I’m just steps away from the house I used to live in with my ex-husband out in the suburbs. Actually, I’m at the Starbucks that was so conveniently located at the time, and I’m eating, or rather, have already scarfed down a double chocolate chip cookie and I’m making progress on my vanilla latte – two things that are on my “Sylvie don’t eat” list. But today, I don’t care. And you know what? They are both damn, damn good. So good, that I may buy another cookie. Maybe.
What’s weird about today is that being here doesn’t feel weird. I normally get this strange déjà vu feeling whenever I come back to these parts, but I was pleasantly surprised that today, they are just regular streets in a pretty town.
Another thing that is unusual today is me. And perhaps I am misusing the word “today”. For the purpose of this sentence and the last two, the exact length of “today” is about six weeks, give or take a few days, hours, whatever. Over the course of this time, the Mean Lady has been steering the boat. I’m not sure how she’s been managing with the oars constantly out of the water, whacking me in the head, trying to beat me into submission; she may be mean, but that lady is one heck of a multitasking mama. With a strong arm.
At first, she started off slowly.
Mean Lady hits Sylvie over the head with a oar. TONK!
Mean Lady: Go get a job!
Mean Lady is violently pushed out of boat.
This happens a few times. I consider buying a single person kayak but money is tight, and I may need to save up for a new oar – seems one of them has dent in it in the shape of my head.
That Mean Lady – she is also a creature of persistence. And a heck of a swimmer. She keeps climbing back in, hitting me over the head. Each time, the process is swifter and stronger. I start to suspect maybe she’s been CrossFitting too. Sigh.
A few weeks later…
Sylvie: I know, I know – “get a job” Could you quit it with the oar?
Mean Lady: Are you gonna get a job yet you crazy flake?
Sylvie: Sigh No, but I’ll find myself a project.
Mean Lady: Get a job you crazy flake!
Mean Lady go splash.
And then more weeks, days or some measure of time later…
Mean Lady: Seriously? You have to ask?
Sylvie: Fine, I’ll look for a part-time job.
After another few weeks and several resumes sent out…
Sylvie: I’m going to drown you, I swear.
Mean Lady: Get a real job. You have experience. You can earn a decent salary. None of this part-time bullshit. Besides, I want some pretty things and a nice dinner. Get to it!
Sylvie: I know, I know, but I have to believe in what I do. And they have to accept me for the quirky crazy person I am.
More time. Dozens of resumes. No phone calls. TONK!
Sylvie: You are *this* close to becoming a statistic!
Mean Lady: For what? Imaginary Mean Ladies killed by crazy, flaky girls armed with oars?
Sylvie: Oh you shut up! And give me my sarcastic wit back you nasty…
Mean Lady: No, I’m keeping that. But you know what you can have? TONK!
Another week. More resumes. One call that ends with a “yeah, we’ll call you back if we want to pursue this”. Editing of stuff online in a desperate attempt to hide the true nature of my quirky, “flaky” self. Countless tears interspersed with sobs and hugs from the Acadian.
Mean Lady: HEY! I’m hitting you over the head here – can I get a little attention?
Sylvie: Oh, who? Me? You want attention from tear-stained, sad, soggy, watered-down Sylvie? Well you know what? She’s got nothing for you. NOTHING! Not for you, or anyone else. She’s just tired and teary. And she needs to get her ass to Costco to go buy more Kleenex. And no. She doesn’t have a job.
I couldn’t take a whole lot more. Was there a point to being in a boat when it offered no shelter or comfort. Where none of my efforts could ever please the captain. And why wasn’t I the captain? And how the heck was I supposed to answer all these questions with such a splitting headache? And even if I tried, who would be answering – crazy quirky Sylvie, or the watered-down version drowning in her own tears?
I might have been wise or utterly stupid, but I did the only thing I could: I jumped ship.
Mom, thank you for those swimming lessons when I was a kid. Treading water was always one of my faves. Now let’s see how I do with a cookie in one hand…This post may contain affiliate links.
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