. Other lone people got out of cars and stood gazing out to sea, hands in pockets, squinting, and I imagined what they were looking for and why. Probably about the same thing as I was.

Then I drove further down the coast a mile or two, to the hanggliding cliffs. It is the domain of grizzled old geezers, a mixture of aerospace engineer types and working class airplane-lovers who have subscribed to Popular Mechanics since 1942. They check their hanggliders meticulously, suit up, then their buddies hold the wings while they zip and buckle themselves into a sort of high-tech body bag (convenient if you crash, they don’t have to un-splat you and shovel you with a spatuala into your coffin. You are pre-bagged.)

I talked to a guy who showed me around and took me to the edge of the cliff. “Watch out for that guy, he’s crazy” said the other airplane model-flying geezers and gliding nuts. They did not know how unfunny they were to me, the crazy jokes… “We can give you the number of his psychiatrist. Don’t go to the edge of a cliff with HIM” they said in the particular way that jocular old men who have once been in the military like to tease purple-haired women who look too young. I went to the edge of the cliff. thinking, kind of.. and this is cheesy but I thought, “I’m going to look over the edge of the cliff for Jo, who would be afraid to look.” It was very beautiful. Then I had some fairly trite thoughts about the beauties of human endeavor, the history of flight, culture, civilization, leisure, and horrible hanggliding accidents: probably the same thoughts nearly any person would have in that situation.

I would never hangglide. If there’s anything that freaks me out more than the thought of jumping off a cliff, it’s jumping off a cliff with my feet zipped into a bag.

All hail the power of the ocean, the wind, pelicans, sick humor, and conversation with strangers — they heal up my soul. Also, obviously… blogging.

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