days the color of a monkeyface eel

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Unsure why this is currently rotting in the sun, but life is full of mysteries! (Picture does not accurately capture the flies or the smell. You’re welcome.)

A week and a half ago we asked our boss if we could purchase 1,000 carrion beetles. My coworker had found a monkeyface prickleback carcass and was interested in harvesting the delicate bones. Obviously, beetles were the way to go.

That was a week and a half ago, but it feels like a different epoch. It is hard to write about what’s happened since. Not because the summation is difficult but because words feel inadequate. Because clustering syllables and letters together into neat little phrases removes all the sinew and splinters from the past week. And I need you to feel the color of it all. I need you to taste the scent.

Here’s what life feels like now: you’re in the ocean and a wave comes out of nowhere. One moment you are above and there is sun, and the next you’re below in a water world, and you’re tumbling head over feet, head over feet, and you lose all sense of direction, of what is up, and you know you’ll surface soon, you know this is only temporary, but god, your lungs hurt and you are panicking, and you are this small, fragile creature in a whirlwind of water and everything is a million shades of blue.

That’s what this feels like.

Camp is empty now. The kids have been gone for weeks. Full-time staff are now working from home. And us, the seasonal crew, we are peeling off one-by-one, like bark from a eucalyptus tree. An abandonment both sudden and slow. That’s what this feels like.

I have gotten very good at goodbyes these past couple of years. Goodbye dinners, goodbye hugs, goodbye letters. Even for the messier seasons there has always been closure. But it’s different now. Now it feels like I just got dumped with no warning, and all sense of closure is lodged in my throat, feelings leaking out like a poorly corked bottle. What do I do with all this future dripping from my hands? These plans, these hopes, these wild dreams? Where do I go from here? What happens next?

It is easy to be melancholy and sad these days. It is easy to tell you that the monkeyface prickleback is sealed in a ziploc bag, festering in the sun, and that we have no carrion beetles to remove the flesh, and that it will probably stay in that bag on the ground for a long time. It is easy to be heavy handed with the metaphors.

And these days, sometimes everything feels like monkeyface prickleback rot. But not always. Some moments it is watching dolphins at sunset from our own back porch or singing happy birthday as someone plays the accordion. Sometimes it is Spam musubi and coffeechocolatehoney crepes and lavender plucked from outside the dining hall. It is sea anemones that still curl inward when I poke them and will never do otherwise. It is all that and more. And those moments of beauty, of community, of resilience are there if you are looking. Because there is always hope and light for those who search.

I hope you too are finding the sun.

One thought on “days the color of a monkeyface eel

  1. You have such a way with words. “All sense of closure lodged in my throat…”. Turns out there are words to describe the indescribable, at least for you.

    My fave from a Times reader,” My world may have flipped, but my priorities are falling back in order.”

    Like

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