BAHAMAS: PROJECT DOLPHIN.
Using only snorkel equipment, we will dive and glide with pods of free-swimming dolphins who seem to enjoy human companionship . . .
No special skills or experience required.
Flipper was cute, but could he save the planet? To believe required some personal ferment. This latest time I was fumbling to set a clock radio in the dark and wound up breaking up with my girlfriend. She said, “The button is right there!”
"For God’s sake, let me sleep.”
“I just need the light on for a second.”
“Why are you doing this to me?”
“Why are you doing this to me?”
--while far away, I knew, dolphins quietly, anciently, tossed. Maybe even a little sorrowfully. It was hard to tell.
The great genius of other sentient species-- all but our own--is to bubble along at the periphery of strife: Civilization isn’t their fault. This makes dolphins look even more sentient than they would otherwise, and a little smug, like David Brinkley. I can pinpoint, to the month and year, all my past fixations with mystical animal quiet; they followed mighty attempts at communication with humans. For a few weeks in my twenties, my dream life was filled with images of amphibians--briefly, but with such intimate force that the whole fantasy seemed like a fresh, pink self inside a crusty old self, and it seemed to dart from the light, which came shining through a crack in a rock. This was in the dim of winter. I had tobacco-stained walls and a card table as a desk, and I felt cold from fear of feeling cold. My life felt like a bear suit.
In 1982, I labeled a series of notebooks “Cetacia.” They were aquamarine, and they contained fetishistic passages about an island girl who showered on shoals and whose hair was so wild you could hear it thicken in the steam.
Last winter, I saw White Fang--twice--a film I’d have shunned as a twelve-year-old, because I had no use at twelve for courage in the wild or for finding out who I really was down deep. Twenty years later I was reading both Thomas Merton and Call of the Wild, hoping to meet God in the Very Ground of My Being. I don’t know if I met God. Random encounters with dogs felt more poised on the brink of infinity than usual.
One of the participants on the Expedition--there were eight of us--told me dolphins regularly spoke to her. In English, specifically, and not just in her dreams. An example of something they told her was “Stop creating money as a distraction.” It makes the case for dolphin telepathy a little tidy, of course, that the things dolphins are quoted as saying are always the things you would tell yourself if you had the courage; in the presence of a willing-enough conscience, redwood trees speak pretty fair English, too. But I liked the personal-adviser angle. I had in mind a dolphin closer to me than I was to myself, what people would be without the curse of opposable thumbs: puppetlike, sublime, knowing all the eternal truths I knew in my cells but had managed to forget, in my puzzling drive to deplete the world’s oil resources. And I could bolster this fantasy with facts. Brain size to body mass: Dolphins were highest. Abstract thinking: Dolphins had been taught, in a breakthrough experiment, not only a repertoire of tricks but a special category of trick that meant “invent a new trick.” They could distinguish the genre from the noun. They were sanguine and gregarious and, since 1847, they’d cooperated in a quid pro quo with Brazilian fishermen, herding mullet fish into nets for the privilege of feeding on the overflow. On the flight to Florida I held to these truths like bouquets. If dolphins looked like they were winking cosmic reassurances to humans across eternity, it seemed good to believe that they were, and to wink back. Even if when you looked closely both sides turned out to be bluffing, and nobody knew anything really, and the dolphins were swimming straight into a cloud of sea lice, and the waters were laced with the usual doubt.
Night one. Sprawled about the deck, we squinted at a slide show of the regulars. Close-ups: smooth bodies, corona-like noses, drive-by grins. Group shots: puckered tails, traffic jams, a spilled shipment of cigars. “I’d like to know,” said participant Dave, “do they identify us? Do they say, ‘I know that gal from last year’?” Dave was a nice-guy jabberer from New Jersey, a heart patient, filling Dixie cups of wine on doctor’s orders. His wife, Gail, was all gutsy good cheer, walking the tipsy deck like a talk-show host and tying thought-provoking ribbons at the ends of conversations.
“I think they do,” answered the scientist, Pamela Byrnes. “And I’ve been in situations where common dolphins--I saw this many times, in the Sea of Cortes--will porpoise out of the water and actually turn in midair, tip, and look into the boat. It’s as if they’re saying, ‘What kind of boat is this? Are these guys gonna harass us?’ And with us, they decided to bow-ride along with the boat. I don’t know if they would have decided any differently if we’d been standing there with big spears or something.”
