Saturday, 11 October 2014

"The moon and I are too much in love..."

First frost. Spiderwebs like dreamcatchers, strung with the dew they caught and kept. Leaves that break underfoot like glass.  Autumn may have slunk in like an alley-cat, all stealth and grace, but she's a lion now. The streets are copper and gold where she's stepped.

And oh, the moons, the lovely moons. Why are the skies so much clearer in the cold? The stars come back to themselves, are brilliant in a way they never are in Summer, when they are gentled by the heat, and the Autumn moons are startling: bone-white, diamond-clear, hauntingly bright.

I read somewhere that scientists think the moon may have been ours once, a commonplace part of our crust. That something struck us from the wide white sky - a meteor, perhaps, or a comet streaking fire the way a girl's hair streams behind her in the wind - and a huge chunk of land broke away and spun off into space, where it caught in orbit, and hung there, and became our moon.

Isn't it pretty to think so? I can't help but think of the moon as a girl, and that theory leads me to imagine her up there on her shelf of stars, lonely and wistful and Winter-white, always in sight of her old home but unable to return. Maybe that's why the tides turn, because she's trying to sing them back. Maybe that's why girls crease with cramp each month, because their blood follows the same silver tune.

There is something magical about the moon. That's why so many poems try to catch her in the nets of their lines, like a great silver fish. That's why so many artists try to keep something of her for themselves, in ornate frames, in cathedral-quiet gallery rooms.


I wrote a few posts ago of moths; of how they have become something of a personal totem after they batted insistently at the glass of my life in their soot-soft, silent-winged flurries. How I finally gleaned a message from their constant, persistent presence: to make the decision that is right for myself in every moment, and to always head in the direction of the light.

It stands to reason, then, that I may be more moon-obsessed, lately, than most, given that I'm following the path of the moth these days, and the moon is the very source of that light, in both literal and metaphoricalterms. I'm asking constant questions in a way I've never done because of that little lightbulb moment about the moths. I'm more engaged than I've ever been. I accepted my life just the way it was for a really  long time, because that's what so many people do. So many people just accept that they're in jobs they hate, or have toxic relationships, or are in poor health; they accept it because they take the attitude that this is real life, and real life isn't all dreams coming true and Prince Charmings happening along, and having jobs we really love and getting paid a lot of money to do them; we're not in a Hollywood movie.

And I accept that; I accept that we're not in a Hollywood movie. But who wants a life where the endings are already written, anyway, and the coincidences aren't strange and wonderful but scripted purely for plot, and the moon, the gorgeous, miraculous, luminous moon, is just something small and coin-bright on a flat screen?

Life isn't perfect. I've always known that. It took me a lot longer to realise and really understand that just because everything isn't perfect doesn't mean that nothing is.

Last night I had a perfect moment. It was both the loveliest and simplest of things. I had a glass of really cold beer, my boyfriend's hand was resting on my knee, and we were talking and looking up at the moon which was just wildly, insanely, outrageously beautiful, all wreathed in blue cloud and turning the air silver. And for a split second, I felt perfect, and happy, and absolutely full, and I thought This is it, this is what pure joy feels like. And then it was gone, with just the lovely afterglow left behind for a spell.

I think maybe the trick of happiness is accepting that we can't maintain that feeling constantly. We're not meant to. Happiness without any other emotions to frame it is empty. It's champagne without the bubbles. Fizz gone completely flat. We can't rest in those happy, perfect little moments forever. But in keeping those metaphorical moths in mind, I'm learning to move in that same, steady, hitching kind of flight in pursuit of those moments. Zigzagging between my moments of joy. Luxuriating in them when they happen, and then setting off again afterwards, eyes on the next bit of light.

The moon, more than anything else, has the effect of making me remember how small and human and mortal I am, even as it makes me contemplate how vast the universe must be, and what a miracle it is that I exist - that any of us exist - at all.

And so I'm going to go out again tonight. Breathe in the cold, look up at the moon. Know that if I could see my own eyes, there'd be a million stars reflected in them. All those galaxies, all that old light, ,existing, however briefly, in me.

What a miracle that is. And how simple it is to find miracles when you only stop to look.

Saturday, 27 September 2014

Autumn is a second Spring, when every leaf's a flower...

