It’s been a while. Life got wild and is getting wilder, since last we spoke. I’ve been bouncing across the earth like a red rubber ball, from Fiji to Ireland to Montana. And if you were observing me, you would feel as if you were observing a tennis match. Anyway, my body is very confused and time is an envelope lingering in a zone loose beyond me. All I can tell you for certain is that the sun is somewhere over Africa.
I am sitting beside a river in Montana just south of Big Sky. A hundred Appaloosa horses run wild behind me, some of them patterned like cows, and just beyond them is Yellowstone.
The earth bubbles with big country; sage bushes, cowboy hats, leather chaps, purple wildflowers, evergreens, boots, hunters, bears in a caves hoarding honey, blue skies, trout fish, aspen pines, dust, and woodland promises. Perfumed earth, of mountain, of meadow, of mountain. The air in this wilderness is turning sharp towards winter. At night I sleep in a wooden cabin next to a wood fire.
I’m out here filming a dude ranch for work. I’ve learned all about the birds and the bees of a ranch, where love is organized. How most colts are castrated, how it makes them milder and more tameable. I wonder if their whole life is charged by some primal burning that they they’ll never have the pleasure of watering?
Not long ago, one stallion was raised for the sole purpose of procreating with all the mares in the herd. At the age of two, with reins around his neck, the stallion was lead into a pasture towards a mare with reins around her neck. The handlers said the energy was high, that it took a while, but the stallion eventually figured out what to do. As soon as the deed was done, the horse’s heart exploded, and his eyes rolled back into his head and then he dropped dead to the earth, just like a male bumblebee does. These are the facts of life on a dude ranch.
36 hours before Montana I was in Ireland.
I am here in search of four leaf clovers and bagpipe serenaded legends. Really, not really. If you haven’t already pieced it together, I’m dating Diarm because he’s full of luck, and I reckoned if we can survive a 55 knot squall we might be able to survive anything. Plus he loves my sailboat as much as I do, and I never even knew that was possible. But he will never love me more than the wind, for which he has an intense obsession, and that’s ok.
The English of Ireland is strange and I struggle to understand it. An awful lot of people are wearing grass green outfits, as if it were the new black. Garth Brooks is in town and all of Dublin has gone country- the entire city is wearing cowboy hats and getting ready to honky tonk.
I’m staying with Diarm’s family outside the city in a village by the sea. They tell me that if a place has a pub and a church then it’s a village. I meet one of his grandmothers, she used to grow tomatoes in glass houses. She has just woken up and is sitting on the edge of her pink blanketed bed, putting on her nude stockings. On her night stand is a racy looking book called “Prom Night.” She is two years older than the Queen Mother who is recently dead and on every magazine cover. She calls Diarm “My pet.” May I never in my life forget this one moment. I don’t know why it’s so special. It just is.
The city and family is a whirlwind, one and a half days. Now it’s 4 AM and we’re driving to an island on the west coast of Ireland called Achill. It’s so dark out I can’t see anything. We are pulling a trailer behind us filled with toys; kitesurfing and paragliding gear.
The day has turned on, it’s grey and sunless, but full of wind. We just crossed over onto the island. It’s a moonscape. Rev me up and rock me out. Ragglerocked sheep are everywhere and they’re all spray painted in neon, like punks, to brand them. When I baaaa at them out the window, they stop and stare at me.
I see green mountains, a bog-filled bronze lake, black slugs lounging on every stone, fish blood and bone, black field, a graphite colored sea waving at me. There aren’t many trees, so the land is excavated in long lines to gather pete bog which is used like firewood. And it’s so safe here that everybody leaves their keys in the ignition.
Diarm helped start a kite boarding school and hotel here called Pure Magic. We pull up to it and pile our life into his grey-blue colored van that’s parked outside. This is to be our home in Ireland. The van is similar to the boat, but smaller and narrower and I can’t stand up straight in it. The bed and the kitchen and the toilet all collide together in one corner. Excuse my language, but in the van we shit where we eat.
It’s my first day out here and I am convinced that Diarm is trying to kill me. First he has me driving on the wrong side of the road. And there are sheep all up in the way and tractors and joggers, and I keep almost driving into the ditch. Every time we pass someone I feel obliged to stick my head out the window and say, “Excuse me, I’m American.” And they say something back with an Irish twist and I can’t for the life of me tell you what it means.
