by Rosa Shipley
I would love for you to tell me if attention is so nourishing for everyone, or just for me. Do you like attention? How much, from who?
If someone called you on your birthday, what is the protocol? Do you call them back? I asked and was told no, and I was ashamed that I had called back. Why did I do that?
I want you to think about the otherworldly things that exist, the miraculous ones. Rock salt, which is that tan and rusty pink. Trendy right now, but having existed forever.
Ginger, and lavender, that cheese is mold and that wine is rot.
I always say that I don’t like birds because they are like small, bony dinosaurs. I now realize that it is amazing that they’re like small and bony dinosaurs.
But my favorite thing to marvel at are sand dollars. Do you know what sand dollars are? Stars in sand, borne of the sea.
I haven’t been able to cry in a really long time. Each time I think that the moment has come, my body anticipates a sweet jolting shift. But it is dry, like a heave, and I am puzzled at myself. Come on, I think. But there is nothing to be done. The tears just aren’t there.
I wonder if they’re stored up and blocked. I also wonder if my body is telling me that I need to spend less time on things that should make me cry, maybe because they won’t.
Instead, I take baths.
It is winter, and it has been for a long time, since I’ve walked more on my own and since I got my sea legs.
Smell the salts, lie in the water, try to make my body turn pink. I count my freckles.
I had a funny experience in the water when I was in Hawaii once. My dad and my brother love to play in the rough waves, to swim far out and get swept. I think that what thrills and soothes them was too rough for me. I was ashamed for feeling that way; I want to be tough.
In the warm salt, I got slammed and jolted. It felt too much. I climbed out of the water towards the beach, and lay down in the sand sun.
Later, the boys teased me because they thought that I didn’t like the ocean, that I didn’t have a weathered taste for it.
In my mind, this is what I said:
The water is my friend. I like to keep our relationship nourishing, and to be gentle.
The boys thought that I walked out of the water to lie on the beach because I didn’t have a taste for the ocean.
On the contrary, I knew: it was because I loved it.
Now I am Going to Tell You Something
by Rosa Shipley
Now I am going to tell you something.
Now I am going to tell you what I am trying to be like: water.
Now I am going to tell you something sad: last week, I took a Lyft from East Brooklyn towards the park. The driver was sweet but morose, and he told me that he is a bad luck person. That he started driving out of desperation. That he can’t pay off his car because last month he got in a crash on his way to a friend’s funeral. Bad luck. Then he got abused in his car, and the abuser punched himself in the face in order to make it look like the driver did it. Bad luck. Then he tried to kill himself, bad luck. Then he got cancer, bad luck. The trouble with bad luck is that there’s not much to be done.
Now I am going to tell you something beautiful: one time, I went camping in southeastern Utah when I was 16, in the Canyonlands, and we ended up pitching tent in this frozen winter region in an area that looked so warm because the sand and rock were rusty-colored. There’s a picture of me, from then, when we stayed on the plateau. And my face looks like an old woman’s. Beautiful.
Now I am going to tell you something scary: I feel pain acutely now. I feel hypersensitive to aches and fatigue. I get sore and sometimes it feels like not everything is working exactly right. How will I feel when I’m old? A lot worse, I bet. Scary.
Now I am going to tell you something sweet: my grandmother, who as a young mother was not so nice, kind of a difficult person, and then had an eccentric mid-life spiritual awakening, she clears my energy whenever I see her. I don’t know if I believe in it, but it always feels really nice.
Now I am going to tell you what I hope you dream about at night: whatever the heck is in your mind that can be stretched and smushed in a way that isn’t frightening, but can be edifying even if you can’t quite put your finger on why it is or what it reminds you of. I still remember a dream I had as a six-year old when I dreamt I woke up to a golden retriever. It was very, very realistic, it was very exciting in the dream, and it was very sad to wake up. I really hope that you don’t have a nighttime dream like that.
Now I am going to tell you what I hope you dream about in the daytime: making fun plans, imagining, remembering parts of movies, remembering parts of books, remembering parts of songs, thinking about what you want to say, and thinking about what you would like to be.
Now I am going to tell you something that I think is stupid: road rage, and fully discounting what cannot be seen.
Now I am going to tell you something I think is smart: asking lots of questions, lots of questions, paying attention to food.
Now I am going to tell you my favorite thing to think about: that which warms up my hands and toes after I rise, figuring out what does it, figuring out how they get so nice and warm when they do.
Rosa, obsessed with the sensory, is a writer, sound artist, and cook. Follow her on Instagram @r0ssssa