With the beatific onset of Summer, and the opening of the co-dependent anchovy and pelican and petrel and rockfish and halibut and cod and coot and loon and whale and sardine and tuna and salmon season on Monterey Bay, I searched daily for the humpback whale who appeared to be light taupe, unless in neutral light he more accurately represented dark ecru on the eternal color wheel. I had my reasons that were plenty good enough for me. I had been thinking with unceasing perplexity about repercussions of the big crunch that would surely follow the big bang.
The wry codger who affected dry wisdom from a bench overlooking the launching ramp at the harbor was often waiting to offer his help. I toyed with my rudder while preparing to push. He believed I needed good luck. I was happy for his help in pushing. He predicted I would get skunked. He was often right.
I said, “On my count, 1,2,3…”
He said, “Hold your horses.”
A kid with big muscles helped in exchange for two bottles of home-brewed brown beer that I suspected would kick his well defined gluteus maximus, though I never saw him again.
I said, “On my count…”
The kid said, “Let me take a stance.”
Next, from the codger I heard, “You probably still believe that what you don’t know can’t hurt you.”
I said, “I strive to avoid those double shots of negatives in the morning.”
“You think I don’t know where you’re headed?”
I said, “South.”
He said, “You betcha.”
I said, “1-2-3, push.”
“In my day, we walked the talk.”
The kid said, “I’m doing all the work here.”
I said, “It’s done.”
The kid said, “Whatever.”
The codger said, “You betcha.”
I said, “See ya.”
And so, disguised as a clueless dweeb caught fishing for white sea bass away from his sheltered comfort cove, I felt free to continue my journey of lifelong learning on the roiled surface of the sea where the horizon loomed sharply like a ruthless interrogation technique trying to break me down.
The first three miles beyond the crumbling cliffs at the end of western civilization are always the hardest. Upon reaching quasi-international waters, however, I expected to enjoy virtual if not real freedom, where I could remain hidden from the inscrutable stink eye of the henchmen from the Santa Cruz County Sheriffs Department who were primed like a gas pump to harass me by enforcing the restraining order unjustly held over my head. The diabolical, stamped document had been drafted to keep me at an unwieldy distance from all of the deep thinking whales of Monterey Bay, not only the humpback whale who appeared to be light taupe in many if not most scintillating lights when not confounding the myopic human eye as a fleeting vision of deepest dark ecru, to whom I owed a profound and abject apology for any inadvertent transgressions on my part due to limits beyond my perception, which I admit might seem shallow to him. But, I was willing to take the risk.
It was quasi-clear if not luminous to me as a concerned citizen that when first things came and remained first the jack booted thugs of the imperious central government were aiming to stash me away for no more of a sinister offense than exercising my prerogatives as a life long learner seeking intelligent conversation with a deep diving and astral traveling mind demonstrably superior to my own.
Luckily, I knew how to act my part convincingly.
When the tween tweens arrived, however, on the first anarchic Monday after the last authoritarian Friday that segmented the silly progressive school year into clumsy quadrants that only benefited the nascent nanny state, to set up their bivouac for a long Summer of flaunting infantile parental authority, I was faced with a dilemma. How much vague muttering about my role as a traitor to my species in the war against clueless human enablers of venal cats who murder beautiful birds could I afford to reveal without endangering their incipient welfare? It was more than my own neck sticking out.
After due consideration consisting of several tense seconds, I concluded, and smartly in my opinion, though subject to change, not much.
I said, “Sup.”
The yang twin rolled his eyes. I felt keenly as if that was an ostensible improvement over the last time we exchanged fluid dynamics. The yin twin who had seen it all smiled with her full complement of alloyed metal. The yin twin was remarkably attuned to the rhythm of the long Summer days, buoyed by the secrets she knew, and I did not.
After a perfunctory check for weapons, I said, “I’m going fishing early in the morning. Does anyone want to join me?”
I was surprised when the yin twin replied that she did. Maybe not such a smart tactic after all, I was forced to rethink, and conclude.
“I’ll go to sleep early tonight,” she said sweetly, “so I can wake up early in the morning.”
I said, “Not that early.”
