I find out what happened to Juniper after rowing to see some boat neighbors.
I ask, “Did the bridle snap and the chain let itself out?” No, but what did happen, happened only ten minutes after I rowed to town. A big gust came. They think 30 knots. Everything was blowing into the water. Two boats dragged across the soft mud, mine was one of them. The one that didn’t stop.
A Dutch sailor and a British sailor see Juniper soaring towards shore and dinghy over to rescue her. One is a marine diesel mechanic and when he goes to start the engine, he breaks the starter button because he doesn’t hold down the glow. Nobody understands the importance of my glow. My glow is vital, without it my engine won’t run and there are breakdowns. Figuratively and literally.
Without the engine, the sailors resort to letting out more rode to get my anchor to dig in again. They tell me that my bridle is still onboard somewhere. It takes me forever to find it, because it’s grey and camouflaged on top of my deflated grey dinghy.
I bring presents to the sailors and the fisherman. I tell them that I feel like a foolish fool. The wife of one says, “Darling don’t, anyone who tells you that they’ve never dragged is either a liar or a sailor who doesn’t really sail.” I say, “Yea? Ok, so it’s like the people who tell me they’ve never had to repair anything onboard?” She says, “Precisely.”
Tam dives Juniper searching for my yellow dinghy seat. He finds a banana peel, some fishing line, and a vertebrae that looks like a broken angel. He says the mud is so soft beneath Juniper that he can stick his entire arm into it, perhaps his whole body, without resistance.
Afterwards, he and the girl with changing eyes have an explosive fight in front of me. She thinks that he doesn’t love her anymore. They’ve been together a month, and live together, and fight like cats and dogs.
To dispel the atmosphere, I give them an hour of therapy, as if I’m some expert on the matter. But that makes no difference, I’ve failed enough in love to know what not to do, and I understand physics, and I understand the ocean, and all of this is enough to understand the issue between them.
It boils down to him loving her, but not wanting to be the only thing that she loves in life, it’s too much pressure. The catalyst of their woes can be explained by Newton’s third law; for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. She is pulling, he is pushing. Anybody pulled hard, will push away just as hard and should it continue like this, the bond between can snap, pop, bang- like a rubber band.
Space is necessary. I tell her that he can’t be the center of her world. She must go out with friends, spend time alone, immerse herself in a new hobby. I say that the tides of love must move like the ocean moves towards the shore, in waves that ebb and flow. I say that we must step into love, in the same way that we step into the ocean. We mustn’t rush into a new ocean. We have to enter it slowly. We have to know first, if the water is hot or cold. We have to be certain that there is nothing hidden beneath the water that might hurt us. We have to be certain that there is nothing hidden beneath the water that we might hurt.
What I say, somehow works. No fights have been fought since.
I’m still thinking about the Heiva dances. The sensual nature. The complicated choreography. The elaborate costumes that reveal more skin than they conceal. I’m still thinking about how I could never shake my hips as rapidly as the women do, but I could knock my knees the way that the men do. I’m still thinking about the sexual harassment that I endured the morning after.
And I feel sticky when I think about that golden brown truck or trees or seeds or trombones. Listen, I’m not as naive as I look. I’ve read Bukowski, so I know how some men think. And for a long while, after reading his novels, I put my hands over my exposed body parts as I passed males of any age above puberty.
But, I’m also wondering about the act itself. The history of it. The evolution of it. I’m wondering when humans shifted into perceiving another person masturbating in front of them as sexual harassment. Apes do it, iguanas do it, ancient Egyptians publicly did it into the Nile River as part of a creative magical act. Is it in our primal nature to do such acts? Is the animal in some of us raging for that? Have societies repressed these acts over centuries of religious-fueled rule? Should we have the freedom to do what we feel?
I don’t know. I just know that it felt wrong because I was trapped in the truck and it was unprovoked. Like if I was an ancient Egyptian, and didn’t want to see that, I could just avoid the Nile.
I also know that as a kid I always ripped my clothes off because I much preferred to be naked, and now I’m afraid to be seen unclothed. I’m a prune, perhaps by nature, perhaps by religion, perhaps by being American, perhaps because I’m insecure, perhaps because I’m creative and creativity and pleasure flow from the same bodily space. I have no idea, but I’m questioning everything since I stepped into that golden brown truck. What is right and what is wrong and when did it become wrong and why?
I know that I’m not alone. A lot of women have come forward saying this has happened to them in French Polynesia and beyond; while hiking, biking, or jogging. That men often jump out of the bushes or just turn around, drop their pants, and start doing it. I also heard that there is a Polynesian tradition, where if a man sees a woman he likes and feels it’s reciprocated, he greases up his body in oil at night, sneaks into the woman’s house, and climbs on top of her. The oil is for a fast escape in case it’s unwanted. It happened to a foreign woman not to long ago here. And I’m just lucky this didn’t happen aboard Juniper.
Anyway, the sun will always set then rise and there will be rain, but then rainbows.
I set sail, away from Mo’orea, not long before sunset. I’m heading on a reach towards Huahine, the wild one with mountains that make the shape of a pregnant woman laying down. Hua means “sex” and hine means “woman.” Some say Huahine translates to “Sex of the Woman,” or “Pregnant Woman.” In 1000 AD, Sex of the Woman Island was run by The Flying Lizard Dynasty. I’m not making any of this up.
The breeze is gentle, the moon is a wink, and the night is made of silver flowers. One of them is blinking at me. It is neither plane nor satellite, for it moves erratic, like a distant firefly.
Something in the rig is whistling. I hear “Securite, securite, securite” on the VHF. I have no idea what they say after that. It’s all French to me.
I sleep in the cockpit, with my alarm rising me every twenty minutes to search for passing ships and to check my heading. It’s past midnight. I see a ship off of port. I pull it up on my AIS to gather it’s speed and heading, but as I’m looking at the chart-plotter, it disappears from the screen. I look up, the ship is still there. I turn my head. I look back. The ship vanishes. Where did it go? The sea ate it.
My wax is melting down, my flame is a faint flicker.
I arrive before noon to the pass of the main village in Huahine, Fare. I drop my hook on the outskirts. I’m close to the channel markers and close to a catamaran belonging to my friends, the Beadles, of Green Coco Charters.