Monday, April 27, 2009

A Little Lost

(Where Am I Again?, Big Island, HI, 2007)

Mid point; an archor without a sea bottom. The waves crash into the ship, reminding us that what we have built to escape doesn't belong here, and yet we hover in this world in-between.
I could still see the light from the island, we set everything to flame. The cover of fixed housing; meant only for the temporary but became our lives for nine months, were burning like everything else. The flames did not care for what was more important to us, as each piece of our time there vanished into floating black spider webs in the air. I could see the glistening layer of reminiscence in the crews' eyes as they looked to a flicker in the darkness; it was waving us goodbye. That's when John decided to flip the bird to the island that turned us into manly men. I was shocked for a moment, not expecting such an offense but then I saw his eyes, and they were as cold as the rest of us. I hated that goddamn place too, but I also loved it. Damnit, I could've stayed there for the rest of my days, but we were forced there, taken away from our lives, ripped away, maybe even stolen to sleep under the stars, to fear the unknown once more like young boys, and to survive or parish.
Tim pissed his pants, and I did expect that. I think he never wanted to leave, but since we were all leaving he'd rather be on a miracle-to-float-let-alone-survive-the-untamed-sea/suicide journey than to be alone. For a moment I tried pissing my pants too, but thirty-four years of conditioning myself to hold it in I couldn't let a drop go.
Farewell I said in a whisper, and then I noticed Ryan had heard me. He looked at me and smiled. He knew I was crazy, and now he thinks I'm soft. I didn't have scars on my face like him, I didn't have guns like him, but I am just as strong, just not all muscular. It didn't help I wore glasses, that I used to be a quote-on-quote taxman. We all started a new life on that island. And now we were leaving it, as if this vessel that thinly separated us from the sea was our passage into the afterlife. I wondered how it would feel to fly on a cloud, would a cloud in the wind be the same as a ship on the ocean? Since no soul has flown a could and shared their experience with others, I imagined that we were all floating away on a cloud.
Night and day passed by uneventually, and we were happy for that. Food was well supplied since we ended up waiting months for the next opening to leave the island, and we managed to overthink our journey to the unknown. We were leaving everything we had known, for something that we once knew, but had forgotten when we started to adapt to our abandoned island ways. I was afraid of seeing people that weren't part of the eight bearded men I had been surviving with for the past months. How would I talk to them about this? I think I'll just be quiet, I could even put on an exotic accent to my family and friends. I had an excuse to be different, that this experience and departure made me someone new and exciting. But I wouldn't be too exciting if I didn't talk. Maybe I could just speak seldomly, and when I did, I really had something worthwhile to say. And then it would take a lifetime to tell of all nine months of my shipwrecked days instead of spilling it all out in two or three late evenings around a fireplace. I thought of my father, and when he came back from Nam, and how he was different. I don't think he ever killed anyone, but yet he seemed different, and now that I think of it, he may have just found an entry point to be a new person. It seemed to be the most refreshing way to live your life after something crazy happened. I'd be a tough guy, who puts on the most intense camping trips ever, and I'd keep the beard, and wear shirts with ripped off sleeves, and carry a knife with me at all times.
The sun was burning a hole in my back and my feet floated in the water as I sat at the edge of our raft. Today it was Sam's turn with the sunglasses, which meant he also had to be our watch out. He had black eyes, so the sun isn't as bad to him as to my green eyes but I don't think he knew how bad I had it. I watched the entire afternoon go by just looking down into the water, just thinking. I came up with about fifty different "what if" scenarios in my head, one was about a shark, another about a sea turtle, and this one about a herd of jellyfish, all attacking my submerged feet. I came up with reasons for going back, whether I should even go back to the place I came from. After being away for so long you pretty much don't care about your stuff, it was probably given away, and they made an empty grave with your name on it. But if I showed up in their backyard at night covered with flower, and told them they have to live their lives without regret; to do everything they ever wanted to do. I wondered...
I wanted to make my death to everyone I knew meaningful, not for it to be an end; a hump for them to conquer and move on, slowly forgetting my face. I wanted to make them happy, happier than when they were when I was alive in their lives.
It was dark, and another day passed before me as we continued to sway with the ocean, helpless obeding its current and moving along the wind above it.
When I think of that raft I spent a week and a half on with eight bearded men who I called brothers of the sea, I remember the most peaceful days of my life. When I think of a small volcanic island inhabited by no one, and how it must still be smoldering, I think of returning to that island. It would never be the same without my brothers of shipwreck, and no matter how much I want it to reoccur it will never happen. Instead, I live in a small town in Ohio where I do taxes for the elderly, and I have barbeques with my family and friends, and though everything may be operating in the same order as before the shipwreck, one thing is different. I talk in an exotic accent and hold my stories of island life for one moment at a time as I keep my audience on the edge of their couches and lazyboys.
I showed up at an old girlfriend's house at night standing in the middle of her backyard and I waited there for hours until it rained. She never saw me, and she probably was sleeping the whole time, and I smile every time I think of sharks and jellyfishes biting off my legs as I sit at the edge of our rift. I'm still adrift.

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