“Ethylene is a gaseous plant hormone that quickens the senescence (aging and death) of fresh flowers. Various sources of ethylene include pollution, cigarette smoke, exhaust, ripening fruits and vegetables, and old, wilting, and physically injured flowers and foliage.”
Down the coast of Florida, the Space Coast, the hangar of the Space Shuttle still and shuttered on a promontory overlooking the Atlantic, the launch jutting upwards like the smokestack of a dead factory—an embodied memory. The proud seal of NASA is visible in the distance, relic of our collective dreams, barely understood. There’s a bridge named after Christa McAuliffe. I remember that day in high school the whole thing exploded—over and over again, over and over, and we sat in rows in our classroom, not really understanding, not getting death, feeling, more than anything, that we didn’t have to do any more work that day. Florida is sucking the life out of me. It wants to be left alone, and it has been overrun. In Vero Beach I think, I am a white person. White. White. White. It seems as if everything is white. White people, blinking and sunburned, filing off boats and heading for the showers.I have not seen a cruising guide that talks about what it is really like to go into the unknown—that parses that moment at which you become a stranger. We probably would have stopped sailing years ago, gone back to something more ostensibly comfortable, if we’d been able to afford it. Instead we’ve pushed onward, envisioning a new life that does not turn its back on the exigencies of change. Our family is a unit of survival, the only known thing across an ever-changing landscape.