I’ve been infinitesimally chipping at a dauntingly long writing project (with a couple others simmering on the back burner), but lately I’m stuck on the same maddening section, keep re-working the same clinker sentences into clunky overwrought monstrosities. So I’m going to step out of that for a sec.
Life’s been steady and pleasant, but it’s also felt watery, with me suspended slightly beneath its surface, half-detachedly watching it pass. Part of this I’m sure has to do with the slipperiness I feel around my writing flail—I miss the purposeful rhythm of it. And I do mean purpose—it seems old-fashioned to speak of vocation, but as far back as I can recall I’ve heard the “words under words.” That sounds overblown, but I’m talking about appetence, not aptitude. I like Didion’s succinct non-qualitative description of what it is to be a “writer”:
[W]hat I was…was a writer...By which I mean not a “good” writer or a “bad” writer but simply a writer, a person whose most absorbed and passionate hours are spent arranging words on pieces of paper.
That is in a nutshell the hour-guzzling ether-huffing vaporous nature of it, though really I can’t imagine ever feeling at ease calling myself any kind of creative -er or -ist, but would prefer to think of writing—and taking photos—as things I like to do. It took me years to extricate myself from the perfectionistic procrastinatory strangle of having been from a playdough age classified as a “smart” “good student” (as opposed to someone who had worked really hard on something but had room to make mistakes, discover, expand, grow—if I have children the verbiage of my praise will be verb-y). I guess the static rigidity of titles still feels claustrophobic to me, and breakable, so while Joan speaks of being a “writer” I’ll talk about “writing.”
It’s partly in the absence of its practice I’ve been feeling energetically sea-weedy, bended and swayed in the tidal murks and shallows of my days. Probably more preponderatingly so though I feel wriggly about future-y things.
It’s strange (on the subject of wriggling)—marriage, despite my resistance to aspects of it, does feel like a highly significant pin stuck into my(-cum-our) timeline. It’s the most grown-up thing I’ve done—though given my flouncing ostrich Peter Pannery that’s not saying too much—and it’s my first open-eyed, adult Ritual.
Beyond whatever being married means my getting wedded coincided with the incipience of my thirties, a decade in which I sense many of the idle angsts, aimless convolutions, and feathery disconnects of one’s twenties are gusted away, and what’s left is…a lot less bullshit. I’d dipped into a couple old journals a few weeks back and couldn’t help but think, paraphrasing Plath, was it over such flimsy insignificances I agitated my heart? Hindsight etc., and I know well each new phase brings a new pack of challenges, but I can from here (thirty-one nearing thirty-two) see at least my “I” a lot more clearly.
Whether it’s this fresh decade or my new matron-hood (or both), I’ve been future dwelling. This has not historically been my orientation. Maybe it’s having an older dad, or the earthly lug of all mortality, but thinking about The Future has always made me sad and subaqueously anxious. I deeply love the way things are. That being said, and though I definitely don’t feel in any way stuck in the past, I don’t know that I’m always “present.” It’s likely that I’m sometimes not “in my body” (or so I’ve been told), and while I am more corporeally moored now than I was in my twenties, I still do frequently feel like my summoned consciousness has to travel back up through some blind, viscous liquid to be again “here.”
I had an ah-ha moment around this a couple weeks back. While home for Christmas I had (very improbably) done a youtube yoga sesh with Franz. The video, which he’d located through some rudimentary query, is a 45-minute “strong beginner/intermediate total body vinyasa flow,” and I have a very fond memory of arm-trembling my way through it in our dim, plum-carpeted living room, with Franz during a few choice poses ripping farts that were pure comedy. I am pleased with the randomness of the video, and I’ve since been doing the same one a couple times a week. Rama, who is mega-yogic, has deemed the vid legit and does it with me most times.
And I find that I love it. It’s interesting—my ex-bf was super into yoga, in what seemed to me a swanning and swaggering kind of way (like he’d injure himself in classes showing off). And though I always knew it was something I’d benefit from practicing, I felt intransigently opposed to the nose-studded, Lulu-suited classes with their black-hole mirrors and spiritually materialistic whiff. Or so it seemed to me at the time.
