TURKEY – feels like a century ago. After five solo flights, three tandem flights, and a quiz on lenticular clouds in the troposphere, I get a license to fly under supervision. I take one last tandem flight before heading to the airport. The air is white with fog, but I can see the compass rose painted on the ground beneath me as we take off. I am strapped onto the front of a man who likes to fly across sand on a dune buggy with a kite in his hand. I try not to think about the fact that I could fall. If I go, then I go, then I’m gone.
Diarm and all of his classmates are in the sky with us. Our destination is Butterfly Beach, a strip of salt crystals that can only be reached by boat or foot or paraglider. My pilot spins me around in helicopter circles and flips me upside down wing over wing. The sea is the sky and I feel the G force from my feet to my heart. I don’t like it, but I do like it.
When we land on the beach we almost take down a few sunbathers and half of our wing gets stuck in a tree. I watch as Diarm and his mates fall out of the sky like colored raindrops. The beach is throbbing with half-naked bodies and tents. We drink beers and eat fried food, then take a boat back. The captain is loose and lets his dock lines flap in the water, but they’re just short enough not to kiss the prop.
As I rush out of Turkey I realize that not once did I swim in it’s sea, for it did not call to me the way the sky did. In hindsight I should have gotten in. A body does not arrive to a place until one’s head has dipped beneath a surface of water.
IRELAND- again. After one short night in an airport pod, where my dreams dog my head, Diarm and I are back. I’ve got a bottom like a lead flamingo and love in my gut. The seasons are changing. The cold air is an old friend that I have not felt for a long time. The wind moans and pushes me along the street like a doll in a tornado. We have to demolish Diarm’s baby blue van- it doesn’t pass inspection. The scrap yard squishes it like a metal June bug. It goes and it’s gone. I could take or leave the van and feel nothing for it’s demise, but Diarm feels it like a bad ache in the back. To forget about the hard facts of life we see a haunted play called Lost Hearts that’s based on a story by M. R. James. I adore it. I need art as much as I need salt. What is life without art, without salt? Cold and colorless. Without either, how would you know the depth of me, the unpeeling of me, or I you?
ARKANSAS- My mom is telling us about the weather last week. She says, “It was just booming, booming, booming and lighting, lightning, lightning.” I like how she talks. People in Arkansas know how to talk and when they talk you feel things. Like a poem. I don’t talk like I’m from Arkansas anymore. When people meet me they ask if I’m from Europe, perhaps France. Where did my twang go?
I take Diarm to my favorite swamp river. It’s past a meadow, that’s inside a neighborhood, that’s outside the city. There are kayaks stashed deep in the woods for anybody to use. We launch one and paddle among the lily pads and cypress trees and turtles. We find a floating platform for people to camp on. I wish I had more time… to float.
Now we are at the state fair, because it’s so very American to do such a thing. Cotton candy, Turkey legs, and corn dogs. We feed pellets to a zebra donkey. We watch beauty pageant contestants in prom dresses talk about how great their county is because Johnny Cash is from there and they have ducks for hunting. We stare at catfish in a tank. We get saved by an old preacher man, he tells me there are three things Jesus can’t do, “he can’t lie, he can’t change the past…” and I forget the third… ? The preacher says all I need is some holy water for my born-again baptism. The sun turns off, the night turns on. Lights. Flash, flash, flash. We ride the pirate ship, the mouse trap, the gravitron. This is amusement.
I take pictures of me and my dad, for when we get old and can’t remember each other’s faces or the shapes of our fingers. Diarm flies back to Fiji. I fly to New York for work.
I’m directing an online series across America with a Korean pixie cinematographer, her Polish Assistant, and a dog-loving sound operator. We’re on the road for 16 days. I fly. Sleep. Interview someone. Sleep. Fly to the next state. The cycle begins again. I work to sail. This is the kaleidoscope of my life, moving between worlds like translucent shapes moving between mirrors. What follows are small glimpses from each state told in geometric form….
NEW YORK- Neon. Bodega’s selling Captain Crunch cereal and bongs. Joints on every corner. Russian Turkish bathing- salt and mud. Magic jewelry- an aura yellow like a submarine. I have memories of electric-blue high-heeled nights and the doctor and the sex shop he lived above, but I don’t recognize this city anymore. This is not the city I used to live in. This is a new city. A stoned out city. A lady whispers, “Your a boss and a sponge for other peoples energy. You must protect myself or else you’ll get soggy in a place like this.” This is the beauty and the curse of me.
CHICAGO- An apothecary and a bag full of tinctures. My sister, Melanie- she loves pinball and baseball and heavy metal music. An old friend, Cooper, from Bitchin Bajas who once named his kitten after me. Gabe, who used to leave VHS tapes in my mailbox of cool movies Argento’s “Creepers.” I brush my teeth with freaking foot fungal cream. My tongue is numb and bubbling. Poison control. Call. I’ll survive.
ST. LOUIS – A gummy bear sugar high on set. I am on the floor singing Little Mermaid tunes. “I want be where the people are…” Halloween. A haunted walking tour hosted by the paranormal society. Spooks are spooky.
AUSTIN – Cupcakes. Janet, the former director of the SXSW film festival, in the airport. We hug. I feel the heat of the desert sun. I’m dragged around downtown by Dawn, who always wants just one more… drink. I find nightlife as exciting as astroturf.
RAPID CITY – An ABC news anchor just referred to Indigenous People as, “Indigenous creatures.” Me and a Lakota family. We’re upset. Gifts of porcupine quill earrings and showers of herbs; sage to clear me out and sweet grass so I can greet everybody with the best of my heart. Food poisoning from a fancy French restaurant. I throw up 22 times in 8 hours. I look like I just rolled out of the grave. Zombified.
MONTANA – Taxidermy on every wall. Marshmallowing in the back of a green gator. Cowboys wrangling Appaloosa horses. The winter sun hits me with a warm dose. It’s pretty, pretty. Snow. Total white out. I can’t see the leaves or trees or seeds. Frozen toes. Frozen rivers. Christmas. Yellowstone. Bison and fat deer and wild cats. I feel so much more me in an expanse of space like this. I think I could live here. Put roots under the snow. Sail across land on the back of a horse.