I took some days off from work this last week, simply so I could have some days off but I ended up being sick with a sinus infection. So I cleaned my house since I was miserable anyway and put clean sheets on the bed and ordered pho ga from the place two blocks away no less than four times. I went…
everyone should have a friend who leaves the windows open at night so you can hear the ocean
I am, I assure you, the kind of person who dances by himself in his basement apartment—often to rousing, loud music (what else is there?). Sometimes I catch glimpses of myself in the mirror as I shuffle past, but I don’t often see my facial expression, which is the way I like it. The music is usually something slightly surf-y or punk-y or something else entirely, just as long as it’s propulsive enough for me to actually work up a sweat. I have excess manic energy to dispose of carelessly—all the time, it’s always there—so this works for me. At my brother’s wedding last week, as on so many previous occasions, I swayed and bounced and twisted and swaggered frenetically in the way I am genetically predisposed to. That probably doesn’t sound like a description of dancing, but I did it while music was playing. My hair became so sweat-soaked it had that angry wet look, and the ocean air in the backyard where we passed a bottle of champagne under the cafe lights was perfect, but not cool. It was hot.
Anyway, I’ve been home five days now. I got a total of four jellyfish stings in South Carolina. Two were pretty bad, and my right ankle swelled up a couple days ago. But that’s done now, and I ran five miles this morning. I’ve been editing an article that’s due to an academic journal on Monday. I ripped open my forearm diving into a wave and dragging along the seashell-encrusted sand, and that’s healing, too. I am also a reckless ocean lover.
I’m not really taking any breaks to dance today. I have to meet some friends for a drink at 3PM, which is a strange time to be doing that. I also have to drive some friends to the airport so they can get to Iceland for their connecting flight before the volcano erupts for real and cancels European flights for a week (if that’s what is going to happen, let’s hope not).
The only other thing I wanted to mention, and in fact the whole reason I started writing this blog post: Sam Cooke. When this song plays, you can hear pop music straining against the dream of perfect communication that first inspired it. Maybe you don’t dance, because it’s not super danceable. And it’s Sam Cooke, so singing along is difficult, too. Take the opportunity to be a little bit afraid to die, just as Sam Cooke says. But a change is gonna come. Maybe.
The Angel Oak is said to be 1,500 years old, and it’s basically a mess of tentacles. Some of them dive into the soft mulch and burst out again to makes branches that are also roots and also new trees. If you could see a time-lapse video of its growth it would look like a writhing, wooden octopus. It’s propped up in places with wires, wooden blocks, and beams. You can’t touch it or climb on it. It seems big enough to live on/in. It doesn’t cost any money to see, but all of us standing around it are looking as much at the pictures we’re taking on our phones as at the tree itself. So.
August, from Minneapolis to Edisto Beach, South Carolina.
In South Carolina for my brother’s wedding, I’ve had my first jellyfish sting, just back of my right elbow. Actually, five of us have been stung. Some have a spiderweb of trails where the tentacles briefly embraced them. I think the consensus is that, by the next day, our stings just look cool. There are also large spiders, and—admittedly—far too many pelicans. They sweep the beach, and we argue about whether their wingspan really “looks like” ten feet. In the ocean yesterday, my brother reached down to pick up a stick or coat hanger he stepped on and proceeded to lift a horseshoe crab entirely out of the water before he knew what he was doing. He immediately questioned why he would pick a coat hanger from the ocean floor anyway and dropped it. We saw its legs flailing as it righted itself with its tail and disappeared into a wave. We then felt bad for accidentally terrorizing an animal that is so many hundreds of millions of years old it’s considered a living fossil. There are bright, phosphorescent dots in the water most nights. If you try to grab them, you get nothing. But you’ve had a bit to drink so that’s understandable.