Underwater keepsakes. Hunting, diving, fishing, looking for shells, for stones, for sand. The water is murky and not clear. Influx of sodium abound and packs a punch to my already stimulated senses. It generates saliva. It makes me spit. Ocean water, salty and sure of itself for what it is. “Whale piss”. But salt is good for you – as long as you don’t overdo it long term.
At first the waves feel cool and cold against overheated, SPF’d skin. There is a tenseness, a trepidation at first. Hair follicles contract. Feet tell the brain: “Icy!” But after a toe comes a foot, and after a foot comes an ankle, and after an ankle comes a calf, which leads to a knee, which leads to the mid-thigh. But then it’s, “Okay, stop!” And now you’re feeling good, but what became bearable to your legs seems a little more unbearable to your upper self. Shuffling forward, your feet sink into course sand. The waves are at your belly now. The seagulls are calling. The lifeguard is watching. There is a din of kids about, splashing and playing and crying and calling out to one another. Goggles protect their eyes from sunscreen, from the irritating salty water of the deep. So that they can see for themselves how murky it is.
I remember once going to Point Pleasant with my dad when I was six. A wave knocked me down so hard and I could not get up. Seconds felt like agonizing eternities as I spun about, unable to resurface. My dad pulled me, my mouth full of seawater and tears, the taste of which I could not tell the difference. I cried and cried. We packed up our stuff. I recall a boardwalk ride that was like a school bus, 2D but going round and round. I think that was Point Pleasant and not Rehoboth in Delaware, where we did spend a few family vacations. These little pinpricks of trauma dot my existence and for better or worse shaped me into the adult I am today. I can still see the murky water, eyes open in fear taking in all around me. “Respect the ocean”, a past high school principal said on the eve of Prom. Chuckling abound in the auditorium as we were all immortal then, and knew no fear. Invincible teenage emotion is a pretty potent drug, it’s a pretty potent state of mind. I’m reminded of those of our graduating class who are no longer with us…Waterfronts and unwelcome sunrises that beam lights onto truth.
Launching upwards at the opal sky, aliens watch and wait, indecisive and twiddling their many opposable thumbs. The androgyny of the astronaut suit or costume; Genderless. Bulky and broad in shape. So much risk involved to launch oneself quite literally out of this world. There is no sound or smell or breeze in space. It is nothingness where stars go to die. And it is in this graveyard where the stars know and have forgotten everybody’s name. Because it doesn’t matter. Because all there is is this upward void, beautiful as it is.
I think of Tang juice pouches and their powdered predecessors. I think of the dehydrated ice cream at the Air and Space Museum in Washington D.C. I think of the future, the sour/sweet of it all. The unexpected textures love and loss will bring. Experiencing hues throughout Life’s journey.
If I were an astronaut, my heart would beat out of my chest. How could you ever sleep before, during, or after launch? The future forever changed. Time-release LSD. No sunlight, too many buttons, pristine metal fixtures. Are there bunks and cots? Do you sleep standing up connected to some wire? All the science must swim strong in your brain; You gotta think up there; It’s not just about living the day-to-day. There are no creature comforts in orbit. Mind melts at the thought.
Ah, but to see Earth from a circular window, perfectly ensconced in the sun’s glow; Perhaps that would all be worth it. To live with that rise and set, that constant companionship. I think of blue whales, friendly and comforting. I think of partnership and thanks. Regulars don’t get or understand just how special this amazing thing is. Marvelous design. I hope I don’t put it to shame.
Creaks on the hull. Ship in danger. Parachuting falls millions of miles. A terrifying colorful scheme. Too high, too high, too high. Stomach does somersaults on the descent. You do your own confession, make your peace with God, willingly watch the Kodak slides of your life, praying you’re not skipping over the good parts, and tell the little voice wondering quietly aloud, “What might it be like to die?”, to please be quiet.
