I’m sitting in an airport. It’s quiet that way it is when it’s early and people are still trying to shake the shackles of sleep. We’re all polite and gentle with each other as you can be when the day has not had the chance to make you hard. I watch the twinkling lights in the darkness on the runway just outside the big windows, mesmerized the way I was as a kid the first time I took a plane.
I, too, am sleepier than I should be for the trip that lays ahead of me but I’m rallying. I’m weary and excited. I’m anxious to move and I want to be still. I’m tired and run down in that vaguely adult way we all are from holding our lives together with bubble gum and scotch tape. And after this weekend’s trip, I will have been on the road 13 out of 31 days this month.
That’s not a complaint.
I remember praying for the life I have now.
Three years ago I sat in my car in the very back of the parking lot of my job, sobbing, as I did everyday. Wailing and running to catch up with my breath in big, shuddering gasps as you do when you’re crying yourself lightheaded. I prayed so hard, my words a tangled mess, ripping through my throat. I was heartbroken and burnt out. In a dead end job working for a manager who hated me and wanted to make sure I knew it. I was losing my hair. I was gaining weight. I wasn’t sleeping. I was breaking down.
When I couldn’t pray anymore, I repeated song lyrics to myself over and over, the mantra a buoy in the storm.
The water may be deeper than its ever been
Inside of 6 months, my life looked entirely different.
I spent much of the last week doing work I love with people I love more. I did that work for the highest ranking black woman in my organization who is intentional and strategic about championing me and my progression. My phone chimed and jingled constantly with friends checking on me, sending me things to make me smile, time zones be damned. I found myself smiling despite myself watching a particular name scroll across my phone screen. I was home barely 24 hours before jumping on another plane to go celebrate one of my most favorite people in the whole universe.
I’m not heartbroken anymore. I’m still tired, but in the way you are when your life is big and full and happy. This year has been difficult in my orbit. But I’m loved on and reasonably healthy and prayed over. I don’t have to cry in the car anymore.
I didn’t drown.