Friday, March 30, 2012

Chapter 20: Deep Breaths.

Start at the very beginning, if you're new to the story. Otherwise, you're wasting your time.

I miss the sound of your voice.

4:30 AM.

Alarm goes off. Snooze. Shove the phone in pocket. Rub my eyes. The alarm doesn't need to go off, because I would have woken up anyway, within ten minutes.   Somehow my brain just knows when to turn itself on. I only went to sleep about three or four hours before, but that's normal.  Other alarm goes off.  Much louder, more annoying. Snooze. Put in pocket.

Throw on some clothes. Brush teeth. Step outside. It's chilly, and you can really feel the moisture in the air here.  There's condensed water on everything. This isn't Utah.

Start truck. Drive down the hill. The alarms from both cell phones keep going off every five minutes. For some reason, it takes me until about the fifth time to actually turn the alarms off instead of just pushing snooze. By that time, I'm well outside of town. I have no idea why I do that.

Right turn onto 11th street. Left turn onto Broadway.  Right turn on to Burdick.  Follow until it intersects interstate 2.  West on 2 for approximately 80 miles.

At five in the morning, it's still pitch black.  by six, when I get to Tioga, it hasn't even gotten to that dark blue color, when you can just make out the horizon.

I'm at my desk before that time.

On the road, the same familiar landmarks tell me exactly where I am.  Even in a dense fog, I know exactly where I am.  I see the fog lit up orange/red from the H2S flares.  Some of them are pretty big.  10 or 20 foot flames shooting up into the sky, burning off poisonous gases.

I know where I am. I always know exactly where I am.

On the drive home at the end of the day, I always have to stop somewhere between Stanley and Blaisedell and crash out for ten minutes, or an hour. I wake up unsure of where I am, or how long I've been there.  I'm done trying to drive while nodding off. Just doesn't seem smart.

But then I get home at six, or seven, depending on how many little detours I take to look at train yards, or truck yards, or whatever.

3 hours of sleep daily can't be the healthiest lifestyle.  But that's not the point.

I'm on the edge of going from Romantic, to cynic.  I don't know how driving to work somehow helps me arrive to this conclusion, but it's the truth.

I think that being a cynic is more convenient in my neck of the woods.

I feel like I've done too much. I worry too much. What do normal 23 year old guys do with themselves? Could I ever be normal?

Some of the previous posts have gone in really strange directions.  I don't think I had any idea where I wanted them to go, I just wanted to cut myself open and see who would want to see inside.  I don't know if anyone is still reading these, or if the novelty has worn off.

The shine always wears off.

I'm expecting it. I'm embracing it. It's been fun, but everything has an end.

People ask me how I'm doing all the time. What do I say? I say the exact thing every time.

I'm a total mess.

This blog has been kind of like the scene of a terrible car accident, blood everywhere, mangled body parts strewn about.  Broken glass and twisted metal all around.  Some people are in shock, some watching calmly.  Some people even get some kind of rush out of seeing the disaster.

You don't want to look, but you can't stop yourself.  You can't even blink.  There's some part of you that has to see all of the carnage.  

That's my blog. That's my life. That's sort of me.  It's a mess. A disaster. Maybe kind of tragic.  But you can't blink, you can't close your eyes, you can't look away.  It's awful. 

The girl I write about is not blogging about me.  She's writing about her boyfriend. How lucky she is to have him.

Sometimes I wake up thinking, "what have I done?"
Then I go to bed, thinking the same thing.

Sometimes I go through my days thinking about could have, would have, should have.


Rumble. Rumble. Rumble. 

I'm going off the road, on the left side. I hit the rumble strips, startling me, and getting me back to consciousness.  Why am I still driving? Will I never arrive at my destination? Is this some kind of metaphor for my whole life? Always on my way, but never arriving?

Turn on the heat. It's getting chilly.  Only the highest fan level works on my heater/air conditioner. I need to get that fixed.  I end up having to turn it on and off intermittently. Annoying. 

My dashboard lights aren't working, so I have to gauge my speed by the sound of the engine. It's dark in the truck, mind you.  When I turn my phone on and shine the light on the dash, I'm going about 90. Not a wonder I made it to Stanley so quickly. Maybe if I drive fast enough, I'll get to work before I fall asleep at the wheel. That's a winning strategy.

We think we want someone who will take our breath away. I see it differently.

Take a deep breath. Hold it. Don't let it go until I tell you to.

Think of that dream you have, where you're deep underwater, swimming towards the surface.

I want you to really visualize it in your mind. Make it real.

You don't know why you're so far underwater, but it doesn't matter. You're there.    

You're holding your breath, kicking your feet, pushing yourself up, and up with your arms.  Your mind and body are starting to fight each other.  This is when you panic. You need to breathe.

You panic. Frantically swimming and pulling yourself towards the surface. You've been holding your breath long enough, and your mind is spinning and reeling. Is the surface getting closer? It doesn't seem to be.  You're terrified.  Don't let your body betray your mind. Don't breath in until you're out of the water. 

Forget the past. Forget the future. Forget everything you've ever experienced. All you can think about, if you can call it thought, is air.  But you're still holding your breath.

You're not there yet.  There are no sounds in the water, except the gulp gulp noise of you swallowing over and over. You're distracting yourself from instinctively inhaling water.

3 feet away. 2 feet away. 1 foot. 6 inches.  The first thing out of the water, your head.

That first gulping breath. You know that sound you make. Gasp. Inhale. Take a few deep breaths. 

That deep breath is what it should be like when you meet him/her.  You breath all your life, from the moment you're born.  You take it for granted.  You never even give it a thought.  It just happens.

That is, until you can't breath.  

That special someone should be like that first breath out of the water.  Something like:

When I'm with her, I feel like I can breathe. Like I've been living my whole life underwater, just holding my breath.  I didn't even fully realize it until we met. Now I can breath. It's natural. It's amazing. It's perfect. I'll never take it for granted.

Right here, right now, I'm holding my breath.  I have been, for a long time. I don't know when I'll get to breath again. 

Until then, I'm kicking, and pushing, and trying to distract myself from the fact that I am afraid I'll die alone, somewhere deep underwater, where no one can hear me, or help me, or breath life into my body. 


I'm still driving. A semi slows way down to take a turn ahead. I notice just in time, and turn sharply in to the left lane, narrowly missing a serious accident.  It's such a beautiful day.

I think I'll go pick a fight. A fist fight. I think I want to bleed out of my face. It's been far too long and I want to feel alive.

How long can I keep doing this? How long can I hold my breath? 
Am I going to make it to the surface?


The Oilfield Romantic

This is raw, stupid honesty.

Erica Simm won the first mini contest.  She gets a special prize.  


We're assuming that you've read all of the previous chapters.  Write a page or two about which post you related to most, and why.  Be detailed, and be honest.  It can be as long as necessary for you to write the truth, your truth.

Send your little mini blog post to
The winner will be posted on the blog as a "guest" blog post, and can remain anonymous if preferred.

The winner gets dinner with the Oilfield Romantic at the restaurant of his choice, as well as a professional massage.

Not many will actually take the challenge, so the odds are really in your favor, should you choose to accept.

The winner will be posted Friday, April 6th at 8:00 PM my time. 

Start reading. Start writing.
Don't forget to breathe.

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