No I am not on crack. I did have ice cream before bed though...
Dave taught me how to spin for kahawai. For the uninitiated, spinning involves a little rod with very light nylon, and a shiny metal lure, that you cast out into the surf and reel back in at little-fish-swimming speed. Prior to this, all my fishing experience had either been surfcasting with a 12 foot rod and what Dave called 'smelly bait' - the usual style, cast your line, wait. Wait some more. Etc. Or, fishing with lures towed behind the gameboat that I used to work on, for fish that were bigger than I was.
Kahawai is a combination of the Maori word for 'strong' - kaha - and the Maori word for 'water' - wai. It means 'strong swimmer' more or less. And they are. Here's one:
Mostly they're about 18 inches long, but in Northland you get the Kermadec kahawai that can reach in excess of 2 feet. (side note: why do we always measure fish in inches?). Anyway, they are pretty good eating as long as you eat them the day you catch them, and they are easy to catch on lures because they're hunters. They come into the surf after the whitebait in spring, so spinning around the mouths of rivers can be quite productive. And *cue gasps of horror from the animal rights people* they are fun to catch. On light nylon, it's always touch and go whether you'll land one or not.
Spinning, if you're into fishing, is the most fun you can have with a rod you can carry on a bicycle, without getting dirty. And you'll most likely come home with something to eat. It's also active, in that you're walking along the beach doing something. Casting, winding in, looking for good spots...
So anyway, Dave taught me how to do this. He could also cast an overhead reel (something I never mastered), and usually caught more fish than me. In my dream, I remember looking at his rod (no that is not a euphemism) and the way he used it, and feeling inadequate. Like there was something I wanted to live up to, but felt I never would.
And that's one of the things I remember from back then - that feeling of inadequacy, like I'd never quite be good enough. He was SO.VERY.COMPETENT. at everything he did, and I .. well, in my own opinion, I wasn't. And at the time, I probably held it against him, felt like he was rubbing my nose in it. I remember feeling resentful at times, thinking "You know, if you fucked up Just Once, I'd feel better." I remember wishing everybody liked me the way everybody liked him, and wondering what was so special about him. Remember, I was crazy in love with this guy, so I could see why I liked him - but it also reflected in my mind as a failing in myself.
And I could never understand when he said "Just do your thing, be yourself. Don't try to be like anyone else."
Nowadays, I can see what was going on. I'd spent my marriage being told I wasn't good enough, that I was to blame for everything, that I should be like anyone else except myself because who I was, was someone worthy of abuse. So I was a) defensive and b) trying to find an identity I could live with, that didn't get abused. My self-esteem was pretty much absolute zero, and the only things that felt good were things I was good AT. And when Dave came along with his competence and his natural charm and his insistence that I should just be myself, I didn't get it - instead I resented him for being everything I wanted to be but telling me I shouldn't try to be like him.
Now, I get it. Copying Dave would cause me to become Dave. Not me. And in order to understand that lesson, I had to lose him. Which is incredibly sad, but also the only way to grow, I guess. After Dave left, I had nothing. I had to pretty much start all over again, making new friends, finding things I liked, figuring out what to do with myself. And there was nobody to lead me or show me how to spin for kahawai or back a trailer or come up with ideas for adventures. And because there was no option, I learned to do it for myself. Somewhere along the line I developed an identity that wasn't yoinked from someone else.
Now, I understand a lot more from his perspective. Now, I find myself saying to people - "Just do your thing, be yourself. Don't try to be like anyone else." - and seeing the blank look of not understanding, and me groping for words to try and explain that the more what's inside is allowed out, the less you monitor yourself based on assumptions about what other people might think - the happier you are. The more that shows, the more attractive you are as a person, and the more grounded in your identity and therefore at peace in your head. Or something like that anyway. I mean - just be yourself. Like Dave said, all those years ago. I wish I had understood then. I didn't, and I lost him because of it - but I learned. Might have taken me a year or five, but I did.
I feel like these dreams are showing me the completion of a circle. I am now in the place I wanted to be five years ago, but couldn't see the path to. Dave, in his scorched-earth kind of way, put me on that path. Don't get me wrong, I would have got there anyway - but there's nothing like having your heart broken and standing in that desolate space where there's nothing, to get you moving in a direction - any direction.
So once again, I guess I'm thanking Dave for popping up in my dreams and showing me how far I've come.
I am wondering though, why I need to see this now. Is it just a closure thing, ready to start the next cycle? And I wonder (with excitement and trepidation) what the next cycle will be. Or do I just really need to stop eating dairy?
Part of me wants to apologise for inflicting my long introspective ramblings about Dave on you. But I won't. I have never talked much about that, because it was too painful. Now, it's not painful - it makes me happy to finally understand. And for that, I can't be sorry.
Today, my car's in the shop getting the weird CV joint rattle repaired, my internet Had Better Get Fixed, and I am learning about individual positivism. Which is not looking in the mirror and saying nice things to yourself, even though it sounds like it. It's a school of thought in Criminology. From what I gather, it's based around the idea that not all people commit crimes based on rational choice - instead, some folks behave in irrational ways sometimes. And we should try to reform people.
Can we say ORLY?