She said, “I’ll wake you.”
“What about you,” I asked the yang twin, although it was not much of a question.
He said, “I’m going to stay up real late so I can sleep real late.”
I said, “I feel ya, bra.”
“Don’t call me, bra.”
“You sound like someone else I know.”
“I hear ya, dude.”
The next morning I followed a v-shaped phalanx of pelicans until I lost them in a dense patch of fog. They appeared to be black, although I knew deep down they were brown. I remained undeterred, however. I still believed I was headed south. Isolation of simple equations has allowed humans to perform weak tasks without factoring in broad consequences that lead to no end. For many of the same or similar reasons, I felt confident. Sort of.
The yin twin said, “Do you know where you’re going?”
I said, “South.”
She said, “Out here with no land in sight it all looks the same.”
I said, “It is.”
When the fog turned to drizzle the yin twin disappeared under a pile of smelly blankets several feet high. I did not reveal that the smell mostly came from me. Before falling back to sleep, she said, “Wake me when we get there.”
I also did not reveal to her that after more attempts than I could ever attempt to define or remember I had yet to discover a there there. Relativity depends on point of view as much as variable velocity and uncertain mass. Sort of. As nearly a teenager looking forward, not back, she had lots of precious sleep to catch up on. Mere words strung tritely together that constitute one of those hackneyed phrases so popular among pedants and taskmasters would be better left unsaid until a later date. She knew that she would never encounter a task originating from me that could not be profitably ignored, without cost, wholesale.
Nor did I wake her when I at first spotted the four baby whales that began to give me so much hope. Four baby whales had to be some sort of sign, right? Or more than sort of. They did not seem to acknowledge me in any way but I was not discouraged. I strove to control the quaking in my nervous region of central perplexity. Guts churned but stayed put, temporarily. Then, I puked cleanly over the side once again. Or close enough. Sort of.
Nor did I mean to wake the yin twin when I began to wriggle until my wet suit. She was sleeping on the pile of plastic bags that usually fit over my extremities to assist my awkward squirming into the tight fit. Sort of. But when I crashed into an untethered gaff that knocked over a loose, barbed pole that smashed a formerly lovely bottle of brown beer, I did.
Groggily, she said, “Where are we?”
I said, “I’ll be right back. ”
There was no time to explain. There was no time to wonder about the intriguing reasons why, or why not. The multiverse just keeps on keeping on, no beginning, no end. I wasn’t late, exactly, but close. Sort of. I figured I could figure it out later.
I jumped into the ocean and made a very small splash on the surface. It seemed big to me but I was forced to think, and not for the first time, what the fuck? The water reached nearly a mile below me in depth. Does consciousness only rise higher along with altitude or depth as well?
I quickly found myself dropping below any level of standard assumptions. It was not a choice. Sort of. I proceeded deeper with all the due caution to be expected from a lifelong learner. I felt no pressure to perform except for the nagging imperative to breathe non-stop. I think that might have been where I made a wrong turn, sort of, though it seemed to me that my mere myopia did not matter that deep. Otherwise, my vision appeared astonishingly clear. I saw azure and cerulean and teal and coral. I saw many eyes swimming at me from many angles, though none were whales. Do eyes by necessity need to be attached to bodies? I’m sure I would have been able to recognize a whale. The eyes were floating effortlessly, as was I. I saw skin become shedded by skeletons, barnacles cut loose. There was no left or right that seemed to hold sway so I went deeper, longer, looking for a free pass of the hail Mary variety. Unless that consciousness that was rising became too high and getting lost was my contribution to mass marketed illusion. I felt as if I was finally seeing the earth as it was, gooey, stretched, melting, writhing. I thought as expected, whoa, fucking whoa. What more is there to say with no words when no words are the right tool for the job?
The next words in the next language I heard, “Gbluhhgg,” sounded about right to me. Sort of. After that, the light was bright, though still dense, and resonant, and I heard if not bells a clang, and I puked again which made a great difference in the non-multiversal small size world I still inhabited in a tiny but good way, though not over the side. The yin twin was there, too.
She said, “Eww.”
I said, “Don’t worry, I’ll clean that up.”