Stubborn or steadfast? No Surrender

This post has resonance for me today, March 24, 2019 When I wrote it, I still lived in California. 

Daily Prompt: Never Surrender, by Krista on March 11, 2014: Are you stubborn as a grass stain or as easy going as a light breeze on a warm day? Tell us about the ways in which you’re stubborn — which issues make you dig your heels in and refuse to budge? Photographers, artists, poets: show us STEADFAST.

I’m not very stubborn. I think my friends would say something different, though they would agree I’m not one of those “My way or the highway” types, well, yes I am. I’m “My way IS the highway.” Long ago I had a dream that was based on events in my real life. I went from place to place, hanging out with people who then attempted to foist their “trip” (we said that then) onto me. At a certain point in each episode I said, “F…. this s…. man, I’m getting out of here!” (It’s a lot more powerful in real words.) I toyed with the thought of having that as my epitaph.

I think “steadfast” is another thing. That’s something involving honor and respect. It’s loyalty and commitment. Outside of marriage (not my métier) I’m very steadfast. I really do, once I make the commitment, “bear it out until the edge of doom.” I do not know if this old-school virtuous behavior is always wise. (Continuing to write the Daily Prompt has often seemed doubtful but I haven’t given up. 😉 )

But… the song to which today’s prompt alludes is important to me. Back in the ’80s I wondered what I was doing. I was teaching and married. My husband was a nice guy, but he didn’t love me. I was doing everything in my power to put a good face on things, holding my marriage together, steadfastly building a relationship with his kids (whom I loved), steadfast in my life-time attempt to reach my mother (ha), building what I thought would be a career, I was pushing hard to make everything work. Perseverance. This song. Had I surrendered? What was I really?

New students arrived, were interviewed for placement in oral communication classes. One student, Jean Francois Minot-Matot from Geneva, answered the questions in a very a-typical way. “I live for ski,” he said. I had once “Lived for ski.” I heard his statement echo down the chambers of my heart. The sound returning said, “What do I live for?” On my way home from that interview I listened to this song for the first time, played on a new tape. Those two events, “I live for ski,” and the refrain from the song,

'Cause we made a promise we swore we'd always remember 
No retreat, baby, no surrender 
Blood brothers in the stormy night 
With a vow to defend 
No retreat, baby, no surrender

I’d made that vow with people — where were they? I was sure one was dead, another was lost forever to time because I sent him away, another was on the hellish rollercoaster of addiction. The fields of my childhood were long gone in an eternal golden autumn, and my life was nothing more than patching broken things and holding them together until the glue dried. Was I where I’d set out to be? Where were the beautiful words? The thoughts, the conversations, the stories? Where were the adventures? Where was the world — why was I not in it? I’d made a start and retreated, pulled back into a stucco-home in an East San Diego ghetto and a man who didn’t love me?

“I live for ski.”
“What do you do when the snow has melted?”
“Er, OUI! We have ze glacier. You know glacier?”

St. Mary’s glacier. I’d never skied it. I always believed I would ski it, but how would I do that, here under the banana palms, surrounded by bougainvillea.

“Er, and I, I like ze windsurf.”

I was 34. About to turn 35. I was middle-aged (what did I know?) I was over. Actually, my life began because of Jean Francois Minot-Matot. I’ve “gotten” nowhere with those dreams, but I learned dreams are not a place to go; they are a place to be. And, every dream involves a little patching up and holding together.

7 thoughts on “Stubborn or steadfast? No Surrender

  1. Great post. I never skied St Mary’s glacier although we did have climbing school snow and ice skills practice on it, self arrests, etc. I still recall my friend Amos, who was belaying me not stopping me, as ” it was so interesting watching you do the rolls and flips down the snow”. Don’t climb with people who are stoned. Fortunately, I was a gymnast, the snow was soft, and I stopped myself. 1970.

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