Sometimes I wish I was a starfish, life would be a lot easier without a brain or a heart. Just lying there, clinging to coral, and stoned on the sea. And if you were a shark or a manta ray or an Alaskan king crab, you could eat one of my limbs and it wouldn’t matter, because without a brain I would not register as much pain. And as soon as you swam away with my limb hanging from your lips, I would start to regrow a new one, because I am made of stardust and magic.
Speaking of stardust. I wanted to tell you the truth. The truth is that we were all made of stardust. So are the seas and the jungles and the plants and the tigers and the mountains and the snakes and the flowers and the fish and the bees. The base of every living thing can be broken down to a carbon molecular chain, so our roots are all the same. And those roots bloomed out of the heart of some far away sun that once swam in space. I try to remember this when I get down on myself. I try to remember that me and everything I know- that pulses and breathes and swims and grows and flies and beats and blows and dreams and bends and bleeds- are all cosmic treasures.
I got really down this past weekend, because I made a big, fat, mistake! It was Memorial Day weekend and we were having a party at “The Bite,” just off of Diamond Head. Me and six or so other boats. The other boats were packed with bodies, I was out there anchored alone. That way I could float back to Juniper and escape the chaos whenever I needed. I need a lot of alone time, so I can regrow my starfish limbs. That kind of work requires a lot of focus.
Anyway, I blew up my dinghy, Daisy, and popped the outboard on her. And I was just zipping from boat to boat having a ball. Then, just before sunset, I get a call from Captain Casanova. Surprise, surprise, it was just him and 10 women on his boat- what a ratio- and two members of his holiday harem wanted a ride back to shore.
My buddy, Sava, said there was a dock that we could drop them at, so I agreed.
We go pick these chicks up and they have piles of stuff with them- leather purses, phones, chips, lipstick, a bottle of rum- and no dry bags! The sun was dropping fast and I was running Daisy hot.
The damn dock Sava was talking about was 3 NM away, halfway back to the Ala Wai! And during the ride the girls fess up that they ate mushrooms. So there I am charging towards the dock with these chicks and their hallucinations. And we are almost there, I can see the channel markers, and I start cutting in towards shore. But I cut too close inside the break and next thing I know a white cap is coming straight towards us! My gut says turn left towards the shore and surf it, Sava yells “turn right!” So I zig and zag and splash! We flip, we tumble, my body falls freely as I am thrown inside the surf. We are all wet now. Capsized in the current. Trapped between the sea and the shore.
Everyone surfaces, safely. Crap is floating everywhere. I see one of my oars drifting away and quickly swim to grab it. Sava, is holding onto the dinghy. I can’t find the other oar. The gals from the harem are screaming and wigging out. I feel only slightly sorry for the loss of their makeup. One keeps saying “What do we do, what do we do? Call the coast guard, call the coast gaurd!” The other is screaming, “My phone, I lost my phone.” I am thinking, at least you are still breathing woman, who cares about your freaking phone! I look at them and say in the sweetest most soothing voice that I can muster, “We are fine, the shore is right there. Sava and I know what to do, just hold onto your stuff and keep calm.”
My outboard is hanging on by one bracket mount and it is flooded with saltwater and Daisy now weighs a ton. Sava and I can’t get her to right. We try and try and try. I see another white cap coming. I turn Daisy horizontal to the wave and count to three. Then, me and Sava and that wave get Daisy to flip over as if she was made of smoke. We all pile back into her. A surfer paddles by and I ask him to hunt for the other oar.
Meanwhile, the one chick is still screaming for her phone. It’s gone babes, drunk on seawater, and sunken.
The surfer comes back in a flash with the oar, I ask him if he can help paddle the gals to shore. They don’t want to go. They are worried about their stuff getting wet. Their stuff is already freaking wet, but not a single drop of blood has escaped their veins! What the hell are they worried about?!
Sava and I have to get Dasiy past the break while there is a lull in the sets. I say sternly to the chicks, “You can either go in with this surfer, or stay on Daisy and go back to anchorage with us. Whatever you choose to do, choose it now, because we have got to get out of here!”
One hops off immediately. The other looks at me and says, “I don’t want to swim to shore, but I have to work tomorrow and I can’t go back to anchorage.” I say, “Those are the only options babes!” I practically have to push her off of Daisy in the end.