Autumn is here. The stealthiest of all the seasons. In she creeps on little cat-feet, trailing her bronzes and turning the leaf-tips to copper as she goes. One moment the skies are jewel blue and absolutely clear. The next they are the colour of unlit lightbulbs,  the smoky grey of shoeprints on paper.

We went wandering a couple of weekends ago on one of those last clear days, and ended up in the gardens of an old stately home. We bought ice creams from the little on-site cafe, took off our shoes and sat on the grass beneath the old Tudor mansion house. Couples threw sticks for woolly-looking dogs. Children toddled by the pond, squeezing fistfuls of bread meant for the ducks in their chubby little fists. Magpies rattled like gunfire in the trees. Midges fizzed. It was beautiful. Later, we went for a walk by the lake, and I took photos of the water, the sky, the trees.
In one (the photo I posted at the start of this entry), a single tree blazed orange; the others, all around, were still green. That first sign of Autumn, even as the sky glowed blue through the gaps in the leaves. Just two weeks ago, and now the green is gone, and we crunch through molten colours in the streets.

This morning, we went to the food and craft market near C's house, and drank coffee as we browsed the stalls. Breads studded with nuts and seeds, and peppered cheeses; fat, split sausages spitting on the grills. Homemade ciders and local beers. Steamer trunks with real iron bindings. and stencilled names fading prettily to obscurity on the sides.

There was a lovely chill in the air, and the stallholders were cheery in woolly hats and fingerless gloves, and I suddenly wanted more than anything to press the morning into my memory like a flower in a book, or a moth behind glass, wanted to preserve it to take out and handle in the Summer months, in the Spring, say yes, I remember, this is exactly how Autumn smells; of coldness, and coffee, of woodsmoke, and grilled meat, and clean, good air...

Monday, 22 September 2014

"One moment your life is a stone in you; the next, a star".


Remember when my heart was glass, and love songs were feet that stamped and smashed. All those months when my face was grey, and broke open without warning, a sky full of rain.

A friend told me then, Some day, someone else made of stars will be waiting in the wings. I held onto that like a rosary or a charm. Thumbed it in the dark. Pressed my wishes and my hopes into it, like fingerprints in bubblegum or plasticine. Wanted to believe, but couldn't, quite.

In June, I went on a date to flesh out the bones of my loneliness. Tired of spending Saturday nights with a bottle of wine and my thoughts. Tired of Sundays where the hours were endless and glutinous, melting and lengthening like Dali's gloopy clocks. My friends were busy, my own four walls were driving me crazy, and I just wanted out for a while. I wanted sunshine that wasn't filtered through glass. Good wine. Some conversation.

I wasn't looking for anything, not really. But I found everything.

People said, You'll find love when you're not looking, and, When you're ready, love will find you. I've said those things myself - many times, to many people - and I've always meant them. It's just harder to believe when it comes to your own tender self. Its hard to have faith, even the vaguest kind, when you still feel like you have bootprints on your heart.

This is the beautiful thing about life. It's a truth that you sometimes have to root for in the dark, but it's true like a root, like a stone, like a star. There will always, always, always be a turning. Just as Winter will crack open into Spring. Just as the night will lighten into morning. Nothing is permanent. Everything, but everything, will change.

I may be hurt again, in time. Maybe it won't work after all. Maybe he'll break my heart, or I his. But that's the risk, isn't it. The beautiful, terrible risk of it. That's the chance we take each time we put our feelings - our eggshell-fragile, mothwing-delicate feelings - into someone else's palm's. But rather that than be lonely and be flat. Rather take a blind leap and a tumble than never start.

I have been a bud. I was a bud for the whole first half of the year, hard, and closed and very, very green. But now I'm uncurling. I'm ready to be open again, I'm ready for loveliness and light. Let the ashes of what went before feed my roots. Maybe my colours will be all the better, all the brighter, for that.


Sunday, 17 August 2014

"We are shining...and we will never be afraid again."

I last wrote here in February. Half a sun ago. Six whole moons. It is August now. I look back along the length of those months, and they warp and shift, the way a heat haze makes the desert air shimmer. A trick of the light. A dissolution. A rippling apart, a coming-back-together.

It wasn't a conscious departure. Only that the words left, for a time, the way words sometimes do. I know that they always return, like the geese after Winter, glide in on wings whiter than they were before, making their noises, ruffling their feathers - I know this, I have lived through these wordless seasons many times, and am used, now, to weathering them. I go to ground, like the bears do, like the hedgehogs in their bristled sleep. I wait it out. I wait for the days to stretch and the light to lengthen. I wait for the turning.

