“Wet Paint.”

I’m having one of those mornings where the tips of my fingers feel like my nerves are on fire with a sense of emotion that’s almost numbing, but I’m anything but asleep. I promised myself the next time I felt this way that I would stop everything and write despite how long my to-do list would be or whomever’s stink of hot air would be breathing down my neck, pressing deadlines, hovering pressure because truth be told it’s all my own. Headache.

My priorities have all become backwards where I now crouch in a corner, hanging a precarious sign that says “Wet Paint” with a lack of humor and my only hope of getting out is to force myself enough tears to somehow float my way out except that somehow in all of this I’ve disconnected myself from the ability to feel those emotions. Those ones. Not all of them because obviously I still have this fire in these fingertips. This inexplanable ability to feel overwhelmed because I’m not saying enough. Even here, on these digi-pages where I’m really saying nothing at all to anyone. I’m only saying enough in hopes that the right people will ask questions, maybe, but they never do. In fact, more than anything these pages just create fights with the people closest to me because I write so vaguely and somehow it seems to always be too much about current affairs that it leaves them uncomfortable. Insecure. This isn’t really about you. It’s my side of the story… my attempt to flood my pained-in corner and get the hell out of here for once and discover something new; a new perspective so I can be anything but beached behind this black paint and this sign of “Wet Paint.”

I thought maybe he’d tell me he was dying, that it was incurrable cancer of some kind. Most likely lung. I wasn’t going to tell him that was the reason why I went crazy immediately after the last time I saw him; that’s why I have a permanent scar now through the middle of my left hand where the metal of the Iron went through after the fight with my brother when I cleared the banister in a helpless attempt of reeling myself around the second floor corner. He’s not going to die any time soon. I should be incredibly happy about this. But as soon as he mentioned the words degenerative Alzheimer’s – every challenge he had just given me suddenly became much harder, my world became entirely selfish, and the long road he drove week after week for our visits became that much longer, more important and that much more of a sacrifice for him and his family.

I got into my car and for a brief moment, tears filled my eyes. He’s like my father. I thought about how we don’t even have a picture together after five years and that’s something we will need to do soon, very soon. I gave myself some time, running errands for my brother before I head to Lindon to meet the most beautiful, smiling faces I’d ever seen. For the moment, I was saved. The pressing issue was quickly forgotten and the rest of my weekend was filled with a sweetness and laughter I hadn’t expected.

Buckling small children into the backseat of my car and flipping the doors and windows to child-lock came as a simple delight to the early afternoon before cruising to Tooele for the Lucas Oil truck races. We spent the early afternoon browsing the sportspark, visiting my brother at his desk, picking up free racing swag, slushies, cotton candy, lunch, all before finding the perfect spot on the grass and showing off our grass-rolling skills before the race. The kids were impressed by the fireworks and pyro-technics, the racers who couldn’t even see where they were going, the jumps, and the dives. We left just in time to head over to downtown Salt Lake for an evening at the Salt Lake City Arts Festival to play in the Library’s Fountain, splashing each other, checking out the local and touring art, buying some crazy amazing jewelry, getting the kid’s faces painted, buying some cool kid’s toys, and getting some good, free yogurt. We finally head out around 8pm and got the kid’s home to their Mom’s house so their Dad and I could head out to karaoke, where afterwards we ran into the world’s most randomly placed giant Jesus (only in Provo) and then fell asleep watching Gangs of New York.

Together, cleaning out booster seats and frosty’s the next morning after he had mowed the lawn and I had taken an early morning shower, the idea gave the illusion of a life. I had asked him if he wanted me to stay or wanted me to go. I’m still use to being told to go or being left alone – like a secret or a shame. Although I’ve known him most of my life, he doesn’t know me well enough to know if this is who I am or not – meaning, how often I do this sort of thing. It’s been over a year since I’ve done anything like this.

I got in the car and put on his sunglasses. He looks better in mine. I was taking him to Salt Lake. I started to think again. Too much. It’s a miracle I ever know where I’m going when I get that deep into thought. Construction zones. I started thinking about when I got back to Utah and how the greatest part about it was getting to visit with him again, every other week mostly, down here in Orem. He would come from St. George and I would come from Salt Lake. It was anything but a fair trade. He’s never charged me a dime. Something about it was always more like family. He called me an angel. I was his blessing. My own parents called me that. He really was more like a dad, but I would probably never tell him that. Sometimes we hug. Sometimes I don’t want to. I get scared. Scared of exactly this… losing people. When I first saw him he asked me about being married. I was suppose to be. It was only just recently that I had told him about Angelina and I didn’t even really tell him about her. She’s suppose to be 7 now. I never explained anything about it to him. I couldn’t.

When I was engaged there was only one person that I really wanted there. Him. He was the first person I invited. So often I’ve gone on and on about not wanting weddings. And I don’t. But if I could “bring anyone home” I’d want them to meet him. I’ve already lost my Mom, my Dad will either not approve or not care about almost anyone I bring home, but I will know how I feel about someone simply by the way Davee shakes their hand. He will never pass judgement. I could bring him a bum from the streets and he would approve if that’s what I wanted. But he would know if I was lying to myself because I could never lie to him.

His words and challenges from the day before started to sink in as I listened to the conversation we were having on the ride up to my house in Salt Lake. The pace of my drive hovered somewhere between 60mph and a 100mph depending on my thoughts. Maybe I really should just drop everything and take care of myself. Maybe I should be that drastic. But with his words came fair warning. He told me that nobody in this world was as capable and smart as I was, that I could be successful in an instant no matter where I chose to be or who I chose to be with. BUT, I have this HUGE wall in front of me that stops me. This is very true. I have this huge anchor of responsibility that keeps me from that success here or anywhere and that’s this anchor of responsibility that ties me to taking care of everyone and everything else FIRST. It’s the same anchor that keeps me from allowing myself to be taken care of or deserving of anything. It’s why the two of us sat together as he told me his life is killing him… and that he can relate to me so well that he has tried over these years to help me be anything but exactly like him. He challenged me to get off this road, to exit NOW and that he will do his best to exit with me, to save his life. With tear-filled eyes he frightened me as I recalled my own life, my own tragedies as doctors told me not that long ago that I was killing myself at the age of 24.

More than anything I went to flood this room, exit. GET OUT from behind this “Wet Paint” so I can LIVE and be the Legacy he’d like me to be for him, for myself. I want this for myself. I want this so I can ALLOW myself to be loved and not jus constantly giving all that I have because I feel so much. I want so badly to have this life that I deserve before I lose everyone important to me that I want to share it with. I hope by the time I’m buckeling in small children in the backseat of my car, flipping doors to childlock and they’re comfortably reaching for me and their Dad comes home to kiss me hello and not goodbye, to smile at me and wants to be there, wants to tell the world that he’s the luckiest man because he gets to spend the evening with me or because of all the surprising and creative things I do for him and I get to stop being someone’s “oh… a friend” — I just hope that someone in my life is still alive and well, and I just hope that my soul still feels alive and my heart still feels well… because right now I feel like I’m dying.

To laugh often and much, to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children, to earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends, to appreciate beauty, to find the best in others, to leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, or a garden patch… to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded! – Emerson

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