If you hope to find a mermaid in her natural habitat, look no further than my living room. No. Seriously. I have developed something of an affinity for the shimmery green creatures that emerge from deep within the salty sea with Pantene-perfect hair and a killer bikini top. Given that fascination, my work girlfriends have decided that I am, indeed, a member of the clan. When I came home last year to find an unmarked package from Amazon Prime on my doorstep, I was concerned that someone had hacked my account. That fear shifted to horror when I though that perhaps I had taken to shopping for deals with a wine-buzz once again. It turns out, what I found in the package was a literal representation of my lofty imagination: wrapped beneath a pile of delicate white tissue paper, I found a card from one of my very best friends and colleagues. Simply stated, it read: “For my mermaid.”
I pulled out a long teal crochet blanket – it tapered off at the bottom and created a mermaid tail that would allow me to nestle my 5’10” frame comfortably inside. While this gesture was so simple – after all, my girlfriend routinely referred to me as a mermaid in jest – it has since become so much more than a novelty item. As I sit with my laptop in a side-lying position, reaching deep within for some semblance of understanding of how to make right such a very long list of wrongs in the world – my mermaid blanket has become my safe space. It is a symbol of warmth and comfort, but also one of imagination and wonder. As someone who feels the daily struggle to distinguish the sterile from the surreal, my mermaid blanket allows me to dive into the inner workings of my mind and think freely…deeply…like a vast and varied ocean…without fear of reproach or reprimand.
Perhaps this feels to literal. Maybe it strikes you as childish or immature. Maybe you’re wondering what the hell a thirty-year-old woman is doing with a security blanket. And yet I ask you – do you honestly expect anyone to believe that you don’t do the same? Is it possible that you might go through life with such a sense of strength and stoicism that you require nothing for those moments when it all feels like too much is on your porcelain plate? Oh no…no, I cannot believe this to be true. Whether it’s a literal blanket or a private corner or a mantra or a bowl of Chunky Monkey or a silent treatment to the rest of the fucking planet, one cannot exist without burrowing deep down into a safe space. I, too, believe myself to be a hero. I, too, think that I can handle any curveball that is thrown my way. I, too, feel like I need to remain the impenetrable rock when everyone around me is whittled like woodwork. Yet I am learning – as I become older, and I hope, wiser – it is not possible to throw yourself into battle every single moment of every blasted day and not find the wounds of your battle cut deeper than they first appeared. Maybe it was the adrenaline that masked your pain. Perhaps you’re just thick skinned and hardheaded and primed by the grind of you circumstances. But there will come a moment…there will come a day…when the world in which you’ve waged a war begins to crumble. The marble markings of your abilities will be cracked and filled with clay. And when this happens…when you come to the realization that there is no such thing as impenetrable or invincible or irrefutable…I will be there by your side. In my crochet mermaid blanket…in the safety of my deep-sea space…offering you a hand to come and dive deep into the sea with me.
Everybody needs someone. Every heart needs a hand to hold it. Every brain needs a bucket to wring it all dry. Every dreamer needs to find the ground and every realist needs a head in the clouds. You cannot do it all – at least not all the time. You cannot be Atlas, for even the Gods carried fatal flaws. You cannot allow yourself to be and do and give and learn and love and fight and carry on without a safe space to call your own. A safe space – that is what I call my home. Whether sea-deep in adventure or knee-deep in the mire: embrace your safe space…even if only for a little while. And right now…in this very moment…this mermaid will do the same.