Running Twine — Oct-Dec 2015
Gary talked about how plastic twine didn’t biodegrade. Oona drove a car and bounded across the smooshy plastic covering of hay bales like logs of chevre. We talked about the Lopez Island Studio Tour. That was the beginning.
Running Twine #1
I slept in a friend’s trailer on Lopez. I woke up melancholy and walked into the forest. When I ran the twine, the earth was moist and covered with branches, blackberry brambles and dead fall. I climbed upon tree stumps, rotting at their high points, and tied the twine as high as I could reach on adjoining trees.
The line brought me down a slight grade and then to the left where i found a clearing.
I wrapped two trees together in a web, then ran the twine through the center in a pattern like the profile of a mountain range.
Running Twine #2
I slept in a 21st floor apartment in Causeway Bay. I woke from an ambien slumber and took a taxi followed by a boat to Sai Kung. When I ran the twine, I was barefoot on a granite outcropping overlooking the South China Sea. The rock was highly featured, and I secured the twine in its knobs and granite cracks.
The line ran across a sheltered cove washed with plastic bottle caps, styrofoam food containers, and busted flip flops. The sun was merciless, but I felt nothing but joy.
From a promontory on the rock face, I sat and looked out at a pair of gumdrop islands. Then I dropped down to the water’s edge and secured the end to a natural bridge that sheltered a tide pool.
Running Twine #3
I slept in my bed in Seattle. I woke up hungover and eventually, in the failing light, jogged beneath a drizzle to Colman Park. When I ran the twine, I moved across a steep slope, thick with saplings, the earth blanketed with rotting leaves and plastic shopping bags.
I climbed high up slick trees to find free straight lines. I wrapped decomposing branches on the forest floor to mark their disintegration.
The rain hardened and night fell completely.
Running Twine #4
I slept on my father’s couch in Cheney. I woke with the sunrise and drove to the Cheney Industrial Park and my family’s cannabis farm. When I ran the twine, it was below freezing with a hard wind from the West. In the palouse, there was little sturdy or high enough to tie off and my hands were soon numb and chaffed from the line.
I found a stop sign and tied the twine around the pole then ran uphill to a light pole, a fire hydrant, another light pole….
Then far across the blacktop and a fallow wheat field to the cab of a tractor.
Running Twine #5
I slept on a friend’s couch in Los Angeles. He is living with terminal brain cancer and pumped up on antibiotics, chemo, steroids, pain killers and adderall. I woke with the sun at some indeterminate point of morning, and walked through his back gate to Victory Memorial Park.
When I ran the twine, I started in a hollow overlooking Dodger Stadium and build a web between two trees, so he could walk from his house and leave the fog of his illness. The ground was chalk dry, and branches of the trees cracked off with the weight of the twine.
I brought the line back up the hill toward the house and tied its end so that it was visible from his kitchen window.
Running Twine #6
I slept on a spare bed of old friends in San Miguel de Allende. We hadn’t seen each other for close to a decade, and it was good to return to their company. I woke to dogs vocalizing and the sounds of construction and was driven in a minivan to the El Charco del Ingenio. When I ran the twine, I tied it off a black outcropping of volcanic tuft beneath the dam then ran it down into a cleft in the plateau.
The landscape was a spare mix of rock pocketed with pools of stagnant water, long grasses, and the occasional nopales cactus. The cracks in the rock were smooth and water-warn so the twine would only stay taut with precise placement.
The canyon terminated at an emerald pool with cliffs on either side, said to be guarded by El Chan. I swam across on my back with the line trailing out behind me.
Running Twine #7
I slept on a flea-infested bed with sheets yellow from the sweat of 4,000 surfers who’d come before me in Puerto Escondido. I woke to pounding techno or bird squawk or dog confrontation or my unwillingness to linger in the same squalor. When I ran the twine, I had a pattern in mind.
I drew it on a large sheet of graph paper before beginning. It was based on the bathroom tiles.
Next to the house, I had paced the length and width of an open storm drain with exposed rebar at either side and calculated that three tiles could be reproduced running in a single line up from the beach at 144 times their original dimensions. In the drain, thin fingers of sewage ran across the concrete by the bathroom of the Bananas restaurant, and broken glass was caught between the rebar and the wall like egg in the tines of a fork.
The sun was setting, and I moved quickly in hopes of finishing in time for a swim in the Pacific. Soon people were shouting questions down to me from the windows of the restaurant. ‘Arte’ I called up in broken Spanish. The pattern was clean and perfectly aligned as I moved into the third repetition.
By the roadside, a gas worker with an extendable ladder and a hose dropped into the ditch and crouched beneath the twine, snapping one line, as he moved back to fill a reservoir. I stopped and watched him work.
My family came, and we left to go swimming. The next day, all the threads were broken.
Running Twine #8
I slept on the bench beneath the window in Puerto Escondido. I woke to the sounds of the household getting ready to surf and was driven to La Punta in a dilapidated black SUV. When I ran the twine, I moved above the beach on a black rock escarpment with veins of white quartz.
Behind me, surfers bobbed at the break. Below, families walked the shoreline.
From the cliff top, I dropped into the sea and swam to a promontory where fishermen worked with nets. From the beach, the twine cut the sea and sky into four quadrants of blue.