Everyone is an Island

by Nie Ke

Photo Credit: Nie Ke

THE MALE was obviously a Frenchman—who else would so assumedly wear bleu marinière shorts over pasty-white-but-not-so-tight skin in the tropics, it was an unsubtle reminder that he would never truly be an island boy, nor a boy of this island; yet, it was a part of his heritage, a divine right bestowed upon him by higher powers, God and Gaultier, he wore his heart on his sleeve as his stripes on his pants, with all the pride and stubbornness of a well-to-do Parisien bourgeoisie.

Photo credit: Nie Ke

The female was, less blatantly outsider, but nevertheless from the urban jungle despite an admirable attempt at a romanticized version of the island girl look; returning to nature, an almost seamless fusion with the red-orange-yellow hues of beach life. Her choice of clothing contrasted less violently with the environment than the male’s, a fire dancing along the beach, noticeable, but without the right-angled vulgarity of the straight and striped swimming shorts etched on a white canvas; her pre-absorbed balcony tan was a subtle city blend. But, the devil was in the detail, the precise fitting of the dress to the shape and size of her figure favored form over function, the impracticality of the salty sea waves crushing her curated elegance was too much to risk entering the sea.

Together they stood, alone they gazed, into the vastness. And in that vastness, it hit him—an overwhelming sense of un-belonging. “I am an island,” he thought to himself. In that prescient moment, it was overwhelming and he walked straight into the sea with no intention of returning. He was just another face of alienation lost in a sea of blue. He would never truly be understood, neither here nor there. He was tripping hard. He let himself sink. Now submerged and camouflaged, the internalized external identity signifiers lost all relevance. A muffled silence ensued, just a gentle, muffled bliss, for those thirty-seconds he was in a twilight zone, all the worldly troubles were forgotten, comfortably numb.

Photo credit: Nie Ke

As he entered the sea, she strolled the beach letting her toes drag through the sand, temporarily removed from the fast-paced setting of the urban courting ritual, she realised that there was an irony to their presence here together in this proclaimed paradise. “I am an island”, she thought, with a creeping nostalgia accentuated by the being together but apart, their different class and castes, age, size, cultural understandings; yet, the vocal silence, unmusical rhythm of the waves and birds heralding the sunset began to dissolve those thoughts away, melting her into an empty comfortable gaze.

Emerging at the surface again, the soundscape unmuffled, the return of complex acoustics was piercing and brutal, an intriguing awakening to a varied smattering of clamour, some sharp some dim, the gesamtkunstwerk, a perfectly imperfect artistic synthesis, smashed the peace and distracted him from any lingering angst, in that incandescent moment he understood the bliss of delving into a Noise performance and letting yourself be taken. Then he locked his eyes on the female and all her blazing fiery contradictions, a simple straight line emerged, the shortest path from A to B, and he roared as he strode forward along it, unfazed by the battering waves, dredging out of the sea like Godzilla, unwaveringly focused on his newly improvised mission, accepted as he saluted the splendid simplicity of this binary problematization. 

Photo credit: Nie Ke

There were no answers in the vast endless ocean…only more questions. No more questions. It was soothing to be awaiting the return of her conspicuous, somewhat belligerent, alien onto their lifeboat of cross-cultural romance, floating in an ocean of conflicting emotions, competing interests, and abject chaos. It mattered little that nothing fit flawlessly into place, their pairing was absurd and his short-sense ridiculous, but she could embrace the absurdity and sail this ship. It floated and everything was fine. She heeded the proverbial ‘don’t think too much’, giggled, and kicked some sand towards him as he approached. “Aperitif Monsieur?”