Hair grooming accessories like monsters have many teeth. And they can be equally vicious when working to detangle and get the knots out. I recall this hell as a kid. My mom always directing the menace. Now (though my hair is short), I don’t struggle as much. Even when my hair was long it wasn’t that big of a deal. When I was younger, my hair used to be volumous, curly, wavy, huge. But I got older. Time moved forward in a linear fashion like Nyan Cat stretching on forever (yet never eating his Pop-Tart body), the oxygen filled my lungs and dried my skin. Boa constrictors lived and died on jungle floors in the Amazon, shedding skin, hunting and capturing their prey, slowly digesting and laying eggs. And I, here, grew older. We all did. Except you, Benjamin. Every morning and sometimes evenings I pull the comb through. After the shower I pull the comb through wet hair. In the summer, I don’t do a damn thing but sleep on it damp and have the night have its way with it while I dream of dead relatives and a work commute I have long forgotten. The Conair light purplish/silvery comb. The comb I’ve had for years and years, the black one my mom has had for longer. With the white gums and the red teeth. It’s like Halloween or Christmas. I wonder sometimes how the plastic becomes molded. It must start out soft before hardening. Who engineered it? Patented? What a revolutionary idea for people to tame their manes, especially during a time when lice was more prevalent. Messy mornings with a spilled yolk and cold egg whites. Lukewarm toast still soggy holding melted butter. Hair gel after morning sex. Slicking it back like it’s the 1950s. The acceleration of technology and talking wires. Linemen and trains. All plain colors fit for a Puritan. Thick history book sandwich with no meat. Sometimes headaches come when you’re not even hungry. Morning routine remains sacred and unchanged. Military-fashion. Always making your bed.
Pre-calculus, pink dress. Wintertime, chalkboard, Shadow light projector, magic markers. Heavy textbooks, the memory of which still curses my aching back. Large graphing calculators – Fuck you Texas Instruments. Tiny square buttons bringing to life bullshit equations that I can’t stand. A class I’d love to cut. Math class annoyance dome. Headache and dehydration. Frustrated head-scratching leads to apathy. Tasting disappointment. Always false confidence when I hand in my quiz or test. Disappointment always when getting it back. Always worse than I expected. Could never get the hang of it. Don’t want to. Pressing little raised colored buttons. I remember the two Texas Instruments calculators – the non-graphing kind. One was more updated the other. The older, navy blue and quite rectangular; defined angles all around. Looked older. The more modern had somewhat curved edges; Calculator was navy, but the lid was black, some graphic scribed into it. Writing “HELLO” with upside down numbers and a decimal point. I definitely rely on calculators now, though I’m not sure where these other models have gone off too. Stuck in some clutter somewhere. I remember being a kid and being so scared of multiplication. I really didn’t understand it at first, couldn’t grasp it. Not sure when I actually did. I can see my desk in 3rd grade, and recall the way my classroom looked; Teacher’s desk to my left, door to my right. Blackboard, straight ahead. Multiplication table to the left of that. Before calculators it was just abacuses and fingers, I’d imagine. Some post-Greek world, lamp-lit pulp paper substitute, writing things out with ink. All those years, all that time spent wasting sitting in classrooms when I could have been writing songs and literally doing anything else with my time. Punch and crunch the numbers. Was it worth it, and who would I have been without it?
Thirsty for integrity of what I believed the stars and stripes stood for. A More Perfect Union. Was is all just horseshit? I am tired and mentally exhausted of interpretations of antiquated documents that only serves to benefits the white men who identify with the the Enlightenment spirit of the 18th century. There are different people now. There were different people then. It seems all like some elaborate game where 99% of players don’t get pieces, but they are directly affected by decisions from the 1%. I don’t ever want to taste blood in my mouth for the wrong reasons. I never want to self-vampirize and self-sabatoge. That’s not who I am or who I want to be. I remember the DC museums I visited and walking around, but you can’t feel the energy of history through glass boxes. Well, maybe you can but it has to be strong. Locomotive train, campaign trail with no microphone. I guess people really did listen then. We’re all so spoiled rotten now. Ignorant and alliterate. Believing the reverberations that bounce back within our own little bubbles. I told you I am tired. Spreading butter on toast and topping with orange marmalade, jelly. It’s always less filling than I believe it to be. Am I overreacting, or not reacting enough? I’m holding breaths again and forgetting my full lung capacity. The balcony of the auditorium at FMS. The 2nd floor. The flag. The wings of stairs. I still hear birds chirp every morning, I still hear landscapers working, dogs barking, cars driving. But it is quieter, more still. I do not know where it stands or fits. I have not felt like a fitting puzzle piece in awhile. I feel the piece, but not the fit. Nothing fits now. We missed some timeline jump. Illuminati network at work. Something is wrong in the timeline. To pray to Section 31 to make it all go away. Paper-maiche solidified dreams. The slime and residue of art class. The smell of Mr. Sketchers or a fresh box of crayons. Diving back into the swimming pool. I don’t want there to be anyone around. Scared to dance and hold hands. Here I am alone, bottom of the pool and hear the quiet hum of water pressure. I cannot hold my breath any longer and catapult to the surface.