This was originally published on July 17, 2016 on my old blog.
I found this stashed along an erratic array of writings from my summer; bits and pieces scattered, thoughts and jumbled feelings. I didn’t really finish a lot this summer. I wrote. I wrote everyday, yet the words often passionately quickened at the outset, only to trail into weak fragments of feelings and misshapen, underdeveloped stories thick with angsty cliches. I decided to stop forcibly slugging out word after word and instead immersed myself in literature, in others’ words to appease my impatience with my own.
I know that the universal adage of the classic writers is that one should write everyday, even if it aches, even if it hurts an unspeakable, messy, terrible amount, yet I somewhat disagree. I think there is something to be said about immersion, in books, in novels and nonfiction. It means something to lose your own identity, not only as a writer but as a person, and to recreate the universe in stories that do not belong to you, so that you can better recreate your own if it is a tired one.
I read many books and watched many films and listened to so much music; I absorbed and absorbed without ceasing to be indulgent in my over-consumption. I spent days in my bedroom simply swallowing words and sounds whole. Here is one such fragment of my incessant ramblings. It is one of many buried and burrowed into notebooks scattered like breadcrumbs around my bedroom, and half-completed Google Docs in my Writing folder. I spent a bit of time in Maine this summer, and this is a result of the things I noticed there:
There is a lot the ocean can say, and a lot it cannot.
Monday afternoon, to Peaks Island just seventeen minutes or so off of Portland, Maine, the sunlight white and glaringly forceful, watching the tendrils of waves curl up and roar underneath the tired motor of the beat ferry, sitting in a cracked, plastic firetruck-red seat. Barely grown thirteen year olds, gangly and pale-eyed, caress their iPhones with an intimacy so expressively theirs I feel as if I should look away. I hear them chattering about the new Pidgeys and Pikachus they found, and look away from a boy with curly strands of auburn hair piled around his freckled flesh, his eyes tearing into me with the sort of relentless, unblemished scrutiny only thirteen year olds have the simultaneous confidence and insecurity to pull off. I don’t bother looking back.
The island is small and unremarkably beautiful. It looks like every other New England island, speckled with ever-flowing greenery, pale and quiet, with antique concrete shops and offroad wilderness; the world green and thick with fogginess. It is isolated. I like that about it, its isolation. An island like this appears as its own soft-spoken, underwhelming planet, yet a closer look touches into unseen beauty, and delicate wild things all over the place. The water and the wind and the humid cold. It speaks like a quiet child afraid of itself.
Biting roughly into the rubbery chew of fried clams, my head about to explode. Too many sounds colliding into one another ecstatically back and forth back and forth until the world implodes inside of my head. I cannot handle so much at once. It is my overly-sensitive nature, as psychologists often describe this inability to handle chaos. The taste of undercarbonated coke against my throat does little to soothe grine of anxiety building slowly in my belly. Look at this girl, with her fumbling hands trying to hold onto a slippery thing.
I do not like to look like I am asleep all the time, but I do, because I am. I am fast asleep while the world thrums and continues on around me.
Seaside, I can think. I am clear and awake, underneath halfhearted copper eye shadow and a scruffy Cape Cod cap, with dirty hair unbrushed and enmeshed with saltwater, while the sun settles into the horizon. I can think while I sit upon the rocks overlooking the shallows, where the water is dark and murky and the seashells clump in heaping constellations of the ocean’s bones. An energetic, if concealed, ecosystem quietly taking its part in the universe below my dipped toes. I like to look at the small crabs and sea snails and imagine myself as small as the creatures crawling among the sand, cohabiting this watery wild. I can’t really imagine it, but I try.
This ocean is different from my ocean- the Pacific. There, in Los Angeles, tourists flock longingly to uninspiring beaches peppered with cheap thrills and litter and I hate it. I loathe the glare of brazen sun on the waves while I stand uncomfortably in the dusty, grey water bleeding with human contamination.
I do not like the beach. But I like Maine. I like the way the water tells me things in a way no other aspect of nature can. I like the sheer, unobstructed shaft of isolation, of greens and blues and colors rather than noise and lights. I like gripping onto a sticky steering wheel on Peaks Island, the golf cart squeaking with age, and pretending to be free. Nature does not ask you questions nor, more importantly, does it ask the universe questions. It just is, and it does not comprehend why, but it does not have any desire to comprehend such things. Such knowledge will not uncover happiness.
Such knowledge is not found anywhere.