In retrospect I can’t discount that I felt an undercover aversion to many things my ex was into. It’s not that I wasn’t actively supportive of his pursuits—I was, very steadily. (He, on the other hand, harbored a self-confessed jealous “hatred” of the things I loved, and though he did try in ways to ‘patronize’ my creative listings—notably in the form of considerate gifts—he often couldn’t prevent himself from undermining and attacking my frail germinations in ways both abstruse and glaring.) Though I was better behaved I can see now I staged a rebellion within—took an inwardly defiant stance. We really were (in one story at least) adversarial circling polarities.
Nowadays, freed from that orbit, I find that I am after all a dry-brushing, tongue-scraping, coconut-oiled, stretching-savoring, long-hike-relishing, tarot-card-reading, Thai-food-scarfing, kombucha-swilling fiend (all stuff that within that relationship I’d been stubbornly anti). Another exemplar: I have in recent years amassed a hoard of houseplants, and they’re flourishing…or are at least mostly reliably alive. A way-back birthday my ex had gifted me five or so plants—they all died. I’m not saying I doused them with weed-killer, but there was a certain pointedness to my neglect. I feel guilty recalling that, but it’s a succinct and cruel little allegory. Maybe in retrospect my behavior wasn’t as reproachless as I told us it was. We loved one another and all; I just don’t think we were disposed to like each other very much.
Anyway, I think I like yoga now. I’m still repulsed by the graceless narcissistic capitalist perversions of it, but I am learning the deep personal pleasures of strengthening and stretching, appreciate its structured balances, take real satisfaction from the symmetries of opposing poses. As for my Eureka!: the Franz-found yoga video wraps up with an unrushed Shavasana. I blew it off consistently—hopped up to attend to other things now the “hard” part of the workout was over. And then the other day I remained in the pose. I let my eyeballs roll back into my skull, let me tongue loll to the side, my fingers curl up like withering leaves, my hips sink and sink, let myself just be to the point that I felt like I wasn’t. It was startlingly profound, and it made me realize how much of the time my consciousness is a kerfuffled bird skittering and fluttering in an unseen cage.
I love to run, and I think it’s excellent for my creative brain and general emotional equilibrium, but it’s a disembodying form of exercise for me. It rockets me off into thought, which I love, but I’m beginning to apprehend that I need also to practice movement that isn’t all about flying out of my body.
Laughably enough (and this after my basic bitch yoga bashing) I had this realization in a spin class. Until last year all I knew of spinning I’d learned from Kimmy Schmidt. My dad has a recumbent bike in the living room at home, and when I’m down there I like to ride it and read, or sit on it while we’re visiting or watching a movie. Its motor is broken so there isn’t really any resistance (though apparently the one Rama had long-ago backordered from Sears arrived a few days back!), so I ride it with my mom’s two pairs of leg weights doubled up on each ankle. After one HB visit last year I came across a sohsh meeds post about a local studio—Ride Oakland—and Madz and I decided to take them up on their offer of a preliminary freebie class. We were such befuddled ungainly bunglers, but we both appreciated the gnarl of the workout and went on to purchase some “New Rider” bargain package. (Quick disclaimer: Ride Oakland, which was founded by two good-vibes badass women whose classes are our hands-down faves, is I think an indie exception to the negative spin stereotype. Maddy and I also sampled SoulCycle and it was indeed its own parody). It really struck me, especially when first starting out, how eminently present I was during the classes, clumsily flailing to track the choreography and completely failing to catch the beat. I was absolutely there in my body for fifty minutes straight, and I didn’t feel trapped and I didn’t hate it.
Other benefits: the heart rate hikes are cuckoo for cardio—spin-conditioned jogs are fleet-footed gambols. Also, I don’t know if it’s the pedal-pushing or all the core work, but I feel so much more planted now, like I can easily stand on one foot and swing my other leg around like crazy. O, and I can do push-ups for the first time since I was a kiddo (though Maddy said my form needs tweaking—but still!)—spin classes feature an arm weights bit and lots of little presses. And some combo of all the aforementioned strengthenings has helped my surfing pop-up and my overall groundedness on the board. Plus one final frivolous cherry—after a lifetime of possessing a decidedly unremarkable, longish, flattish hiney I have at last developed a very slight amount of pop-ass (running has undoubtedly helped as well, but there’s been a subtle spin-facilitated lift). Maddy on the other hand has always been the proud owner of a superlative derrière—one time she and I were walking down the street, and as we approached to pass them two sidewalk skeeves reflexively launched into some idle hollering. “Hello ladies. Lookin’ good. Hey, are you two twins?” We ignored them and swept by, then heard called after us: “NOT TWINS BY THE BOOTY!!!” El oh effing el.
