Once again, I leave used up eyelashes everywhere. It’s cold here and I’m sleepy. Last night in the make-up room, getting ready for the thirty-girl live-on-the-internet lingerie pyjama party, me and Gia and Aidenn and Brande and Pony sang along to Belinda Carlisle and curled each other’s hair and shared beauty tips and it was like my ten-year-old self had imagined it all into being. I’m old now, a real grown-up, drinking espresso on Saturday morning and writing post-wedding thank-you cards.
In Akumal, it was nesting season, and the turtles came up on the beach at night like tanks with dinosaur heads. From twenty feet away in the dark, you could just make out their big flippers flinging sand up and across their own backs, with a rough thwacking sound like in a movie gangster digging a hole for the body. The CEA with their red flashlights kept everyone back and quiet, until one night when the turtle had stopped digging and been only a still black shape for at least ten minutes, and the man with the red flashlight waved us in close. A dozen tourists from the US and Italy and northern Mexico moved in quietly to flank the nest, and the turtle became slowly visible, three feet wide, her shell crusted with sand and red-brown curls of seaweed that seemed to be rooted and growing there. The man with the flashlight touched the turtle’s front flipper, shone his red light on the numbered metal tag there, and then moved around to her backside and used his arm to push the banks of the nest out wider so we could see right in. The turtle didn’t move at all, just continued to lay her eggs and we watched them drop – a pile of sticky ping-pong sized tapioca balls deep in the damp sand. We stayed there watching for thirty minutes or an hour, who could tell how long? And the woman next to me held her little telephone out in front of her with its lights off – she could not possibly have seen an image on its little screen – making the world’s most boring vacation video to prove that she’d been there. All of a sudden, seeing something we could not, the man with the red flashlight waved us all away, and we stepped back before the turtle began to move again. Maybe she was tired or just careful – she moved a little sand into the nest with her flippers (like a child making angels in the snow) and then paused for an entire minute before repeating the motion. Warm damp air, black beach, our skin sticky, the waves continuing to rush in and out, and this ancient animal slowly, slowly, burying her secret nest. Finally she must have decided it was well-hidden; she began to turn around, clockwise, a few inches at a time, until she faced the water. Then, her back still heaped with sand, like something out of a myth, she walked back into the ocean.
Back in San Francisco, Brande glues my lashes on one more time. Next week she’ll go back to Los Angeles and I’ll go back to New York and last night was just one more party at which fifteen new girls learned how to wear a glitter dildo. Next week I’ll return to my schedule of ten mid-air hours a week, doing my homework at 30,000 feet, and all of this seems like a kind of mythology. Art-making and naked-on-the-internet and Hollywood movie stars acting out lines I’ve written. Not to mention hurricanes in Manhattan and famous NYU faculty at the welcome reception eating grilled shrimp on a stick. Last night there were nervous girls in bright lipstick and daring girls in bright lipstick and both of them reminded me of me. Reminded me of being a grown-up, still pop sing-along, head still turned by ribbons, post-adolescent and still eyelashes everywhere.
Early one morning, we heard shouting on the beach and ran down with our coffee cups and sleep-crazy hair to see Elyo, the head of the red-flashlight turtle-keepers, helping the new-hatched baby turtles out of the sand to keep them safe from birds. They were small as plums. Flat plums with strong legs and perky little faces, and when he let them go into the sea, two or three at a time, they scrambled like wind up toys, were turned over by the first waves and then got back up to try again until they finally got past the edge of the water and caught the current – tiny, determined creatures riding out into the wide water.