In July, I wrote in my diary: The words have settled in my bones like sediment. They will not rise the way they used to, like birds, like bees, like the fizz in a glass of champagne. It's an inconvenience, their absence, because there is much to write about. So much change. I feel like the spark struck from a bit of flint. The woman pulled from a rib...

I drank a lot of coffee. I read a lot of books. Sometimes, there was sun, and I did those things in the garden. Sometimes there were whole weekends in pyjamas. I ran baths so hot that I couldn't see for the steam, and lay smouldering in the water like a blind queen. I bought myself roses.  I went on a date with a beautiful boy, and I felt that lovely flip again, for the first time since the last time. And still the words were quiet. It wasn't always comfortable, but I gave them their room. I didn't root. I didn't ruffle. I didn't try to engineer their return. It made me itch, sometimes, the waiting - the way a broken bone itches as it strengthens itself under plaster and re-knits - but it was a lesson in patience. A lesson in trust.

This last year has been the toughest and loveliest and richest and hardest and most rewarding of my life so far. "Experience", says CS Lewis, "is a brutal teacher. But you learn; my God, do you learn." And oh, I am learning. I am learning and learning and learning. I have learned more, I think, in the last year of my life, than in all of the other thirty-two combined. I fell in love, and learned how to be vulnerable. I fell out of love, and had to re-learn being alone. I felt so crushed at that time, the heaviness of heartbreak weighing down on me like the weight of the whole sky, so that I thought I would never get out from beneath it. But I wasn't crushed, in the end; I was only changed.  

(Remember this for the future. For times of uncertainty. Difficulty. Change. Times when the words won't come, or your heart is broken, or the weight of the world itself is on your shoulders. Remember this. That diamonds are formed under just that kind of pressure. That leaves, under that weight, can alter stone).


Friday, 28 February 2014

The Journey

It was my birthday on Tuesday, and now I am thirty three. I say it to myself with something like wonder. It seems impossible that those numbers apply to me. They are vast, immense, as old as the stars; a whole universe in the curve of double figures.  
When I was twenty (and twenty five, and twenty nine), I imagined thirty three as a far off continent. Things would be different there, things would be simpler. I would be a mother, perhaps, with children clutching stickily at my knees, printing my face with their kisses. A writer (of course) with poems in the world and a string of accolades. A wife with a diamond ring and honeymoon sun in my skin, still, golden.  
And now I am on that continent -  childless, bookless, without a husband. And the strangest thing about it is that I am happy, for the most part. Happy in my life. Happy in simply having a foot on the place, like I imagine Columbus was, planting his flag in the earth of the Americas 
I have spoken, at length, about spending my twenties grappling with health, both physical and mental. Those years where every day was a whirlwind: food and booze, panic and bones; hair falling out in handfuls, fainting like the ladies in Victorian novels, blue-lipped, wasp-waisted, eyes swarming with stars.  
It seemed dramatic, then - life was crazy, amplified, passionate, intense – but in fact, my life was on pause in those years. The whole of my twenties a button pushed down and held. It felt chaotic but I was standing still. Nothing moved. Nothing changed,  except the numbers that flashed on a series of scales, the numbers that either praised or damned from the labels of my clothes.  
I could regret the waste – and I do, sometimes – but the experience has turned out to have its gifts. I dug in the muck for years and came up wild-eyed and bloody-handed with the effort, but I found my treasures in the end, my fistfuls of gold: respect for myself, and awareness; empathy and acceptance; a hunger for truth and for knowledge; a burning curiosity and a mad thirst for experience.  
Perhaps the strangest gift is that of girlhood. I had it, once, and wasted it; frittered it away in midnight kitchens, bent over porcelain bowls in bathrooms. I gave it, freely, in return for a body I could carve the air with, all knife-edge and cleaving slice. My friends were falling in love for the first time, and moving to cities, and kissing in bars, and buying spices in markets in foreign countries, and I was at home, alone, taking a savage delight in misery. All those years the other girls had, of trying, and finding, and fumbling towards something, I missed out on. I felt badly about that for a long time, as if I was behind, somehow, as if I needed to catch up. But the result of that now is that I feel like my friends did when they were in their twenties: like the world belongs to me in a way that it has never belonged to anyone else, that everything is new, and shining, and waiting to be experienced.  
Birthdays inevitably make me reflective. The sequence of passing years, the implications of mortality, the endless list of all the things I haven’t done or seen yet, the places I have missed. My thirties have been the first years in which this reflection has not been synonymous with panic. I think before, I saw my life as a sort of train journey with a beginning and an end, and a series of stations I needed to pass through in between: education, career, marriage, children, and so on. Only in my thirties am I beginning to appreciate that the point of the journey is the journey itself, not whether I’ve reached a particular platform by the time designated on the schedule (which isn’t, anyway, my schedule). Life isn’t the checking off of station-names until the final destination. Life is the miles of field flashing in between, the beads of rain on the glass. Life is the other passengers in the carriage and the sheep outside, sleepy-eyed, working mouthfuls of grass.  
It’s good to look forward, I think, but not too far. Not so far as to where the tracks converge to a single gleaming point on the horizon. You miss the wild flowers between the slats that way. You miss the way the dust turns like fireflies in the random slants of falling light.  

