Sometimes I want to write to you, but I’m afraid of what is going to come out of my head, so I don’t. I just stare at the sea and the stars instead. I stare at them so long that they become shy and uncomfortable, as uncomfortable as you feel when the dentist’s disposable-latex-gloved hands are in your mouth.
All you need to know, the only thing that truly matters, is that I could have loved you like a bad habit, here among the flowers and the cinnamon skies and the strawberry moons. Here, where the sunsets start earthly, but last a long time in the celestial- as if the sky is frozen in peach and screaming “Wake up all you golden things!” Here, where Mars is so bright that it reflects on the water like the moon. Here, where the sound of the sea beneath me is like the sound of someone else breathing, though it could never replace the sound of your breath beneath me, breathing.
I’ve been sailing up the Vanuatu island chain. Island hoping. There is a great distance between these lands and the sails are either full day or overnight excursions. I’ve been jibing in the pitch black of night, waiting for the fruit to drop.
I’m always trying to sail as high as I can and as deep as I can. Sometimes my sail is smooth and it feels like I’m ice skating across the water. Other times it’s like I’m sailing on top of rocks and I about have a panic attack at the sound of my sails luffing or backwinding and bashing around. Damn that atrocious sound. It sounds like all things sound on the verge of breaking.
I’ve learned that two knots of wind can make a massive difference, two minutes can make a massive difference, two people can make a massive difference. I’ve learned that sitting in the cockpit when it’s nasty out and waiting for my conditions to change feels intense, it keeps me on edge, it’s too rambunctious. But if I can rip myself out of the cockpit, go down in the cabin, and lay on the settee with a book in my hand, then my world feels so much smoother, like a night to day difference. You want to know what I’m reading? I’m devouring every word of Barbra Kingsolver that I can. I’ve moved on from the Bean Tree to Animal Dreams.
Anyway, sailing is always teaching me lessons. The way the cockpit feels versus the cabin is a big one. Don’t sit around staring and waiting for the wind to change into something you desire, instead go focus on something else that feels right and then that wind that felt wrong will eventually change the way it’s blowing. I’ve wasted so much of my life trying to make the wrong things right.
It was a pity to leave Tanna and the glow of the volcano. The people there come from the future. Life there is as it should be, simple, shaded, and shared. It’s a place that will burn forever in my brain.
From Tanna I sailed to the island of Erromango. I left at first light, anchor up and gone, and it still took me all day to get there. The whole village is a garden. I spent my day there smelling fresh chopped sandlewood, swimming in the river of a waterfall, and chatting with the chief. At 11 am the Chief fed me fresh corn cooked on an open fire that was burning inside of a palm leaf hut. Then he took me around the village pointing to me and telling everyone in his language, “She is brave, she sailed here alone,” and some of the people began to follow me as I walked and they all had rainbow-colored umbrellas and wore green outfits and it felt like I was the wizard in some strange OZ. There is a cave on Erromango that houses the skulls of all the former chief’s, but I wasn’t allowed to see it.
I’m sailing again now. Where are you going? Where are you going? Where are you going? I don’t know, my head is exploding. All I know for certain is that I could listen to the sound of water all day, but it’s heartstopping when the waves sound like a beach behind me, it means they’re breaking. To drown out the breaking waves I listen to my recordings from the John Frum ceremony over and over and let my mind get blown again and again.
At this very moment I’m on my way to Efata, the main island. I have to keep moving because there is so much in this country that I want to see and the season is short with cyclone season always looming. I have to keep moving because supplies are low and the other boats and I have resorted to bartering and trading and I’ve traded all I can trade. I have to keep moving because I need to sort out where I’m going to be for cyclone season; the Solomon Islands, Australia, Papua New Guinea, Indonesia?
If I choose the Solomon’s I have tons of time. If I keep going west, I have to see Vanuatu and the Solomon’s and get west before the 3 knot counter-currents and northwest winds start to blow in October. But then also there are all of those men with AK-47s who are robbing boats in the Solomon’s and Papua to think about. How long do I want to sit there and be a duck for? My head is all jigsawed and pretzeled trying to sort it out.
The boats I’m cruising with are deciding if they want to see a little of a lot or a lot of a little and soon they will be scattering. Some will go here, others there, some will hustle, others will slow down. Boat Lizard and I are trying to stay together, but she fell in love, so her journey might be going elsewhere.
I dreamt the other night that I did one long sail and finished my circumnavigation. I ended up in some cosmopolitan city where nobody cared that I had sailed around the world. And I didn’t know where to live or where to keep my boat. And all I wanted was to go back to the place on the sea where I was before it all ended. I found a race boat heading that way, they were all wearing matching shirts, but they wouldn’t take me with them, there was no room. I think this dream means that I should go slow. Take my time. Smell all the salt.
I’m buddy boating right now with one other boat to Efata. On the radio I’m all, “Yo, what’s your SOG (speed over ground).” And there like “7.7” and I’m like “Dang, I’m only doing 5.5, guess I’ll see y’all in heaven.”
On that boat there is a monk of the Japanese order, but he’s not Japanese, he’s Australian and he’s 43. He’s fresh from the monastery and we’re quite certain he can levitate during his morning meditations, but he’s the most contradictory monk I’ve ever met. Like if he’s a monk then you might as well call the devil “God.” Another person on that boat is a 23 year old sex addict whose tried every drug under the sun, including meth. She calls everybody “bro,” ran two kids over with the dinghy, and has five Tinder dates lined up in every major island we stop at. She and the monk both dress like they’re of the dirt. She asks, “If the devil punishes bad people, then why does everybody dislike the devil?”
It’s dawn. The sky is breaking into a hundred little pieces. There are boobie birds fish-diving all around me. I see something. I think I’m discovering some uncharted island. It’s long with curves. I’ll call it Banana Island. The sun just finished rising up and all the islands turned from grey to green, but Banana Island is still grey and I can see clearly that is not an island at all, it’s just a ship the size of an island. I’ll still call it Banana.
If I were to interview myself it would go like this. Q: What is your favorite thing to look at? A: A rainbow over the sea. Q: What is your favorite color? A: Yellow like the sun. Q: What is one secret you’ve never told anybody. A: In the forest of my mind lives a white owl and a coyote, but they’re both shapeshifters, so it’s hard to say for certain what they’ll be tomorrow.
Alright, that’s all I’ve got. I’ll just be out here doing the mashed potato. Xoxox
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