She clicked to the next slide. “Now, traditionally,” Byrnes said, “to find out what a wild dolphin does, people have looked at the animals from this view.” The view was from on deck, looking down. “But to find out how they live in their natural state, you really need to get out in the ocean.”
That was a more sporting arrangement than my original plan. My original plan had been to get to know one dolphin in a pen. Slowly at first, evolving into fierce boyhood loyalty over time. It may never have worked, plus it required a captive dolphin, an inequity that might foster hidden resentments down the road. More than 50 percent of dolphins in captivity develop stomach ulcers, permafixed smiles notwithstanding--a statistic I heard repeatedly broadcast by activists in Florida, where the debate over captivity seemed to be entering extra innings. Conservationists printed up T-shirts showing a dolphin wearing a ball and chain. The president of a Fort Lauderdale theme park supplied the swelling testimony, “If I died and came back as dolphin, I’d want to be right here at Ocean World.”
The environmentally correct way to swim with wild dolphins is passively, hands behind your back (wild dolphins “don’t understand arms,” the Oceanic Society told me), inconspicuously, apologetically if you can possibly manage it--a pantomime of underwater life. In glass-clear water at the shore of Grand Bahama island, Byrnes had run everyone through last-minute snorkel education, stressing peripheral vision. A snorkeler chugged along and Byrnes would play the dolphin, hovering just behind, right in the blind spot. “You just missed your encounter!” she’d triumph then, cracking air. We all futzed with our fogged masks, pondering excuses.
Somewhere the fear lurked: Could you really ruin an encounter--maybe all your encounters, one after another for eight days--by bad ocean etiquette, a thoughtlessly exposed forearm, poor rearview vision? It would seem like a shame, and not very charitable on the dolphins’ part. I felt that rush of indignation in advance of rejection (we were children of the universe--we might be worth getting to know). Simultaneously I consoled myself that the odds might be with us after all. Whereas previous expeditions included an eighty-year-old woman who couldn’t swim, ours had no obvious liabilities. We had, by pure coincidence, two women with dolphin ankle tattoos. One was a Santa Barbara firefighter, and she swam underwater with a powerful dolphin kick, flinging ocean leagues behind her. The other was a Berkeley student from LA, leonine and completely ingenuous. (On meeting a participant from Hummelstown, Pennsylvania, she gasped: “There’s really a city called Homeless Town?”) And all of our brows were already blown vacant and gentle by the soft Bahamian unreality, so we were nicer than we normally would have been, which I think was nice to begin with.
Compared with dolphin niceness, of course, ours looked like a smudge on a torquoise glossy, and we mostly knew it. The spotted dolphins of Little Bahama Bank, in particular--the species we’d be encountering--had seemed to glide uncorrupted through fate. In form and gesture they seemed so streamlined (one photo I saw of two calves touching pectoral fins together was as symbolic and symmetrical as a weathervane) that it was hard to remember they were animals and not, say, emblems. Once in a while, predators tore dime-sized bites from their sides and then fled, like vandals. With humans, the history had been split: no underwater contact for centuries, and then waves of playmates beginning in 1972, when treasure divers exploring a 17th-Century Spanish galleon swam around with the dolphins on breaks.
Afterward came bands of scientists. And idealistic volunteers. To enter into the pact those two dolphins seemed to offer in the photo--pecs touching, wall-eyes cast backward at the camera, naked, like John and Yoko--that was the great aquarian hope. You could lie there on deck and prophesize it: a global future, the dolphin-human community (as the New Age was calling it), a vision of amnesty and virginity (John and Yoko, again!); none of the old mistakes counted. Of course, you’d be making fresh, new mistakes in a short while. Though on the boat, drugged by the rhythm of the swells, that worry seemed absurdly remote, impossible to rouse, like a lost appendage.
Little Bahama Bank qualified as frontier for scientific purposes too. Most earlier dolphin research had been on captives and stranded loners. Until lately, there hadn’t been a counterpart to Fossey’s gorillas or Goodall’s chimps. Enter the spotted dolphins, a population of about 200, with their social order still intact. Eighty-six individual dolphins with names like Blaze and Macho and Zen had been photo-ID’d from an avalanche of snapshots. Byrnes now fantasized solving certain harder questions. Did the spotteds really time-share their turf with the bottle-nosed? Did they venture into hostile deep waters to feed? Did they use their echolocation (radarlike clickings and groanings) to stun their prey? This last was a burning mystery. It was generally agreed that dolphins can stun their prey (in a kind of deep sea Ella-versus-Memorex experiment, tape recordings of echolocation had successfully zapped the daylights out of little fish); still it was hard to get dolphins to use their special power. Attempts had gone like this: Scientist places fish in front of dolphin and sets up elaborate acoustical detectors; dolphin looks at fish and impressive equipment; dolphin eats fish.