Sunday, 23 February 2014

"So, we beat on, boats against the current..."

I have worn new clothes to work this week. Shirts with lace panels, and dresses with ruffles, and cardigans as finespun and delicate as cobwebs. I have been spreading wings of blusher across my cheekbones. Fancily pinning my hair. For myself, I thought, but in truth it was for him. I wanted him to think of me as pretty. I wanted him to regret giving me up so easily.

One half of me thought If he wants me, I will tell him no. The other half thought If he asks me, I will go.

I was happy on Wednesday. I could feel a light in my face, a radiance. I felt soft and good and pretty. He stopped me by the copier, my arms full of papers, and told me what I wanted to hear: lovely, was the word he used. I blushed, and floated back to my desk.

Be careful, said R, He is trying to charm you. I laughed, waved an airy hand, said no, no,  even as a bubble of hope rose in me like the fizz in a glass of champagne. He is not good for you, said N,  You have to let him go. I nodded, said I know, said yes.

I drank wine in the evening. I wrote a poem about the moon. I painted my nails the colour of beaten tin. All I thought about, the whole time, was him.

It was late when he messaged, as I had known, deep down, that he would. He told me that he was thinking of me, that he missed me in his arms, his house, his bed. I should have stopped the conversation there, closed over it the way water closes over a stone. Instead, I put my spun-glass heart in his hands. Turned my thin, pale belly up to his teeth.

I know already that this is wrong. I am not the love of his life, but only the easy option. I am not the object of his passion but only a desire.

He bought me a rose when we went to Rome in November. I pressed it between the pages of a book to keep the memory. I feel, now, a little like that flower. Like a rose in a book taken down from a shelf. He only wants to look for a while, and remember. He only wants a known fondness, the old familiar.

And still, and still, and still I am tempted.

Already I am hanging, like a coat on a hook, waiting for him to fill my empty places and give me shape. I am losing myself little by little to the air. He is wind and I am sand, and he sifts me, endlessly, from myself.

I want him. I don't want him. I want him. I don't.  I write to convince myself.  I write to untangle the need.

I feel like a wishbone, snapped abruptly apart. My wishes spilled, unsortable, across the table.

Monday, 10 February 2014

"I believe that the Universe wants to be noticed..."


