They say a pearl is formed by a single irritating grit of sand or maybe a parasite that gets lodged into the soft tissue of an oyster. The oyster begins to cover it with deposits of smooth liquid nacre turning a once irritant into a beautiful, shining pearl. We all have our own grit of sand, that one thing holding us back. That parasite sucking our energy. That aspect of us we’d rather pretend didn’t exist. But that grit is just gonna keep rubbing us the wrong way until we acknowledge it. It’s not going to go away, it’s a part of us now, and always will be. Mine as well turn it into a pearl.
Today’s a big day for me. Job interview, first one since December. Entirely my fault. Not aggressive enough, not motivated enough. Probably not mature enough. Remember that ideal life I live over in paradise? Yea, well, it sort of keeps me from caring about living a responsible adult life. A bit of a catch-22 isn’t it?
I’m searching for the right clothes to wear. My two pairs of shorts aren’t really going to cut it, my corduroys you already know about, and the other has a blasted bleach stain on it. My only pair of pants I wore too many times during land work and now they have mud stains. Jesus, I’m like some weird forest creature coming out of the woods into civilization for a job interview. I better shave.
I got up extra early for this. My nerves already running hot. Good thing, because I haven’t been able to afford coffee so I’m running on pure anxiety this morning. I stepped out of my 10×20 tent and planted my feet into the wet grass as I took a large relieving piss over my new Taro patch I planted yesterday. The urine helps keep the pigs away.
Something irked me to spin around.I turned to find the recently full moon looking back at me shining that fading blue like it does when the first light of the day shimmers across the atmosphere. She stared me down. Or as Tolkien would put it, he stared me down. I wavered for a moment trying to catch its details with my less-than-perfect vision before walking down to my outdoors kitchen where I get hit with a blood-red sunrise peeking through the hazy filter that has settled around Hilo. The sun rising in the east, and the moon setting in the west. I need to wake up at this hour more often. This is magic.
The haze is from the volcano, Pele, if you want to be personable about it. We call it Vog. People don’t like the Vog. It’s full of toxic fumes, chiefly Sulfur Dioxide, which cause anything from mild allergic symptoms to loss of consciousness to crashing your car while driving to work to simply making poor nutritional decisions like eating a whole bag of chips. Fuck it all.Good thing I can’t afford an over-priced half empty bag of processed corn. Good thing I don’t own a car anymore. Sold that Subaru to my roommate who now drives me around. I used to drive him around.
But this morning I’m riding solo. I’ll be on my bike. My favorite thing to do these days. Coast down a four mile hill into town. There’s only one part where I have to pedal. The rest is just me and the wind blowing past each other. Me high-tailing to town, the wind high-tailing to Mauka.
The job is working at a mental health resident program. I’d be a relief assistant, hanging out and supporting adults with various mental health struggles. It’s one of those jobs where some days are quiet and calm, and others involve intervening in a crisis situation, and you never know what you’re gonna get walking in that day. I can handle crisis situations. It’s the anticipation that kills me.
This morning I’m on fire. I even did a couple head stand sets and even more impressively brushed my teeth. Things are looking good. A guy texted me this morning saying he wants to look at one of my bikes I’m selling, which would be abso-fucking-lutely perfect. I could really use the cash. That bike is so goddamn big though I don’t know what I was thinking when I bought it from my grizzly mountain-man of a friend. I guess I was doing him a favor, and I did think I could make a profit on it after fixing it up. It was in sad shape. Now it’s sitting in my tent upside down collecting crab spider webs and slug slime. Who the hell on this island is gonna fit that bike frame? I have to row that steel monster like a boat and pedal it like a ballerina on point. But maybe this guy is big enough. Maybe he’s my man. My saving grace. My Virgin Mary. I’ll throw in a Shark Bite milk shake to sweeten the deal if things start going sour.
The running has been good. I impulsively registered for the Hilo Marathon, cutting my savings in half by doing so. I cursed as soon as I hit the payment button. What an idiot. Who registers for an $80 race and can’t even afford a new pair of shorts for a once in a blue moon interview? Me. But at least I have a focus. 26.2 miles.
I signed up late, and started training even later, and now the race is but 4 weeks away. I’ll do what I can. 35 miles last week, 40 this week. Throw in a three mile tempo during a long run, and maybe I’ll be set to run a 3 hr marathon. Maybe.
I’ve never actually done a marathon before, well, never finished one. In 2014, I ran this very same race in Hilo, and had to quit at mile 21 after my right foot started acting up. I wore shitty shoes. I was an idiot, and now I want to redeem myself, and run it again, finish it this time. But I was in better shape back then. I was averaging 6:50 miles during that race. I’ll be happy to average 7-minute miles this time around. And I want to do it in my sandals. I’m an idiot.
But I’m an idiot who’s taking care of the grit. The world is my oyster and I am the oyster and this is my world and that fool that I am is going to be the pearl of my future. Time for a job interview.