Lastly all eight of us might learn important things by living together in a contained environment. “You know, Pamela,” remarked Gail, rising to speak, “something was touched on a little while ago about living together in a contained environment. Well, there was an article in The New York Times about a man who’d gone white-water rafting. And one thing resulted from that trip. He said he’d never really been able before to share certain parts of himself--” She cradled her solar plexus like a baby, “--that he kinda kept inward. Well, on this rafting trip, he said that he truly opened up, and that was the most enriching part of his trip.”
Byrnes nodded. “I see that a lot as trip leader. Because you’re living in the moment; you’re so there. The waves, the wind, the sun. You’re just living life, and there’s really a lot to say for that. Sometimes it brings you back to a feeling of ‘Maybe this is what life is all about.’”
“It’ll be interesting to see what’s in it for all of us,” Gail said.
That night, drifting to sleep, I was nearly “there” a couple of times--there meaning everywhere and nowhere, one with the big blue; living life, never getting in the way of my own encounter. And then I’d catch myself and hear my own thoughts and the rest of us talking, people on a boat in the middle of the ocean poring over photos of the ocean.
The first two visits were false starts. High noon, nine hours from land, nothingness surrounding, nothing mattering finally, as if we’d severed the cord to Time.
From some seam at the back of all this stillness registered one tiny, distant leap. Just like that, a signature, and then nothing--glassy torquoise. Seconds later, a closer, slightly larger charm bracelet of a leap, and someone screamed THEY’RE COMING TO THE BOAT! and we piled into the water, torn between elbowing past each other and acting polite (what would the dolphins think of all our competitiveness?), but once underwater saw only each other and each other’s cameras and each other’s daffy fins strolling by. So we climbed back on board.
For what seemed like a long time I kept my mask on and stood dripping, looking along the deck now and then for somebody to tell me to relax. The water looked different now. The boat was oddly quiet. I panicked: The whole team was communing with dolphins on the other side of the boat, and they’d left me here. But that was just paranoia.
We made a next charge at empty water. Two silvery blurs, a mother and her calf, plain outraced four of us hydroplaning in a rubber Zodiac. But the mother whipped herself at the calf, who doubled back to run rings around the raft, squibbing beneath like mercury shot from a tube. Byrnes killed the motor. “Let’s get a couple of you in there.”
“Here we go,” Gail said. “Here we go to do the thing we all came to do.”
Clumsy formalities, trying to get a body off a rubber boat and into water. We held our masks to our faces and rolled overboard, like corpses.
Bubbles cleared. The sandy bottom was maybe thirty feet down, a rippled dune. Human legs waved in the current, cameras dangling. No dolphins.
Back in the boat, nostrils filling with adventure, we relived the experience.
“Did you see the mother tail-kick that calf into line?” someone said.
“Pretty curious little guy,” Brian said. Brian was a sandy-haired computer scientist from Silicon Valley.
“His mom put a stop to that, though!”
“They do that a lot, I understand.”
“It’s amazing they’d come anywhere near us at all, with the motor making that kind of racket.”
“Well, not really,” I said. “I mean, they probably know all about motors by now, and how close in is safe.”
“They sure were in a hurry.”
“Yeah. I think this is their feeding time. They prefer to play when they’re done feeding.”
Byrnes said, “Last year they came regularly in the mornings.”
“Boy, they came right to the boat this afternoon, didn’t they?”
“Well, they know the hull, what it sounds like, with their echolocation.”
“I think they were just saying hi. And letting us know they were here, and that they’d be back later.”
“Yeah--I think you’re right.”
By nightfall I felt almost pleased with the missed encounter. Something peculiar about group failure made it feel sheltering, intellectually manageable, like geeky high-school horniness, or mob bigotry. We’d held up our end of the rendezvous, and now we could philosophize about it, and no alien variable had to enter the discussion. Meanwhile, we could proclaim that technically, we’d been open to alien input all along. Thus we had short-circuited the unforeseen. But it was an ingrown, high-school sort of victory--it meant you didn’t leave the dance with anything better than what you came with, ever--and I slept uneasily on my side with my back to the cabin, like the dolphins were all standing there waiting for me to stop being such an idiot. At seven a.m., Gail called out, “Brian and Alan! You’re missing the encounter!”
