Friday, July 26, 2019

A big piece of dandelion fluff followed me home for a while yesterday. It was there when I crossed the street, hovering just above my eye level over the sidewalk. We made eye contact, this traveling wish and I, and I watched it float a little higher for a minute, moving so slowly, seeming out of sync with the wind. I turned and kept walking, but a few steps further down the road I noticed its shadow on the ground from just behind me and to the right. It startled me slightly--had my own shadow been replaced by dandelion fluff? Am I really just a wish in girl clothing? That would explain so much--but we were traveling at different speeds and were soon parted.

I don't know where it was going, but I hope it got there. 

Thursday, July 25, 2019

I read a book a few weeks ago about the last voyage of the whaleship Essex, which was rammed by a sperm whale and sank, abandoning its whole crew to a couple of rickety whaleboats and the ocean. Just when everyone was almost dead they came across a small island that had a small source of fresh water only when the tide was at exactly the right place. Three of the men from the ship decided on this island that being lost at sea is for suckers and they'd take their chances on what barely counted for land, and they watched as their crewmates sail away again. They eventually made it off the island alive but that tiny spring, their main source of fresh water, was never seen again.

Last night I was up for hours, crazybrain spinning like a mashup DJ, layering the Lizzo song that has been stuck in my head with an imaginary conversation about something I'm mad about at work with a series of ludicrous worst case scenarios. I keep hoping to age out of late night worst case scenarios (or, let's be honest, any time of day worst case scenarios) but it never seems to happen, so I still just sit there for hours counting the rats scurrying across the patio below and worrying about what if gravity fails. Last night I plotted and plotted about what to do about an emergency appendectomy this weekend while my boyfriend is uncontactable in the woods, and truly it is both exhausting to be me and to be around me, sometimes.

Surprisingly, sticking around on that island turned out to be the better option than sailing off again, since the cannibalism didn't get going until later. Elsewhere on the island were eight skeletons of people who didn't get rescued later, which must have been a disheartening sight to find once their shipmates sailed off and their water disappeared. Mathematically I'm sure the chances of them being rescued were vanishingly small--almost all of their shipmates would be dead and eaten by the time the remaining whaleboats bumped into civilization again, and the island that they were actually on was a different one than what everyone thought they were on. But civilization was bumped into and the captain of another boat cared enough to check one more place for them, and they made it out alive.

None of the guys left on the island were the guys that wrote books afterward so there's no way to know how it went, but I keep thinking about the feeling of going back to where the water was and waiting for the tide to get to the right spot and it just...never happening. I imagine you'd be haunted by a lot after a whale sinks your ship and you're lost at sea, but it seems to me that there must be moments that would stick more firmly than others, and by any reasonable standard--and my late night disaster planning--that would definitely be one of them.

Friday, July 19, 2019

For a while there it was like being a bundle of nerves in a petri dish, everyone just clustered around and watching to see what stimulus provoked a rainbow or a rat king or a neutron star. I know being performatively exposed is the way of things now, but it came to a place of feeling hollow and forced, a place where what was once a release was now a burden. I have never been much of a liar. And I was ok with having once been good at something that now seemed colorless and dry--sometimes wells go empty, and deserts are their own kind of beautiful. There are other ways to make sense of the world.

But we live in a world where the permafrost is thawing and you can find pretty much everything you've ever lost somewhere, and I guess a solid side effect of going hollow is that there's space for something to be again. Eventually. If it feels like it.

And then Mary Oliver died, and I couldn't stop thinking about the poem that is tattooed on my bones:

Instructions for living a life:
Pay attention.
Be astonished.
Tell about it.

Mary Oliver is always right, of course.

So you have been on my mind, is what I'm saying. Last night I had a dream that I was at a party and people all around me kept saying things that I wanted to tell you, referenced over and over articles that I wanted to read and torture and turn back around. In the dream I was filling my pockets with stories, greedy for them like when stone fruit finally comes into season after a long winter of potatoes.

For the moment, I guess the wind has changed.

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

The thing is...

The thing is that there are days where I scare myself with my own shadow and can't call it a metaphor, where I can feel something creeping up behind me and it turns out it's only myself. The thing is that our hands might be folded and still but our blood is still rushing around just underneath. The thing is that our blood is full of plants and animals and aliens and magic and we might never know until they've banded together and formed a resistance party and started to demand a way out. The thing is that I can feel a disaster hovering somewhere close, round and grumbling, and I don't know if it's coming this way or if it's only another asteroid that'll whistle past and pretend we weren't even here.

The fourth rule of fairytales is that there are stories stacked up in the underbrush that you don't see, and maybe that's just because they're not your stories. There are a lot of us, lost in these woods.