I am on retreat and taking performance workshops. I sleep in a building that sits by a rocky beach along a large body of water. A fence runs along the beach and marks the retreat’s property. I can still see a beautiful beachscape on my walk to the workshops.
In the practice space, we end the session with a bit of physical improv. I sit on the floor and sip an imaginary bowl of soup. I eventually make loud sipping noises. We take a break for lunch and I sit on a picnic table while an older black woman makes a group of us laugh.
Walking back to my room along the fence, I look over to the amazing view while I set my bag down. Behind a large object that is on the beach, I see a whale tail breach the water. I get excited and run back to my bag to get my camera. I frame the shot, focus the camera, and notice the details of the scene.
Sharks are in a frenzy, eating the flailing whale. The object in front of this grisly scene is a beached whale. I drop the camera from my view and look down the rocky shore’s horizon. I see beached whales fading into the sunny haze. I look out into the water and see ships. They seem to be trying to avert the whale catastrophe.
Someone on the beach walks up to me and opens a section of the fence. An old, skinny man thanks the person and goes out to the beach where the whales are located. He is a scientist and did not have any other way to get onto the beach. I go over to him and ask him some questions, but I do not go near the animals.
As I watch the emergency unfold, I realize that I am at this retreat for a while longer. I wonder what the smell of rotting whale flesh is like, and if it will be strong.
May, 18, 2011