The day is hot. With no promise of rain. A flower is born and a flower falls on every block. A teenage couple is lovesick in the shade. I watch them like a fountain. They are crabs eating each other without fear. Hiding from the flat shape of the sun and kissing until they are breathing the same air and grabbing skin with sharp hands and strong fingers.
My first kiss was on a cruise-ship. Lips on lips and a marching band blowing trumpets on deck and a curly waterslide with burnt wet bodies inside. I didn’t know what to do with his tongue, so I bit it.
On that ship, everything was easy but nothing was free, not the pink reflection of sunset, nor my tongue, nor my thoughts, nor the way he held my hand beneath the sunset in the deep end.
It was a kiss, it wasn’t love. To love is to get lost and found. The birth of a death and the freedom of not knowing the difference.
Polynesians don’t die. Their bodies float to the Milky Way in the sky. There they become stars or sky pirates. And when the star dies or when the pirate is plundered, they fall back to earth.
Papeete is no place for pirates. The city is a palm tree with one ripe coconut. It is bricks stacked on metal stacked on bricks and acidic smiles and guitar strings and graffiti of what life should be and eyes on ice and fast-moving feet. I hide from its collective undying thirst.
That thirst won’t ever go away. The more a man builds, the more he lays in ruins. Captive in a cage and thirsting for the wild.
I’d take a squall over a sky rise any day and in this city I’m thirsty too. Some nights I drink until I’m drunk and sleep comes easy. One margarita, two margaritas, three. I wake up and I’m still thirsty.
I hitchhike west. Thumb out and pink lipstick on. A truck stops and rolls down the window. “La orana, Ou allez vous,” the man asks. “La Orana, Wherever the road ends,” I say.
He drops me off at the end. There is always a vacancy at the end. I watch the wave of broken skulls and I don’t know how many hours passed. The wave is called Teahupoo. According to Surfer Today, it is named in honor of the son of a murdered king, who ate and drank the brain of his father’s murderer.
Many, many, many, many things can make a man thirsty.
I pick a red flower and put it behind my right ear. Putting it there, means I’m available, but I’m not really sure if I am. My life is swallowed by the boat and the dream of the next destination and all the work I must do to keep floating along.
A man taps me on the shoulder. I turn. His eyes get big and his fingers move like he’s playing a piano. “That flower only attracts ghosts,” He says. I don’t have the energy to shake anymore ghosts. I take it off and say a prayer and lay it on the ground.
I walk towards a young man selling a string of fish at the edge of the end of the road. He is handsome and the sea falls out of his eyes. “Did you catch them?” I ask. “Yes, I catch with speargun.” He says. “Are you going out again today,” I ask. “One hour, I go,” he says. “Take me with you.” I say. And he does.
We motor past civilization and we throw the anchor out and we slip into the water. A whale sings for us his alien song and I think about his big tongue and how it weighs more than the boat and I wonder if whales use their tongues when they kiss? The whale keeps singing and I watch the young fisherman shoot parrot fish until I shake and the sun falls and the mountains go dark. “Why do you fish?” I ask. “I make metal go together before. How do you say?” He asks. “Welding,” I say. “Yea I do that, then COVID came and no job. I need money, so I fish. I more happy now. Life simple and more beautiful now.” He points to the sea and the sky.
I think about the fisherman’s tongue too and how it drips stars and salt and freedom and how good that all tastes. I say, “Yea and we’ll always have the Milky Way, if nothing else.”
BOAT UPDATE: The boat has been put back together again. It’s all white with a little wood now. We discovered that it is still leaking in some areas, I believe through the cap rail. We are taking a break and will investigate this more in a few weeks.
In the meantime, I am directing two short films for a company in LA. Starting in mid-November, I will sail around French Polynesia with a man from the Marquesas islands who built and sailed a traditional Polynesian sailing canoe all the way to China using only wayfinding. He is taking me to meet a family who are direct descendants of the humpback whales. More on him and his magic soon!