*A Sailboat Haunting Told in Multiple Splashes*
PART I – Roses & Aliens
“How readily our thoughts swarm upon a new object, lifting it a little way, as ants carry a blade of straw so feverishly, and then leave it.” -Virginia Woolf, The Mark on the Wall
When I first bought Juniper, strange things started happening. Terrible things. Things not of this earth. Things that I can only surmise fell from the sky, or jumped out of the sea, or formulated in mid-air. Everything was loose, reality unwinding. I rattled beneath tangerine moonbeams and swam in a fire of frost as the unknown became known.
At first, I didn’t know what it was, but I knew that it was not a dream. Dreams don’t stain, not like that. Dreams only spill onto you a soft metallic liquid, like the liquid found in a chrysalis. That liquid that was once a caterpillar crawling on six legs and is, at this very moment, shaping into a butterfly with wings and fresh organs and antennae. Metamorphosis. That’s more magic than magic.
When I was little I wished to be an insect. All they do is eat and love and exist. I also liked the fact that they can camouflage their bodies until they dissolve from the rest of the world. When people would ask me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I would say, “An ant or a grasshopper or a dragonfly.” I could have cared less about becoming an astronaut.
It’s not that I don’t like the moon, I love the moon and I love to love the moon from afar. And the man on the moon is the only person in this whole wild world that I can trust with all my heart. With other people, I can’t tell if their truth is the truth, and I guess the truth lies somewhere between their actions and their words, but life is short and I don’t want to spend my time deciphering all that. I also figured that if God put me at this position on the space-time continuum, this position that is 30 earths away from the pearl essence of the moon and its oceans of light, then I’m not meant to go rocketing into space just so I can bounce all around that beautiful man’s face.
Besides, sex in space is complex due to Newton’s third law and microgravity. One must imagine bodies bumping then flying opposite directions and smashing into the walls of the spacecraft. One must imagine everything hot and everything wet and balls of semen and sweat floating all around, like foam floating upon the surface of the sea. One must imagine slow pumping hearts holding on tight.
In space there is also the issue of claustrophobia. I have been claustrophobic ever since I was four and that teenager shut me in a closet for over five hours. All alone. No lights, just me and the nothing and a ragged desire to escape it. A part of me is still stuck in that closet, languid on a wire hanger with a pool of me puddled beneath it.
That’s more what it felt like, that inexplicable thing that was not a dream…hanging. Suspended by force. Hogtied in limbo- that eternal in-between where nobody feels a lick of the good or the evil. A world of ho-hum. And how I got there was through sleep, followed by a thud, followed by my mind rising to the surface yet stuck in the sloth of sleep, followed by thug-like voices, followed by the same series of jittery vibrating movements that bodies do in every alien-abduction movie.
Aliens… it sounds odd, but I did consider that the dream that was not a dream, could have been caused by aliens. The experience was so foreign, so out there. Plus, I often have the sensation that I am an alien inside of another alien that is inside of a human longing to be an alien, but that still doesn’t make me want to be an astronaut. Life on earth is extraterrestrial enough.
I reasoned that the dream that was not a dream could not have been caused by aliens- flying saucers and UFOs and whatnot, I would have remembered that.
I heard on the radio, somewhere in New Mexico, that UFO watching is a new favorite pastime among Americans since COVID. Why do you think that is? Why not flower watching or hummingbird watching or water watching. I think it’s because people need the comfort of believing that life exists somewhere beyond this atmosphere, that just across that Karman line- at every edge of space- there are breathing beings and when we have exploded life in this world we can go live with them in that one.
Lots of indigenous communities believe that our ancestors are star people. Imagine that, we all came from sparkling suns and to the sparkling suns we will return. Sometimes I wonder if all our ancestors fell to earth to help it sparkle. Or perhaps it’s just the opposite, maybe our ancestors are space outlaws who fell to earth for doing something criminal. Anyway, how do star people have sex? The celestial ceremony is probably telepathic- long, deep gazes into sparkling star-filled eyes.
The dream that was not a dream, had nothing to do with aliens, and was somehow connected to my new home, Juniper.
