WETTER THAN WATER
Happy year of the Water Tiger! Over here it’s raining cats and dogs and the wind is whooping like a tramp on a fast train. I can’t see anything. It’s all wet and gray and the sun has stopped rising and setting too, but I’m back at anchorage. Floating here feels like heaven. Amen! Praise everything in this water jungle kingdom! It’s a bonafide blessing after more than a month on the dock. After two rebuilds of my transmission. After having to jump start the starter button with a flathead screwdriver at the tail end.
I’m ignoring the fact that my RPMs are sitting at 10,000 in neutral and that the engine sounds like a helicopter. I’m ignoring the fact that my quarter berth is turning into a swimming pool because rain leaks right down into it from the devil knows where. My batteries are beneath the quarter berth and they could drown with the rats if I don’t fix the leak. I’m ignoring the fact that only the lights on the starboard side of the boat work. These are new problems and I reckon it’s important to hang fire for a while, otherwise I’ll spend my whole life fixing a boat and it’ll make me downhearted and eventually my pretty little head fall off.
Be feminine. Be fluid. Even when the ocean is mighty. Even when the boat is sinking. Even when the Water Tiger is wetter than water.
Is water wet or is it merely a source of wetness? That is the question. It makes my mind spray to think about the answer.
I know what is wet. Me and Juniper. We are saturated with water. Sometimes Juniper‘s wetness makes me feel like I’m going crazy. Am I crazy? Like do you think that maybe somebody in Fiji has done some witchcraft on Juniper to make her this sinking wet? Really. I’m serious. I’m hearing more stories everyday about Fijian witches. The captain of the Malolo Cat V told me that he’s seen people fly in his village and rumor has it that this doctor on Malolo- the island right next to me- did somebody dirty and that somebody swore to the doctor that the doctor would be dead in a weeks time and in a weeks time the doctor was dead!
I’m over here burning sage. And saying my prayers. And ringing all the bells.
Even though I only moved Juniper three Nautical Miles, I’m wiped out. Moving her required peeling her out of her cyclone hole. The coconut lines needed removing. The three anchors needed weighing- and you should have seen the anchor chains after being in the water that long, barnacles growing all over and now my v-berth smells like all the dead things decaying on bottom of the ocean. And the jib needed to be put back on the furler, and honey pie I am out of shape because it took me an hour to hoist and furl the dang thang. Then I guzzled lemonade and motored under the draw bridge and did all sorts of dance moves along the way.
Juniper’s extended connection to land has gifted me with a zoo of friends; red-eyed geckos, crabs, ants, beetles, and I don’t know what else. Hopefully something with wings. Every time I turn my head new eyes are looking at me. I love it! If all else fails, Juniper will make a nice terrarium. I’ll fill her with plants and let the creatures roam.
I think something magical is happening between me and critters everywhere. I’ve been spending low tides underwater and the other day I was swimming around and I couldn’t see the bottom of the ocean and there were jellyfish, so I was wishing someone was with me, and right as I wished it a swarm of small bumblebee looking fish were in my face. They must have thought I was a hibiscus flower, or a piece of hot pink coral, or a big finless fish, because wherever I went, they went. I’d look down and they’d be swimming around my belly button. I’d put my hand out and they’d swim into my hand. I’d shake my hair and they’d swim around my head. I was covered in fish confetti!
My bumblebee fish confetti followed me back to Juniper and now they live beneath her. Every time I hop in the water, they’re there, in my face, ready to adventure.
MESSAGE IN A BOTTLE
You are walking down a beach in some paradise. There is a palm tree. You stop to have a picnic beneath it. Fish and mangoes and coconuts. There is the sound of waves splashing over sea smooth rocks. You love it. You love all of it. In the rush of the next wave a glass bottle rolls up on the beach next to you. There is a piece of paper inside. You open it. It says:
Dear Stranger, I hope I’m still alive by the time this message swims to you. My name is Buttercup. Please help me! I’m lost somewhere beneath the Southern Cross. I don’t know exactly how many times the sun has risen or not risen. I stopped counting after day 277. I can tell you that the yellow moon is new and the high tides are mountain high. And that the nights are aglow with that dark glitter of stardust that flashes faraway like a million minuscule neon rainbows in a realm of aliens. I can hear their echoes. Teasing me, taunting me, making me wish I could fly my seashell into the milk of the Milky Way just so they can’t see me no more.