A narcoleptic stumble to the stern, ending in a peculiar protocol: fall in the water, search for your camera, then wake up. I dropped through some fishnets of foam and looked all around. I saw the rippled sand. A few small barracuda cruising low. A starfish. The hull of the boat. At the waterline I whipped my neck around, bewildered. New Jersey Dave was pointing from on deck: “The other side of the boat!”
When I got there, about eight flukes were slicing away like bats. The faster I swam the farther away they got. Finally they vanished in the blue.
I puttered back to the ladder in disgrace. New Jersey Dave was pointing from on deck, smiling this time. “You’ve been followed,” he said.
My strategy underwater was to Be Myself. There is a song by Suzanne Vega that goes, I think, “If you were to kill me now right here I would still look you in the eye.” That approached the level of earnestness I was after. I dove down and glided around, wearing a facial expression that implied the sum of my life and everything I’d ever done, from the clock-radio incident on back. Immediately I sensed it beside me--the wide gleaming fuselage of an older spotted dolphin. I flanked him; he flanked me. I thought: Here we are. And I was more than willing to float there in place and resonate together as one, but the gap between us started to close in the current--I was about to bash into him! I freed one arm to straighten myself out, and he raced away.
I looked around underwater. No one had seemed to notice the arm violation. There were other dolphins in small groups. At the surface, three of them cruised like a side car, veering and twirling in formation. At the bottom, two stood on their noses, taking turns pushing a shrub along the sand. I headed toward the twosome--competently, yet still capable of emotional vulnerability--but I couldn’t get all the way down, on account of ear pressure. It didn’t matter. I was having a good time. I said it, through my snorkel: We’re having a good time! I also said “chick-a-chick-a-chick-a” and “Here, dolphin!” The first noise brought one dolphin zoom-lensing to my face, eyeball to eyeball, scaring me to death; then that dolphin rolled over and swam away under the boat.
More bluish images, some chaotic, all surreal. Groups of dolphins surfacing for air in unison, stone-pony style. Long, baptismal, rhythmic sighs, a half-beat slower than your heart. At the outskirts of the action, people dangled, fins twitching, bodies strobed by reflected sun. Ending always in a smooth dolphin exit, taillights vanishing.
My first dolphin had been “TS,” a female known by a deep gash on the tail stock. In the sonic, indecent heat we all rubbed our arms dry and compared notes. Some of us had seen more dolphins than others. (Estimates ranged between nine and twelve.) Some remembered everything, like intelligence agents, and others had gone brainless in the excitement. Some had cleared their ears well in the water and some had not, a subtle division forming. I had a foot in both camps--one day I couldn’t clear, and the next day I could. Not that I was sure which group was the actual elite. It was assumed, at first, that the dolphins preferred the deeper swimmers. But a backlash was forming, to the effect that the remedial people, who just drifted around on the surface, were actually getting the most dolphin minutes.
The trouble was that we kept swimming at dolphins, later to wonder if we’d really been with them at all, and to stare at the sea, which was blank and remembered nothing. When the dolphins did arrive--four times in the next 24 hours--they seemed strangely to have been there all along, or they just materialized, like ghost-riders, double-exposing the water. “I think it’s an illusion,” I said. “When you go underwater, you’re in the same place you were, but you’re also someplace new, and your mind doesn’t know how to handle that.”
Lori the firefighter shrugged politely and held to her own theory, which centered on alpha waves: dolphins lived in an alpha state; when you were with them, you rejoined their strange frequency. This theory carried some weight, because Lori had had dolphin visions all her life--3-D flashes, eidetic as statuary, always sharper and closer than the scene you thought you’d been living in. She might be swimming at the Y; suddenly the lanes would be swarming.
In any case, when you got out of the water--liquid, sapped, dazed--the whole experience would start to evaporate like the saltwater on your shoulders, and pretty soon you would start to feel dry of it. And because dolphins were wonderful, you wanted to remember whatever truth it was that you felt in their presence. Which you couldn’t put into words yet, for alpha-wave reasons. But maybe later.