It’s been super sweet too to have Maddy as my early-morning-masochism partner in crime (we usually do the seven a.m. class—it feels like true shit at six when you want to stay snuggly luxuriant in the blue-dark, but having smashed out a rigorous workout by eight is dang fine way to start the day). It’s looking likely this near-decade of Madz’s and my living and working together is drawing to its slow close, and despite my restaurant work over-it-ness (how much shit behavior must one in one life osmose?), plus my overall itch to mix it up, I am working to remain gratefully present in the wind-down of this charmed chapter of tight sororal entwinement. It has been one of the greatest gifts of my life, and it’s my dear hope we’ll be again in future times close neighbors.
Neither Rama nor I feel too pressed when it comes to the Big Life Plan stuff—we’re both more mild meanderers than hustlin’ nose-to-the-grindstone strivers, and we’re certainly not charging down the rutted white-picketed career-marriage-home-owning-baby-having track. Getting married did though, for better or worse, dredge up from the depths some big ripply question marks we’ve begun to swim around in.
Here’s the tentatively sketched (if fortune favors it) gp: remain in our current sitch through the year. Help Madz and Jeff prepare for the wedding and above all Enjoy The Time. These are such happy days, so much so that even pondering a shake-up makes me feel like an ingrate, but change gonna come. Early 2019 we’re planning on it. We’re going upend our pleasant settledness and rashly abandon our unexceptional but cozy, well-below-the-rental-market home. Newly wed Maddy and Jeff (and Lola and Nina, temporarily) will move into their own pad, maybe across the bay where inshallah Mad will be attending the SF Fire Academy. Rama and I will load our stuff into his storage and head down with Poundy to Huntington for a month or two. This is a scheme very close to my heart. It sounds so good to get to spend a wee stretch of time with my folks and Franz, and I’m aiming while there to put our asses to work helping out, me with some organizational enterprises (it’s a wildly boring skill, but I am a truly excellent organizer) and onmi-capable Rom with all manner of handyman tasks. Also it sounds pretty fucking fun to live like a surf ratty So-Cal beach bum for a sec.
Next stop: Nevada City. I really want Rama to get in some solid quality time with his pops, plus they’d be both stoked to bust out the rest of the porch project, among others. For my part, I would love to fall into step for a spell with the steadily measured rhythms of mountain time.
After that (unless we opt to do it between the two): we hope to honeymoon. We’re still floating ideas around—I’m really into the concept of consecutively visiting two disparate spots, though both obviously (as Rama is a monster) must have surf. We’ve been into the idea of pop-tent car-camping our way around New Zealand (and we’ve just had a preview: I’m wrapping this up on a plane back from Kauai, where Ram had rented us a camp-outfitted Toyota Tacoma—I’ll save all that though for its own piece). From there we’re eyeing up Tahiti for some more traditionally sumptuous romance. Wherever we wind up the notion of not simultaneously paying rent on a California pad sounds mighty fine.
And then? That’s where it gets a little more clouded. We have some thoughts (though I have zero assumptive hubris about any of it). R’s kept a vigilant eye out for desirable real estate: our dream is to have a moderate (two to six acres) pocket of nature-y space somewhere near (but not too near) the ocean, preferably in Marin not too far from R’s fam. A pre-existing house would be approx a million times less hassle, but building a new one isn’t out of the question, and R’s contractor neighbor asserted that, with the market as poo as it is, ground-up construction is currently the more cost-effective option. Rama certainly has skills and connections if that’s our route, and I’m down to pro tem trailer-dwell. Buying in Inverness would be the insane fantasy, though it’s kinda sky-high pricey. We super-duper regardless want to have a side-piece bit of acreage in Salt Point (upon which R might erect a rustic structure/vaycay shack), and sometimes I wonder if we ought to consider making that our all-the-time zone. It’s a bit removed…from Ocean Beach, for instance (monster), but hey, there are other surf spots…like Point Arena.
As for income logistics, living somewhere remote could jive with the work we’re considering: wedding photography. We’re going to begin by scheduling a consultation with our own very successful boda photogs; their business model is impressively fine-tuned, and I think talking with them will give us a better idea if it’s something we’d like to try. We’re set as well to shoot Maddy’s wedding in October, so that too should be informative. I think it’s something we could be good at; we both like taking pictures and are complementarily affable. The profession I believe involves a lot of time in front of the computer, but we’re both drawn to the reasonably lucrative flexibility of it.
