Half a Cucumber

I didn’t realize I knew where I was going

Two months ago Jim and I were standing in early light at Port Allen on Kauai, waiting to board a catamaran. The itinerary was to snorkel while the waters were calm, then head up the Napali Coast and, if we were lucky, see some whales. I unlocked my phone and, as if I needed any justification for being there, checked the weather in Minnesota. Minus 20 that morning. The weather where I stood in shorts and sandals, 68.

I checked e-mail, quickly deleting a few. Then I noticed one from the Minnesota Women’s Press. A solicitation, I decided, wondering how I got on that distribution list. We still had 15 minutes before departure, so I opened the e-mail.

The editor was asking permission to publish an essay I had submitted. Essay? What was she talking about? I admit my brain wasn’t fully revved. I had avoided coffee that morning, concerned about how my stomach would handle the motion of the boat for six hours. But I wasn’t so dull that I was sure I hadn’t sent anything to the press. Ever. There must be a mistake.

The editor even attached the article I had submitted, perhaps by way of saying, “You probably thought we never received your submission since we didn’t acknowledge it or decided it wasn’t right for our needs at this time.”

Curious, I opened the document. My submission was dated October 2014, 16 months ago. Gradually, the haze lifted. I had picked up a copy of the magazine once, seen a column called “My Story,” and thought I could share mine. And so, apparently, I had.

I read words I’d written, then forgotten. Yet they were familiar. The essay, “Life after Death,” is a kind of overview of the memoir I’m working on. I was surprised, more than anything, to read that even a year and half ago I had a sense of what I was doing, where I was going. (Or, that I am just as confused today as I was back then.)

As I muddle my way toward a structure that will hold these events and reflections, I feel reassured that I have some clarity about what I’m doing. Which was just the assurance I needed yesterday when I opened the freezer to pull out the fruit to make a smoothie and found, under the bag of strawberries, half a cucumber.

You can read the essay from the April issue of The Minnesota Women’s Press here.

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