There’s nowhere to hide out here. Not from the space echoes. It’s just a desert of endless salt and blue. And there are sodium jungle sea monsters and flocks of red-eyed geckos too. I can’t tell where the sky or sea ends and where I begin. Perhaps I don’t begin. Perhaps this is a daydream. I wish this was a daydream. If it is a daydream it is a thirsty daydream and I still need you to save me. Will you save me? You must save me. I mean do you even know what it’s like living with a bone dry mouth while surrounded by a body of water that you can‘t drink. Torture. Total torture. My body is a cactus. A skinny, wilting one without any fruit or flowers. By now, I’ve lost the shape of a woman and when you find me you’ll think I’m a mop-headed man or a wild cat. I know. I can see myself reflected in the ocean mirror; I’m so washed out, sunken, loon-eyed, and lonesome that my reflection makes myself fearful of myself.
But don’t be afraid to find me. Please find me. Please bring water, and an umbrella, and scissors with you when you come, and some bibimbop in a hot stone bowl with tofu and no egg, oh and some hot sauce too. Oh and perhaps bring a Catholic priest to conduct the exorcism of myself from myself. And some clothes because I’m naked and I don’t want priest to see the bits of my ladybits that are left androgynous-looking and flapping around out here in the wind. It might excite him too much.
Do you know how hard it is not to jellyfish into the ocean? The ocean is so bewitching, it makes me want to dive down deep. Like right now the water is a fat flat jewel, shimmering with a galaxy of silver suns that exalt my eyes in ecstasy. For this, this ever-evolving optical art of natural illusion, I love the ocean and the sun, and I also love the way the sun spills salmon pink onto the clouds as it sinks. But I fear the sun too. Without the sun I will die and with too much sun I will die too. The sun is a hot lava death, this is for certain. Every inch of my cactus is lobster-red and open-sored and peeling. Sunburnt. Sun-blistered. Sun-damaged. Which makes me sun-shy and more thirsty.
I’m thirsty enough to drink saltwater but not crazy enough to drink it. My lover, Topper Thomas, got dog desperate and drank the saltwater and he went boogie man batshit because of it. Started talking to the ghost of Christopher Columbus about the thirteenth dimension of space existing in the tail of a sea snake. Looney tunes I tell you. He looked at me one day and said he was going to unearth Blackbeard’s treasures. I tried to stop him, I did, but he bit my hand then dove out of our lemon-colored life raft, head first into the drink. The sharks went gaga for him. Absolutely ape. It was a thrashing of blood and skin and teeth and bones. That happened many moons ago and when it did there wasn’t enough water left in my cactus to cry over it, but lord I do miss turtledoving.
Please find me before the pirates do!
I don’t know how you’ll ever find me, nobody else has. Sixteen planes, two flying saucers, and one hot air balloon have flown over me. Plus eight cargo ships have passed me by. I’ve fired off a flare each time, but nobody sees me. Am I even alive? Please find me and tell me if I am alive or not. All the flares are gone now. All the food is gone. All the water is gone. And I cross my heart and hope to die, that earth’s water has stopped evaporating into the sky and no rain is falling for evermore.
I’m a vegetarian out here living off of sea turtles and sea fish. I’m drinking seabird blood instead of Adam’s ale. I’m bopping sharks on the head with my pony fist, so they won’t flip my paper-thin raft over and bite it to dust. This is my existence in this abyss. Adrift. Help! Tell everybody. Tell them I sailed out of Tonga in the year of the Fire Tiger. I was aboard a coconut hailing from Mexico and heading for Papua New Guinea. I got swept away in a rogue black wave with a sea glass-green translucent crest that was the size of Asia. When it happened, it sounded like a herd of elephants being attacked by a swarm of bumblebees inside of a machine. I remember black and blue and flashes of red and wet. I remember climbing into this life raft and gasping and air rushing into my lungs like honey wet dew.
I could go on forever but I’m running out of paper and this is the end of the ink. I’m intoxicated on wilderness and sun-poisoned and breathless. Please find me. Please. Pretty please please.
Buttercup (A gal who is stuck to the sea like a barnacle)