What I really want though is to write, and Rama has big inventor-y dreams; I pray we keep at doing what we love even if we never do see a payday.
I also—and this is my pipingest most frivolous fancy of them all—have a little fantasy of making a collection of clothes: simply cut separates in a lovely swath of colors that could be combined over many variations, sort of a minimalist uniform. I have the idea of five different cuts for the tops, then two different skirts and two different pants.
Here’s a demonstrative spitballed scrawl I frenziedly sketched for my girl Allie May up in Nevada City:
She was on my exact wavelength palette-wise, practically naming the colors with me in chorus. I wouldn’t want to try it as any kind of biz—I really just want to own such a wardrobe (I have against all odds become a little more sartorially utilitarian)—but in collabs with nimble-fingered talents like Allie, Rama, and/or my ma I feel it would be very possible to produce some garments (besides Allie May and me, Emma’s also on the waitlist).
There’s been one other hulking sea beast of a question: to attempt or not to procreate? It’s been a submarine channel of reluctant wondering for me, especially, prosaically, as I wade into my thirties. Rama is down in either direction, and I think I also could be content with or without children. I really love our life, and I really value our freedom. If we were to have kids, preserving the ways of being that bring us joy would be of great importance to me. That might seem hysterically naive, but if there’s any pair of goof-offs who could keep the good times rolling, I think Rama and I, infant and toddler of the Zodiac respectively, might be they.
I was feeling more broody around the topics of kids and the living-sitch-shift around a month back when Rama and I shared a Nick’s Cove cabin for a night with Maddy and Jeff (courtesy of the verkleptifyingly generous wedding present of a big ol’ Nick’s Cove gift card, very thoughtfully coordinated by Madz). It was so fucking fun. We slurped down bub and a depraved number of oysters and noshed a medley of posh cheeses and crackers and olives in the room, jotted over to the boathouse for sunset, had an actually rather excellent dinner in the restaurant (Maddy had her first chicken since childhood!), then back at the room Madz, Ramz, and I (Jeff knocked out on the couch) opened up another bottle of natural wine (“the best kombucha I’ve ever had” -Rama) and got down on some tarot.
Maddy’s reading was about firefighting and was meaningful for her. Rama’s was a broad interrogative about our future living situation; his spread was super cool, but what was coolest was it got us all to talking. I’d had a runnel of worry in me—apart from the obvious sadness of ending roomie-ing with Madz—that if in moving out I’d be leaving Maddy high and dry. So I was much relieved to hear Maddy’s take: she’d already had concerns about how, plunged deep into the boot-campy gruelment of the San Francisco Fire Academy, she could also pile on the East Bay commute, and she’d been wondering if she would need to relocate. That took a hefty load off my mind, and I was also glad to hear she too very much wanted us, when all the dust was settled, to have landed geographically near.
For my spread I sought insight on the offspring topic, and truly I gained some. One of my first cards was the death card, but it freaked me not at all—my immediate response was: exactly. So much of what I think about life (new and otherwise) has to do with death. Giving birth itself is such a close brush with it—it’s a powerful transaction takes place there. And this age (thirty-one) is one of discernible aging: pets are getting older, parents are getting older, I’m getting older. All around death takes a drastic cartoonish step closer. Life is the remedy, the fresher the better.
There’s another thing I think about. I love Rama more than I ever knew I could, or desired to, love another (non-kin) person. I love him so much it is terrifying for me to look at it directly. The thought of having some of him in another person, or people, holds a forceful pull. (He would also obvi be an amazing dad and partner-in-parenting.)
My mom on a phone chat the other day said something else that resonated, that as you get older and your kids are grown, you find that you’re as close to them as anyone, and they’re the people with whom you have some of the best fun in your later life. I just love that.
But, regardless, for R and me, if it doesn’t happen it doesn’t happen. And who knows, as I’ve half-joked with Ramz (whenever we’re in intensive music-appreciation mode), we might just want to blow off the whole kids thing, learn a couple instruments, and start a band.
Anyway the takeaway from my spread was (according to my reading of it—gotta love intuitive tools) that I shouldn’t stress about that stuff, and should enjoy the present.