It's funny, the little bits of knowledge we collect without really thinking about it, the way children at the seaside, sandy, salty-kneed,  fill their buckets with shells, and stones, and the ghost-pale skeletons of tiny crabs. Mostly, we don't do anything with our scraps of fact. We just like the way it feels to roll them in a palm on occasion. We like their colour, or the shapes they make in our mouths. Giraffes have blue tongues. Bananas are berries, but strawberries aren't. Pearls melt in vinegar. Polar bear fur is clear, not white.
I always accepted the fact that moths steer their course by the moon. I repeated it when it was relevant. I thought it poetic: imagined them, earnest little things, owl-eyed, flittering moonward. And then, just this week, I found out that it isn't actually true. That although they do always head for the light - which is why many moths meet a quick, frizzing death in the heat of a candle flame, or spend hours batting at a lit window - they navigate, in fact, by smell.
This is how they do it: they compare the scent in two points in space, and then move towards the greater concentration. Immediately, they compare two more points and revise their flight accordingly. And then they do it again. And again. Which is why they move in those funny, hitching little paths; they’re changing their course based on moment by moment decisions.  
Do you believe in signs, in totems? I do. I think they arrive when we need them, little points of reference like a string of lights along a dark path. I think they hold meaning and metaphor, the way dreams do when you look them up in the reference books a stew of symbols, portents, patterns.
There is a beautiful quote in the John Green book, “The Fault In Our Stars”, which says that, essentially, the universe wants to be noticed; that it enjoys its elegance being observed. There are times when I feel that the universe wants to be noticed so much, it leaves clues like fairytale breadcrumbs or arrows chalked on a path. I can’t help but feel that I am being guided toward something. That there is something I am meant to see, or understand. It feels like a firm hand in the small of my back, setting me gently but insistently in a certain direction.  
Moths, at the moment, are everywhere. They have infiltrated my life, a quiet sort of coup like snow dropping softly in a dark street. They crop up in the books I am reading. In songs I’ve never heard before. Last week, a friend emailed me a poem she thought I’d like. It was titled, simply, ‘Moth’. A tea dress in a boutique shop caught my eye; when I took up a fistful of cloth, I saw that the detail I’d taken for flowers was actually a scattering of tiny grey moths.  And then there was the quote I read at random, the one that informed me how moths truly navigate, thereby debunking my previously accepted moon-myth.
Simple coincidence, you might think, this flurry of moth-related occurrences. Pure happenstance. I accept that that may well be the case; still, I choose to disagree.
There is an Einstein quote I have mentioned before, in which he states that we have two choices: to believe that either everything is a miracle or nothing is. (Everything! my heart says; everything!). I have complete and total faith that there is more to the world and the way it works than we can even guess at, that there is more magic than we can imagine. 
We can map weather systems nowadays. We can follow a front as it moves from  one continent to another and predict, with some accuracy, its consequences. Meteorology is a science with its own private language: isobars and kerafonts, anemometers, mesoscales, and Rossby waves. A few hundred years ago, this would have been unimaginable - this level of knowledge, this ability to make predictions. The terminology would have sounded like an incantation or a spell. Words like sorcery might have been used; words like hubris. And yet, and yet; it was only ever patterns, being noticed. Just cause and effect being studied and mapped.  
When these little breadcrumbs litter my life, I can’t help but think it’s a pattern or system I just don’t have the ability or knowledge to understand yet. When the moths kept happening, I noticed, of course, but had no idea what, if anything, I was meant to take from it. I had no personal affinity for moths. There was no personal symbology there, no discernible message. And then I read that quote about their navigation techniques - almost like the exasperated Universe was showing me the answers in the back of a complicated quizbook - and I knew, I knew what I was meant to take from it.
I have been doubting decisions I have made recently. Big decisions. I have been, if not in a dark place, then at least an ill-lit one. It felt a little like I was scrabbling about for answers, for reassurances that I had made the right choices. One moment I would be holding them tightly in my hands, understanding, with relief, that I had done what was necessary, that I had been truthful to myself. The next, they would slip through my fingers like water, like light, and I would be empty and answerless in the dark again. 
And then came the moths. The moths who, I learned, make their decisions moment by moment. Who pause along the way to rethink and recalibrate before making whatever decision is the right one for them in that moment.  And always, always, while heading for the light.
You may think this is far-reaching. Or wishful thinking. You may think this is me building a scaffold of hope, looking for meaning where there is none. You may, as I said earlier, think it nothing but coincidence.
I'll let you keep that.  I'll let you keep your doubts. I have my moths and my sense of wonder. I have peace, and a view of the light.
It turns out I don't always need hard fact.

Thursday, 30 January 2014

I write of love again...


It is getting easier. My heart is lightening in the smallest of increments. My thoughts scatter still, in the darkest hours, but they scatter less wildly. Less and less madly.

It is true, then, that the nights retract. That the breath comes back like the ocean, like the moon. It is true that time is the only way through, that the only gentling is in the  accumulation of the moments, the minutes, the hours. 

Did I write, before, that we work in the same office? That five days a week, I sit and hurt in his line of sight? I loved him, I think. And, He is no longer mine. I also think, He lies, and, I know this is right. But of course it still hurts. His pressed white shirts, his voice, his smile – fistfuls of salt rubbed into a hundred cuts.  