The desire to commune with dolphins could take on a certain me-first hysteria. Musical taste was a common battleground. An earlier expedition sank its hopes on playing a lot of Miami dance music, and saw almost no dolphins for a week. On our trip, dolphins appeared right in the middle of “I’m Still in Love With You,” by Al Green. Most of the week the captain’s sound system beeped out celestial, New Age music, during which I have to imagine the dolphins were stampeding towards Bermuda, if only to escape the stereotype. At night we watched a video of musicians plucking out Morse-code guitar into amplifiers underwater--the tune bordered gimpily on Deliverance--and baby-talking into hydrophones: “Hel-lo, dolphin! Do you want to play?” It was a voice that plainly envied the balloon rubbings of real dolphin language, which squeakings, when they arose, had the announcer close to incontinent. “Listen to the excitement! This dolphin defecates from excitement!” (Defecation was a rusty cloud.)
The production ended with a musical dialogue, in which humans had the inferior lines:
HUMAN: I want to be a dolphin!/ And laugh and play all day!
DOLPHIN: I want to be a human! / And find out why they act that way!/ I’ll find out why they fuss and fight!/ I’ll lead them back to the light!
One day, somewhere less than all the way back to the light, two smooth characters from a hated cruise ship--they’d been spoiling our horizon--came over in a Zodiac to ask if we’d seen any dolphins. “We’re from the Cousteau Society,” one of them said. I watched in blank apprehension, as though they were on TV; it seemed not to have occurred to me that the question awaited an answer. In fact, nobody answered; we all sat there slack-jawed, parentless, Lori and Lillian and Kay, a pale attorney from Kansas, and Andrea from Hummelstown, sunning with her eyes closed, and Brian contemplating a soda can, and Nancy from Santa Fe holding a sun hat in place with one hand and stretching her toes. Thoughts like “Intruders. I don’t like them” and “Are they real?” reverberated a long time in dolphin alpha-wave literalness until finally the captain emerged. “These boats have an agreement not to come within a half mile of each other,” he said, glaring. “It’s a big ocean.”
“Those guys are ruining it here,” someone whispered later. “I really noticed a bad energy. I think the dolphins prefer us because we don’t chase them.”
And yet we did chase them. I’d had my first true dolphin encounter, after all, only when I paused long enough from chasing that they could follow me to the boat. Which seemed a simple enough dolphin lesson, but humiliating. It meant that your agenda was your own worst enemy, a kind of curse, and you carried it with you everywhere, the ball never leaving your court.
When dolphins answer people’s questions, they sometimes overanswer, making you feel stupid for asking. Or they swim right through your question to something more relevant, often food. In 1986 scientists lowered speakers in mid-ocean to see if low-frequency sounds would attract sharks, an experiment that ended when sharks ate the speakers. “They’re telling us to stop asking questions and listen,” a crew member said. “If you listen, you’ll find out how to change the world.” (“Change the world” was a phrase she used like a tarot card; it covered any creative labor.)
Swimming with dolphins “changed my life,” read one letter in the Project Dolphin Newsletter. Were our own lives changed yet? We weren’t sure. We had tans. In the tanning area of life we were very changed. Lillian said she was going to study whatever she wanted when she got back to Berkeley and let the uptight business majors hang themselves. I promised Kay from Kansas City that I’d go to the beach more often, and maybe even move to Santa Barbara, writing down “Santa Barbara” in my notepad, so the epiphany would survive the trip home.
It was about this time, the fourth day, that we hit upon our “Pod Plan.” On the local rumor that dolphins were attracted to creatures who swam communally, in formation, the eight of us were going to organize into a pod, hold hands, and float across the swells, a giant human quilt. And we were all set to try this out when the captain’s wife ate a bowl of conch stew and collapsed allergically, and we had to make an emergency crossing back to land, possibly for good.
New Jersey Dave stood over his big canvas bag and leaned on his hands to push down a freshly folded towel. He had on long pants, a polo shirt, and dock shoes, and he was licking his lips. Everyone half-stared at him. He looked like a completely different person on land.
Gail was moving across the dock to the public showers, carrying a hairbrush and a small bath bag. Up to that point we’d been bathing in the sea. Dip, climb out and lather, dip again.
Dave looked up at the sky, then at the captain. “How is the patient?” he said suddenly. It looked like it wasn’t what he meant to say originally.
“Well, she’s steadier. I think she’s probably a little scared. We’re going to run her into town, and we won’t know much until then.”