Which is what I’m working on, bobbing along on the near-glassy tranquility of this current moment. I’m on the crest of a sea change, but even the process of writing this thing has considerably eased my worry-tossed thoughts. I do feel more centered about it all after verbally moving through it—I feel even an unhurried anticipation.
I’ve been anchoring myself also in routine and in the bodily—with the aforementioned spinning, running, hiking, stretching, even some primordial surfing—plus I’ve even been cooking a bit! Rama, because he is magic, found in a Rockridge free box four very slightly chipped creamy grey Heath bowls—the perfect vessels for a badass meal. I am utterly enamored with the ultra scrut and nourishing bowl genre of cooking. What improvisational boundlessness! What free-wheeling whimsy! What messy medleys!
It’s been smug and cozy too eating out less/making more food at home, and really our overall vibe has been more homebody-ish, largely I suppose because we didn’t do much camping this past winter…because the wind was unseasonably offshore and Rama couldn’t abide the FOMO of being too long away from OB. I’ve missed the punctuating nature-escape counterbalance to our urban-ish livin’, and perhaps that’s what’s had me out of sorts, but it has on the other hand been grounding to pass sunny afternoons basking in the back with the cats and the sun-bear and the scent of crushed orange blossom, to spend evenings prepping food and playing records and dancing down our long living room. O, and I’ve been fixedly into bouquet-making, mixing flora both foraged (on hikes and even on neighborhood runs) and store-bought.
When I began this piece my consciousness was an citizen of underwater cities; by route of purposeful routine—that of getting it written in combination with others I’ve mentioned—I find myself again now berthed. I’d lingered so figuratively long in the “chambers of the sea”— tugged in taught tension with metaphors of the terra firma—it felt fitting to be punched this last week with some carnal actualities.
I’d never been seasick before, so I felt no apprehension last Thursday’s pre-dawn, cheerfully bopping backseat to the island radio reggae and swigging down my carefree coffee, en route to our fishing charter’s 5:45 a.m. cast-off out of Kapa’a. Nicole (Rama and I half the time co-Kauai-ed with R’s bro Esan and his ultra-gunner wife) had rigorously researched and then booked the expedition—complacent I hadn’t bothered to get any deets, and my vague concern was if the vessel had a head onboard. My last Hawaiian boating experience was a humpback-whale-watching expedition on a bathroom-less pontoon off Maui; a couple hours in I was filled to the bitter brim with POG, about ready to throw niceties to the Kona winds and (attempt to) go off the side, improbable floats and craft-full of strangers be damned. And I thought that was traumatic.
This boat, an austere 25-foot Radon, definitely did not have a bathroom. Its captain, Terry, a kinetic and jubilant man (really a pretty extraordinary human and a gnarly OG surfer), was thrilled to see us and ushered us on board. The tide was falling fast in the un-dredged lagoon where he docked his boat, and he was eager to embark so we could squeak out without bottoming out. Our departure was pretty punctual but we were still momentarily sand-barred—Rama and Esan had to, moments after boarding the boat, hop out again and help push.
And then we were out past the channel markers. I was pretty caught up at the start with our rare perspective on the dawn-sheened sea, feverishly snapping grainy pics and videos. A couple minutes in it struck me the roughness of our ride wasn’t abating—in fact it was becoming more difficult for me to hold a camera and nothing else. I tucked my phone in the seat-back and clung to it, trusting that we were only making our way out past the break and then things would settle down. We careened over wave after head-on wave, with stomach drops aplenty, and all the while Terry chattered cheerily away about how he was glad it wasn’t too stormy for us to go out, how he had so much excess energy the day of an expedition sometimes he had to go for a bike ride beforehand (at four or five in the morning?), how, no, he’d only had coffee but once and it had given him the shakes, how he was glad we were a “light and in-shape crew” (largely because of the boat-pushing part). I perched mutely terrified on my cushioned bench, monkey arms wrapped tight around the headrest of the captain’s chair (Terry was standing at the wheel, blithely reminiscing about a time he’d had to dislodge his boat from the back of a whale shark), reminding myself that Terry (as he told us) had been fishing for forty-some years, leading charters for twenty—encouraging stats—and he seemed deeply untroubled by the turbulence of the sea. As soon as I’d convinced myself death by drowning wasn’t a likelihood I became queasily cognizant of a new risk.
