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.
I come to you from a darkened space as a mannequin in the dark of 1950s department store. A time-traveling mannequin. That’s explains my acute awareness of the year. The quiet, so deafening and distracting in its loudness. Perhaps a creak or two from the ventilation system – or a ghost. Dust motes swim silently in the air, gliding by unrefracted light. I am a jet ski laser focused on monuments, schilling sipping psilocybin, crying out, “Lord, please!”. It’s all too much. Rock-a-bye tumbling class, long legal sheet, pink pieces of paper. Christmas tree decorations and ornaments hang. There are rugs that cover large stretches of cold, concrete floor and on each end, a wrinkled tassel sewn in gold-hued thread. Pleasure pointers, pier-pushers. In to the dirty water I go. The Third River. Staples and tape and hot glue guns do not wash away sin, but stick to what needs to be stuck. Grinning at the mere thought of spinach-speckled teeth. Warmed unique Eunice after a cold spring day. Marching orders from high command. The greens and browns and camouflage to where it doesn’t blend in anymore. Riot city makes it rain and wait. Flowing, flowering, gasping, fawning. Paper hats at a fast food restaurants; The crinkles they make. Hand-cut fries. Steak frites. Marshland, traversing through with heavy boots. Dizzy spells. Unwell. Little bells ring on the sides of the rug and are disturbed when stepped on. Not wanting to forfeit or fear. Making me believe. 2010 iPod mini. The ones with all the different colors. Concepts change and evolve. I want a hammer. Reaching through dollhouse garage like a giant Godzilla dressed in pink, not understanding that I am terrorizing Barbie and all her friends and kids and her kids’ friends. Creamed corn served up slow. Piece the memories together like scrapbooked photographs; After school kitchen clubs where the atmosphere felt mildly jovial, but still annoyingly repressed. Pitcher filled with lemonade, skirting the table cloth, the waitress makes a fast recovery and pours expertly. Her nametag says “Tina” and she has curled, light-red hair and is wearing lipstick. The journey here was long.
Charcoal etches a fine design. Like wisps of carbon and ash and coal, whispering shapes to live, to life. Lines drawn and coaxed so that their edges are relaxed. All rounded bends and no sharp corners. It tastes bitter in my mouth remembering the remembrance of you. Saintly slips of the tongue usher in new awakenings and new boundaries. Rocketships take flight, acknowledging the first pang of love. The pre-flight checklist in confirming its certainty. Sweets seem bittersweet; Bougie chocolate chips, gripping my wallet and sucking my teeth begrudgingly paying, on line at the grocery storm, store, story. Simplest of feet shuffles. Red converse and the scuffed toe that tells a non-eventful story of not picking up my feet enough. Depression from the head down. It falls like cold, frigid air. An open window above my bed in February. A month known for its dreary frost. Where one has thoughts about, “will winter ever truly end?” So much for sailboats and warm winters in coastal southern cities. A 70 degree Christmas. Art museum excursions. Hallucinating sounds of seagulls, circling. Pavlov effect where I can hear the ocean and taste saltwater in my mouth. Where my mind is about to breach with summertime manifestations, hopes and dreams and memories. All signals point. Granted, it’s whatever I say it will be. Major investments in law and banking. Snarky grumbles and grimaces of men sitting in teak rooms; They are wide and their faces are large and pig-like. I cannot find commonalities with them. Gentrified neighborhoods suffering their own fleeting deaths. Marble countertop monthly installments. Getting a grip. Baseball bat, choking up. Same marginal difference. Rutland. Wetland. Christ for Christmas. Lederhosen antiquities. Time and place. Rushing the eventualities. Needing a pause. Questioning none. Roots dig into fertile ground and rustle the soil in slow motion. Sometimes the ground can get really stubborn. I am wanting and wishing forever. Putting on airs and glancing at troubadours past. Unnecessary homework. Grimace and shake. McDonald’s drive-thru convenience. Coming up crisply, Crispix cereal. Halloween, nighttime. Glance at pumpkin. Razorblade sharp. Billow and bend. Creating cracklings around.
Wash and rinse. Shampoo, blow-dry. A thorough baptism in the beauty salon. Weighted in the chair, feeling heavy with the smock over my body and the towel momentarily over my eyes. Mouthwash routine. Getting the plaque out, getting the germs out. I will do this for the rest of my life, morning and night. Stumped about a question I cannot answer. Rinse my brain with beverage. Carbonated and frothy and will at least get me to bed. Not that I’ll sleep well, but it’ll at least get me there; Make me agreeable. A cold frosted glass versus a room temperature piece of plastic. A good versus evil of sorts. Socks spit out of the sock drawer. It’s a paranormal event where a ghost is not sure when he should wear to his first day of school. All I can see is a multi-color hurricane avalanche. It’s time to tuck your chin under and roll. It is multi-color gymnastics. Not only costumes and outfits, but equipment. It’s the 90s. That gym seemed so big when I was 5 years old. Swishing around the memory and spitting it out. The reverberation of the room, staying put before moving on. A pitchfork in a bale of hay near a trough where horses lackadaisically drink. Droughts bring conundrums. Old West. Oregon Trail again. September leaves are calling in the wind, whipping them up into a tailspin frenzy. Rockets take off from the Cape without a sound I bet; Some future distant daydream (again). Hard to pinpoint the silence. Could be you’ve just gone deaf. Magic happens when we least expect it. It sometimes happens with our eyes closed in the dark. Deplaning all doubt, registering what comes next. A flow chart and each potential possibility. The mouthwash goes from one cheek to another as I may awkward eye contact with myself in the mirror. Having a laugh, taking it easy, spitting out the foam. Fake rabid dog at play. Old Yeller. A movie that felt like a previously recorded national event. “Will you please rise for the national anthem?” Uniformity in nationalism; The deviation of black keys from white keys but the piano still plays. Marvelous milling about outside a ball game. The smell of Premio sausage getting toasty on the grill. Overpriced everything, go into the debt and leave that game wishing you could just beam right out. “Scotty, where are you?” – Instead of taking the B train (by total accident), all local stops, back to Penn Station from Yankee Stadium. God, I long to do it again. It’s been lonely without a ballgame that means something, that counts for something. Dusty feet bathing in dirty water. A washbasin made of worn plastic. A copper wire.