Diarm takes me to the beach and teaches me how to fly a paraglider. It’s a beautiful yellow glider and hard to launch. Once it’s in the air it drags me backwards like it’s a massive magnet and I’m made of metal. But I figure out it’s groove. Twenty minutes later he drives me to a cliff top. Up there I see a bunch of white rocks in the shape of a big cross surrounded by a circle. I say “What’s that?”
He throws a helmet on my head and says, “A mass gravesite of unbaptized babies that the church wouldn’t allow proper burials for.”
I’m all, “What?! Get me away from here!”
And he’s all, “Don’t worry about that, now launch the paraglider and just run off that cliff.”
The wind is light; birds are flapping their wings in the sky and the blades of grass at my feet aren’t moving. The ground is uneven, the cliff jagged. The ocean rumbles like distant thunder over a shore made of sea smooth rocks. I look at Diarm’s face, half of it has been Frankensteined back together due to extreme sporting accidents, because he’s an adrenaline junkie.
I say, “What’s the worst that can happen?”
He says, “You could break both legs.”
My head gets all twirled up thinking about my future broken legs and I can’t even get the glider to launch. Next thing I know Diarm is behind me launching the glider and guiding me off the cliff. I’m a bird, and I love the soaring floating feeling! Is this what a star feels like as it falls to earth? Will Diarm still love me when I’m legless? If I’m legless will it make me go out of my tree? Am I going to land on top of that sheep? The flight is short, and I want more. So I climb back up the hill and do it again.
After that Diarm has me put on a wetsuit and booties as thick as seal skin. I crawl into a frigid copper-colored lake for a kiteboarding lesson. I don’t expect much to happen, because so far all I’ve been able to do is the kite part of kiteboarding, but lord you wouldn’t believe that after a few tries I stand up on the board and ride it across the damn near entire length of the lake.
A day later I’m on a flight to Montana, but five days before that I was in Fiji.
The only slip available for Juniper is wedged in between super yacht monstrosities. Masts as tall as skyscrapers, dinghies bigger than Juniper, submarines and helicopters decorating their decks. As I’m pulling in, I’m praying that I won’t hit all the beautiful beast because lord knows I couldn’t even pay for it. After I dock, I have three days to get ready to leave Fiji and life is a tornado.
I pull my mattresses on deck and spray them down with tea tree oil and sunlight because I’m quite certain I have a bed bug infestation. And even more certain that my mere presence on the super yacht end of the dock, with my bed bug mattresses on deck, is devaluing all the boats around me.
I clean the tool cabinet with Diarm and he points out that I value the aesthetical over the practical and that I might be a hoarder, but honestly you just never know when you might need something, especially if it’s beautiful!
We degrease my engine and pump my bilge and I’m convinced that I loose eight years of my life in the process, the fumes of it all are thick and chemical and toxic. We strip all the sails off in case a cyclone comes while we’re gone. We empty the fridge. We oil my wood. We cover the hatches with tarps. We deflate Joffrey the flamingo. When I say we, I mean mostly Diarm because I’m working full time and he’s better and faster at all that boat stuff anyway.
We spend a night watching the dance of an octopus god. Then I pack one small carry on bag full of clothes. And he packs three massive check in bags full of kites and gliders and no clothes. We leave. It takes 36 hours to get to Dublin. He says, “Don’t worry if the plane starts to go down, I’ll grab my parachutes out of the luggage compartment and we’ll strap them on and jump out.”
Anyway that’s enough of my story for now because I’ve been up since 3 AM and it’s nearly 9 PM and I feel like a sloth. I must go, if I burn too bright and too long, I will burn out. Good night. Sweet dreams.
P.S. – I seemed to have caused some concern over my Blue Without You post, but it’s ok to feel sad in paradise, especially over a loss. Some communities on earth spend an entire week lamenting a death- wailing like sea lions. It’s an emotion that must be released and I suppose part of my releasing is in sharing my true feelings with you. Anyway, it came. It went. It’s gone. Oh also I forgot to tell you that the boat with the bad spray paint job, the one that likes to anchor real close and is named something like “War Pig,” they’re all nudist. The whole lot of them, and I think that’s why they like to anchor on top of me. They want to be peeped, seen, remembered in all their naked glory.