Sep 9, 2006

DONKEY SCHLONG AND THE CONCH SHACKS
SEATTLE, Washington: En route to the airport, the bus trundles past the Scuba School, where I completed my confined-dive exams this week.

Now I'm off. To Honduras and open water.

(Do the sheltered Bay Islands even count?)

My face blossoms open like a sea anemone: radiant, expansive. Strangers smile and chatter. I redeye to Miami.

No, wait, I bounce through Houston. Or somewhere that disrupts my sleep. I don't recall and it doesn't much matter.

Honduras and open water. I've dreamt of this for decades.

My first-ever trip outside the continental U.S. – aged nine – was to the Virgin Islands. I ran into my music teacher on a St John beach; somewhat unsettling 1,800 miles from home. And I saw a donkey unfurl its schlong, which dragged in the dirt.

Haunting stuff, there in the mangrove swamp.

For the first time, I stepped outside my comfort zone. Jungle, not lawn. Corrugated tin, rather than Cape Cod shingles. Conch shacks instead of Papa Gino's.

The island cats all had chronic coughs from eating lizards. The tails wedged in their throats. Or something. This was before the Era of Obsessive Notes. The kitties hacked in the tropical shrubbery. Soda pop and seashells topped the hit parade. I bodysurfed ten hours a day.

Life was good.

And the book I read was Paul Theroux's Mosquito Coast. My father had pressed the paperback into my hands at the outbound airport.

The manic flow of language and adventure swept me away.

Now, at last, I'm fully in its flow, headed for Honduras and open water.

4 comments:

  1. Exciting stuff. Well, not the part about the "donkey schlong" but the rest of it. Not that I ever read it, but Mosquito Coast is kind of a tough read for 9-year old, isn't it? No wonder you're such a good writer.

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  2. Ah, those were my geek-girl days. I was not only precocious, but pretentious, attempting to read Shakespeare in fourth grade (“Mosquito Coast” worked – the narrator is, after all, a child – but “Midsummer’s Night Dream” did not).

    Now I’m happily regressing.

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  3. Anonymous11:27 PM

    Don't sell yourself short, Ax – there's still pretension aplenty!

    No, not really. For the intellectual elite, you're pretty down to earth...

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  4. Gosh, thanks, I think...

    Now excuse me, I some mouth-breathing to accomplish before finger-puppet practice.

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