Here We Are Now, Chapter Eight (Living in The Light)
by philip scott wikel
In Tarpon Springs, Florida a year before, a woman had approached Dylan and his parents so she could touch Dylan’s hair. She said he had beautiful hair and that he had a light around him that made him special. This felt a little strange to Dylan and for a long time he thought maybe he was glowing and he hoped the light really did make him special. Ten years later he wasn’t sure. What he did know ten years later was that there were many in the world who would attempt to extinguish this light for one reason or another.
The day had been filled with real sponges found by a very old sponge-diver with smile lines embedded deeply in his brown skin. He had a large nose and could’ve doubled as a clown in the circus and even though Dylan didn’t like clowns much he liked this guy who’s spirit seemed to radiate in all directions. He loved to dive for sponges and had been doing so for more than forty years. He wore one of the old Captain Nemo-esque suits with the bronze helmet and a hose attached to it and a glass faceplate with miniature window panes. His name had to be Dewey or Clarence or something like that because he looked like a Dewey or Clarence. Deweys and Clarences had warm faces and were from the old school of gentlemanly conduct and good humor.
It was amazing to Dylan that real sponges actually grew at the bottom of the ocean. In a world where everything is synthesized and plastic, it seemed very cool to Dylan that something useful just grew. He had to think for a minute about the fact that it had to die for someone to use it but once he figured it was a plant, it seemed ok. Of course, he thought, we’ve got to leave enough plants down there to do their job of cleaning the water. Mom had taught him that.
Florida had seemed a beautiful place to him. The sand was white and the water was very warm. Tarpon Springs seemed cut out of the past; a fishing village from storybooks with Barnacle Bill’s seafood restaurant as the center of the sphere of life. A fresh catch everyday and conversations about the sea conditions and the state of hulls and rigging and when the hurricanes might come.
Some friends of the Blakes had a condo on an island nearby and one morning Dylan’s dad had gone off alone and walked all the way around it. He had said he was nearly caught by the high tide; nearly stranded. And Dylan thought he remembered his dad saying something about alligators and he thought maybe some time he’d go there with his dad but Dylan wasn’t much of a morning person and it seemed this sort of adventure was something that needed to be experienced in the morning before all the boats and people came. The way his dad explained it was almost as if, in the morning, the place was sort of pre-historic and timeless at the same time. Maybe if he could get dad to go there in the evening they’d see it together. The evening light would make it even more dramatic. Dylan would bring his pocket knife.
He thought again how funny it was that a strange woman would come out of nowhere and touch his hair and tell him he was special. She seemed nice enough but somehow it gave him a bit of the willys. Later in his life he would realize that people like this were sent by God, angels maybe, that guide you along. It was perhaps that God knew Dylan needed this sort of thing. It’s one thing to be loved by your parents but it’s good to get some special attention from someone else, as long as it’s a selfless act of grace.