I wore the grief like a hairshirt at first. I smiled and smiled but underneath, the self-flagellation itched and burned. I looked at photos, I returned to the same memories over and over, a tongue poking at a bad tooth. Worse, I let myself imagine. I gave weight to rumours, shaped ghosts from the air. A woman, gold-skinned, swimming in his sheets. Another hanging like a jewel from his arm. Pin-thin heels. Elaborate hair.

There is truth in the gossip, I think. Regardless, it matters less now. It was my decision to end things; I hold tightly to that. It is a stone rolled smooth by the sea, made warm in m y palms. It comforts me. To know that I have that kind of strength. To end something I knew wasn’t working, wasn’t healthy, even though I loved him, even though I knew I would miss so much. There is a lot to be said for that. 

Love songs still bruise. I still look away from lovers in the street, knotted at the hand, their smiles strung between them like a ribbon on a gift. But the lump in my throat is dissolving. My mouth no longer tastes of salt and regret.  

There is a reason things happen. A rhythm beneath each experience. And it's not always clear. Not in the aftermath of something, the churn in the wake of a failed love affair, a death,  some other kind of grief. But there is always something we can learn. There is always a lesson. It’s up to us whether we choose to take it, or whether we shut ourselves off from the hurt, close like a hedgehog over our softness, our terrible tenderness.

I’ve had my hibernation. My tiny sleep. I'm ready to be open again. I'm ready to creep back into the fray. The wonderful, horrible, usual, sensual, marvellous, awful, magical fray.

Sunday, 5 January 2014

Plumbing the depths

I have been listless these last weeks. Love, or lack of it, the culprit. It came out of nowhere, like a Summer storm, and I was caught up in the wild, sudden loveliness of it; it left just as quickly, and I was bereft. Where was the man who was holding me a moment ago, filling my ears with words as sweet as roses, where was the chest where my head so sweetly fit?

The truth is that I was grasping at ghosts the whole time. The man I fell for was smoke and shadow, a trick of the light. A man like that can't be kept. The tighter I held on, the less was left. I found myself with handfuls of ashes, fistfuls of only air.

And yet, and yet. Would I take back the last four months? The education of the body, the handling of the bones, the falling, the freedom, the fear? I wouldn't, not for anything. I needed to know that I was capable. I needed to know that I could break open like that. I needed to wear those strings of particular words like pearls, touch them, feel their cool weight against my skin, gleam with their soft spots of reflected light.

I feared, I think, that love might kill me. I thought if it ended I would bend and break, like a switch of willow in a high wind. I thought I would seal myself shut again,  cordon off the body and corral the heart, live the quiet, dusty life of an Immaculate.

Instead, I am sitting with my grief, knowing already that it will pass. We fall for the wrong ones, sometimes, the ones whose edges never really fit with ours, and that's ok, that's part of the human experience. People change. Hearts change. We change, and that is necessary, and right.

Growth hurts. I remember when I was fifteen, sixteen, my hormones gone suddenly wild; my bones creaked in the night like ships as they stretched, the new nubs of my breasts were two bruises that ached and ached. I shot up like a hothouse flower, and I hated it; I was a stranger in my own body for months as it quite literally changed and rebuilt itself around me, like living in a house where the rooms switched every day, where windows were suddenly doors, and ceilings were underfoot one minute and overhead the next.

But growth is crucial to development, even if we might not like it at the time, even if we feel that it's cruel, even if it's unwanted, even if it hurts. Maybe even especially if it hurts. Even as I tell myself this, my heart feels like a stone, heavy and hard, clunking dully in the space behind my ribs. Knowing that pain will pass doesn't lessen the immediate experience of it. Nor does it mean that I can sleep easily at night  again instead of charting the acres of ceiling like an astronomer mapping the stars.

It does mean that I can take how I'm feeling a day at a time (or an hour at a time, or a minute). It does mean that I'm certain that, given enough time, the space between clock-ticks will expand and relax again, and the pillow won't only be something to wrestle with in the deepest hours of the night. It does mean that I will be ready to love again when it happens for me, and it will, because I am open, and I have much to give.

The heart is an ocean. It isn't always safe. The salt stings, and its wrecks are countless. But oh my goodness, are there treasures untold in its depths.