Dave nodded slowly. He looked at the sky again. “This cab driver you told us about--Mr. Shark? He charges ten dollars a head to Freeport?”
“Sharp,” Dave repeated, tapping his foot. “Mr. Sharp.” He did a nervous scat: “Sharp, Shark, Sha-hoooo.”
Gail disappeared into the showers.
“I think what we will do,” Dave said, “is get a room in Freeport and look into seeing some of the other islands. Unless . . . I guess there’s no way of us finding out if you’re going back to the dolphin site tomorrow.”
Byrnes said, “You can call the marina here. Leave a message, and we’ll let you know if we’re going back.”
But they never called. Lori said, “I knew they wouldn’t. You could tell.”
I asked her if she thought we were going to have any more dolphin encounters.
“Oh, yeah. I know we are.” She had a big firefighter’s voice, a voice full of hormones.
I asked how she knew, and she said it was something she could tell when we were headed back for land and four dolphins rode the bow to send us off.
That night I fiddled with a portable radio and accidentally found the “NBA Radio Network,” on which LA was eliminating Portland from the Western Conference Finals. An obscure announcer howled through a blizzard of static. I rooted for the Lakers and then afterward felt blood-gorged, as if I’d eaten beef for the first time in a month. The worldly event felt redundant, a closed system, a culture relevant only to itself.
Maybe it was a culture afraid of losing its job as a culture--afraid of people finding out that the security they worried about was a substitute all along for the real security they’d been born with. And everyone should come swim with dolphins and find this out for himself. The Bahamas could then be the new Haight-Ashbury, but much more expensive to fly to.
Lori had guessed right: The captain’s wife was doing well and recovering in the care of some neighbors. That meant we would return to the dolphin site, and we might yet have the Ultimate Encounter. Not that I felt shortchanged by my earlier ones. For the next day and a half we had lots more like those: goofy, ecstatic, halftime spectacles where everyone, human and dolphin, swirled around one another, wondering how we all looked, playing this new game. TS was there a lot. Mothers brought calves with white-haloed bellies and bills like ball caps, smooth foreheads demurring in the hypnotic traffic.
But I wasn’t sure I’d had any one moment of unmistakable connection, and each encounter ended early--abruptly, it seemed to me. I’d climb out of the water and demand to know what happened to our Pod Plan. People plain forgot themselves, was what happened. Kay and I would float near the ladder, reaching for other hands that never came. We’d remind each other no violent splashes, and then someone would yell “Dolphin!” and cannonball off the stern. Lillian sat jackknifed on the bow sprit, holding one knee, swearing she’d be mellow next time. Next time, a pair of dolphins swam right underneath, and she just about pounced on their backs. I tried to make her feel guilty about this, and succeeded, though later everyone’s photos proved she was more popular with the dolphins than anybody.
Finally, one day--the last day--an encounter began the same as all the others but ended differently. There were about ten dolphins and a handful of snorkelers in the water. TS was gliding at the fringe.
Suddenly, all the other dolphins just seemed to vanish, like the extras on the dance floor in West Side Story when Tony saw Maria. We weren’t facing each other, TS and I--we were parallel. But the distance between us steadily telescoped, and while I thought warmly how nice it was to see TS one last time, her smile started to open. Like a crocodile’s. Slowly at first, then enormously, a monstrous, photogenic laugh, which I returned--I had reached my Nirvana--and at that precise instant the water turned cloudy. My God, I whispered. TS has defecated with excitement.
It unfolds that TS was barfing.
Specifically, TS barfed up a squid pen--a special event in itself, at least to Pamela Byrnes, because it suggested strongly that the spotteds do feed in deep waters. And it wasn’t TS after all, but someone who reminded me of TS. Anyway, I enjoyed myself.
The spell of the dolphin expedition lasted exactly three days, a period during which the floor of my apartment rolled like waves, and police sirens sounded as if they were many, many doors away.
Lillian tried to deny she was back in LA by going swimming in her pool with all her snorkel gear on.
Lori sent me a letter: “Don’t procrastinate. The dolphins have things they want to tell the masses, and you are a vehicle.” She misspelled Edgeware Road, my street, and it came out “Edgewater.”
The day the floor stopped moving, I was conscious of it having stopped. I looked at the floor, and it was just like a floor. It was very unhypnotic. The thought that glided by was: These are the last seconds of knowing there’s nothing in the world to worry about. And the next thought was: What did I mean by that?