The other day a man in Arkansas asked me where my home is. I said, “My home is on the sea.” The man responded, “Do you know how stupid that sounds? It’s like saying me saying, my home is the sky.” Then I stuck my tongue out. He asked, “Why did you cross the ocean, I mean it’s not like there is anything new to discover?” I lied and said, “To watch Venus transit the sun.” That’s not why I did it, that’s why Captain Cook did it, but this man doesn’t know me from Eve or Eve from Adam or Adam from Captain Cook, so who the hell cares what I said. I left that conversation wondering why a person can’t just do something out of a pure desire? Why can’t a person do something because they like it, because it feels good, because life is more delicious when they do? And must an adventure always be accompanied by some external discovery, or can’t self-discovery suffice?
Nothing was certain in my mind for a long time, except the fact that the dream was not a dream. Many moments pass me by in life and all I want is to devour them and digest until I become them, but I can’t because they are already gone and all they leave me with is desire. A desire to know more than I know. Is a moment a moment if I don’t really know what happened in that moment? Like can I even call it a moment? And what is to be said of “a moment,” if it leaves me more adrift as it passes me by?
The dream that was not a dream, nor an alien abduction, left me wanting rosewater. Wanting to splash that elixir all across the boat, the way that priestesses of the occult do. It’s probably a bunch of “snake oil” mumbo jumbo, but I read that roses have a frequency of 320 MHz, which is the highest frequency of any tangible object, and to be among roses is to be among angels. And that’s what I wanted, angels, to fill all my empty spaces. I think that empty spaces become a faucet for the dead. And after years of fog and analysis I reckon that’s what happened that night. I think that due to all my empty spaces, I became the center of a game played by ghosts- my spirit was tossed and dribbled and kicked, like a ball.
The thought of ghosts reminds me of puffer fish. The tetrodotoxin inside of that fish makes people feel all tingly and euphoric but too much of it can make them appear dead according to all vital signs. They go into a deep state of something separate from the living- like ghosts. That’s because the toxin blocks sodium ions from entering the neurons so action potential ceases, causing one to become catatonic minus the confusion. It’s totally dreadful sounding. Can you imagine being coherent as you were pronounced dead?
Still I long to eat a puffer fish, at least once. In fact, I want to eat a puffer fish with the same intensity that I want to open the object that says “do not open.” To write “do not open” upon anything, ensures that someone will inevitably open it. Do not open. Do not eat. I will open. I will eat. Maybe I will eat a puffer fish in Japan, where if I “die” after eating it, they will lay my body next to my grave for three days before burying me, just in case I’m still breathing.
I imagine that eating one would feel like hugging the tiger. Like riding a thunderhead into a land of burning suns. Like licking a rainbow straight out of the sky then mounting a dolphin and steering it into nirvana. After eating the puffer fish, I would write a love letter to somebody and it would say, “The thought of you just floated through my mind and it felt like what eating a puffer fish feels like.” Maybe I will send that letter to the man on the moon.
Am I morbid? I suppose it is impossible to think about life without thinking about death. What is anything without the duality of it’s opposite? Nothing. Could I love the desert without the sea? And if I had never felt the naked rock, could I fully appreciate the softness of moss?
Did you know that if you want moss to grow, you just put some in a blender with buttermilk then spread it around on the ground? It’s all to do with the acidity. Acids and bases. Change the pH of soil and you can change the color of a hydrangea flower too- which do you prefer? Pink or blue?
If the pH of the human body goes below 6.8 or above 7.8, we will change colors too, then die. So, what is the pH of a ghost? And what happened to my body’s pH on the night of the dream that was not a dream? Did it drop or rise and did I drift into the afterlife?
After life, there must be life. Even if it moves in the form of mist and vapor and flashes of washed out hues. Pale stains, indistinguishable from air- faded purple, faded blue – like water rising into the wind. Rising with a drizzled flow. A smeared reality where flux is king.
But you know what you cannot taste there, in the afterlife? Life! That’s why there has always been a thorn of jealousy between the living and the dead. And I suppose all any ghost really wants, is the warmth of a heart to call home.
That dream that was not a dream, was most certainly my first encounter with ghosts.