Sava starts paddling Daisy past the break as soon as the girl hits the water. We paddle and paddle and paddle and keep paddling. For a long time. Maybe an hour. There is one part of me that is scolding myself. She is saying “You idiot, you knew the risk and you took it anyway, because you wanted to be nice! It’s better to be safe than nice” Then there is another part of me that is loving the adventure of it all. She is saying, “Yea girl, keep taking risks, that was so fun! Let’s try something wild again tomorrow!”
This is the constant tug of war that goes on inside of me. As if I am split straight down the middle by one woman who wants to follow the rules and sing the same damn song all day long, and another woman who wants to ride the wind whichever way it’s going, even if it’s gonna glide her straight off a cliff.
I say to Sava, “I’m a freaking fool, but wasn’t that exciting?” He says, “I guess you could call it that.” Then goes on to say, “What just happened is so normal for us, it’s almost like going to Starbucks to grab a cup of coffee, but for those girls it’s the kind of story they are going to tell their children and their children’s children.” I picture the girls in rocking chairs, sewing waterproof jackets for their cell phones and telling the little ones about that one time they almost drowned way out in the middle of the ocean, over 1,000 nautical miles from shore, and how some brave surfer saved their lives.”
After that Sava told me an almost-love story that takes place in Russia when he was a teenager. It involves him, a 30 ft. sailboat without an engine, and a pretty young thang. To impress her he’d attempt to row the sailboat to and fro the slip. But have you ever tried to row a sailboat that size? Next to impossible! Oh the impossible things love makes us do.
We make it back to Juniper. Sava tells everyone it was a rogue wave that got us. He says, if I tell any other story I’d make a liar out of him. But that wave wasn’t rogue, I was.
Then we play a crazy Russian card game with a few friends. The game is so complicated, nobody else could figure out rules, even after 10 rounds. So we stop and I row them back to their boat.
As I row, the Southern Cross teases me from its jewel box in the sky. It’s so beautiful. I know if I follow it, it will take me straight to Tahiti. I want to follow it. I want to follow it right now, and not look back. Such temptation.
Resting in front of the cross, one of the other boats is all lit up like a disco club. Colored lights, flashing! And it’s blasting really bad techno music. They are all on mushrooms, all of them. Perhaps more than that. I row over, say hello and goodnight. They hug me with eyes lost in a hazy dream.
The next morning, I wake up, take the carburetor out of the outboard and pump fresh water and Wd40 all up in it. Then I surf right in front of Waikiki.
I spend the rest of the day sulking alone on Juniper while people party around me. I am bummed about the decision I made the night before, bummed that the outboard might not work again, bummed that I had ripped the outboard mount off Daisy, and bummed that even though I had friends to help me here and there, sometimes I feel really alone. And I can’t help but wonder if there is another person out there with the same dream as me. But not just a dreamer, a dream-catcher. Otherwise I’d get so bored just sitting around dreaming about what we might do one day. This day, right here, is the day, and only day, to do whatever it is we dream to do.
I roll around in the muck and the mire of my mind for a long time. And the two women inside of me were all twisted together. The lover of rules is going, “Let’s just sell the boat and get a white picket fence and live like everybody else does!” The lover of wind is going, “Who cares about what all these other schmucks are doing with their lives and don’t you ever dare trade your blue picket fence for a white one!”
I lay down with prisms dancing all over my face. I close my eyes. I meditate. A voice screams inside my head, “Change your mind about the situation and the situation will change.” I see images of things I admire, like the rainbows the sun sprays across backside of waves. Then I see everything in nature that is luminous- the iridescence of an abalone shell, the bioluminescence of a jellyfish, the incandescence of the sun.
I think about the white owl that flew above me a few nights before. I think about the fish I saw glowing in the surf beneath the owl. The fish was intermittently pulsating in strong flashes of light. Some fish, like the fanfish seadevil, glow to attract prey, others glow to distract prey, others glow to attract mates. I don’t know what the glowing fish was glowing for and if it was a deep-sea fish, it was most certainly lost. That fish reminded me to glow, even when I get lost. It reminded me that I can- that we all can- because we come from stardust.
These thoughts are like embers floating in the wind and setting my dark forest ablaze with light. Now I am glowing. Glow, glow, glow. I am the stars in the sky and the salt in the sea.
I open my eyes, lift my anchor, and sail straight towards the sunset. Nice and slow. Jib only. With 8 knots of breeze behind me. Holding the helm from my hammock and watching the sun sink.