We were cresting our way out on a long-shot to a FAD buoy (stands for “fish attracting device”—little fish seek refuge in the shadow of it, and where there is a conglomeration of little fish there is the possibility of tide-brought bigger ones), scouring the surging horizon for auspicious hunting seabirds (I glimpsed a handful of times the singular blue of a passing red-footed booby’s beak), but alas there were no mahi-mahi to be found on the fishdar. Though I love dorado I was starting to care a lot less about fish, and a lot more about the unrelenting bouncing and what it was doing to the space behind my eyeballs.
Like I said I had never been seasick before (it hurts to use the pluperfect here). I’ve always felt invigorated on the water—I’m a major fraidy cat but I have a whit of a speed demon streak when it comes to boats, starting when I was a squirt who conquered my trepidation to passenger Lake Powell water-skier-towing speedboats. And I’ve been on more vessels than I can count—cruise ships, houseboats, motorboats, yachts, cruisers, rowboats, sailboats, kayaks, canoes. This was different.
Nicole had been making pleasantly chitchat while I was grimly clutching and glaring ahead, so I was surprised when she acknowledged she too was feeling the effects of the choppy oceanic motion. And was then was suddenly, silently vomiting over the railing. After her first bout Terry passed her some saltines to “soak up the stomach acid”—I took one in the hopes it would help with my own iffiness. It was unpalatably unsalted (I felt like all I wanted was salt) and I stowed the uneaten bit behind the seat with my phone.
Rama and Esan in the meantime were eagle-eyed sentries rear-facing the rods. They cracked a couple brews, and I tried a sip of Ram’s in another vain attempt at a remedy—another no-go. Terry explained that since the mahi gamble hadn’t manifested we’d go into shallower water to jig, and suddenly we were traveling with instead of against the waves. I stuck my head as far off the side as I could without being jounced out and felt myself perking up in the windy sea spray. My sunnies were coated with a crusty layer of salt, but I felt like I might pull through. I took pictures. I shot video.
And then then significant blips appeared on the fishfinder and we stopped. And bobbed. It was the bobbing done me in: I think it was right around when Rama reeled in our first catch (a yellowfin—the only of the day) that I tied back my hair and barfed up my morning coffee and the cold water I’d been optimistically sipping at since the going got rough.
The apparent thing about seasickness is once you vomit you will continue to vomit, and you will not feel any better for it. You’ll in fact, as your stomach steadily empties itself, feel increasingly worse.
More and more fish were caught—aku and amberjack (though none so bloodily as the gaffed ahi), and my sickness eventually progressed to where I could no longer gamely snap between-puke trophy-pose photos, but instead slumped lifelessly over the side of the boat, gazing vacantly into the endlessly-oscillating inscrutable blue.
I was in pure hell, but I also didn’t want to cut short anyone else’s pricey, bucket-listed fun. At some point Nicole bounced back—maybe from the adrenaline of reeling in a fish—and so I was alone in my plight, with no notion of when it would end.
It’s almost hallucinatory being so sick—your soul blows into a barren, beyond-caring place. Or at least that was my experience. I went dark. I may sound like a melodramatic wimp, and it is true I don’t have a high threshold for physical affliction, on top of which I’m practically barf-phobic, but I have never in my life been so violently, wretchedly ill.
After our last “last fish,” after the final dregs of my stomach bile were streaked an unlikely chartreuse down the side of the boat, after I then commenced dry-retching in wrenching broken-puppet convulsions, so beyond-the-bourn that even seen-it-all Terry seemed concerned and restored us speedily to shore, after I had at last planted my bare feet on the unmoving asphalt and was promptly sick no more, though I was “better” I wasn’t the same. I felt like I’d paid a visit to the underworld and had returned, but different, and not just because upchucking I’d exploded all the blood vessels around my eyes into revolting galaxies of red freckles that stained my bruised boiled-plum lids for days after.
It is sometimes such suffering to be corporeal, “fastened to the dying animal[s]” of our bodies, and though I’m not sure exactly what I learned—except that I will never, fucking ever set foot on another diminutive open-sea fishing rig—there is a shadow. The videos I took off the boat give me straight-up motion-sickness, but even looking at the photographs makes me feel strange. I don’t want to stare too long into the abyss of it (“nor mouth had, no nor mind expressed/ what heart heard of, ghost guessed”)—and indeed in the torrentially wet, vividly verdant days following my descent I Persephone-ed ecstatically in the electric teeming vitality of “The Garden Isle.” Whatever else, there is something there about life and death, there is something there about soul and body, and there is something there about land and water.