Missing Seals, Beached Jellyfish

Down at the piers, looking out at the water (like always). Actually no, looking down at the water. Looking at a jellyfish, mindless. My eyes follow two grey masses beneath the water. They come from under the pier, move out into the water without breaking the surface. I flinch, and point, saying, “Seals.” The tourists around me don’t hear. That’s for the best, I have nothing else to say about it.

Free association takes my mind to the Isle of Skye. Stepping around the blobs (Freudian slip, I first typed “blogs”) of goo on the pebble shore, beached jellyfish at low tide. Caught in the small backpacker orbit. Every time I went anywhere I passed the same young German couple walking the other way, we avoided each others gaze. The trio of Australians. The German girl that I’d met somewhere else, days before, she answers my, “Hi. How are you?” with quick textbook English, “Fine, thanks. And you?” The fishing boat that we packed into. The local kids buzzing past us in their motorboat, their boom box blasting heavy metal, catching more fish than us. The fisherman steers us out to watch seals, it’s gotten dark and we can’t see much. The fisherman, later, has me pegged, “You’re traveling alone.” The French-Canadian girl with the crooked teeth who I talked to at the pub.

Back home, today, here, in Seattle. I find my notebook from that trip and check when I was there – August 12-15. My last day on the Isle of Skye, two years ago exactly.

August 14, 2000
A car makes a U-turn, the headlights illuminate waves in the water. The spot remains lit after the car is gone – a light in a window has been turned on. A shade is drawn and the water is extinguished.

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