On the Boat Again

The Wilderness Discoverer, 1998.

The Wilderness Discoverer, 1998.

The other day I talked to an old friend who is moving out of his warehouse and onto a houseboat.

Yesterday afternoon my husband just so happened to bring home a pamphlet from the very same dock where my friend is planning to rent a slip.

Before Stan and I even had our first date I dreamed that the two of us sailed together around the world.

And last weekend we lived on a boat, the three of us for one night, two of us for the other. It was blissful, even the times I was sure the boat was too far away from the dock to jump in my wedges, even though we had to walk to the bathhouse for serious bathroom needs in pouring rain, even though it was tinier than any of our tiny bedrooms, I loved everything about it. We all did.

The last time I slept on a boat was 20 years ago next month. I was broke and essentially homeless, heartbroken and pushing down oceans of grief I wasn't even fully aware I had. I was hired as a stewardess on a small cruise ship in Juneau, Alaska, my bunk was in the bowels of the ship and we sailed over icebergs throughout the Inside Passage but the rock rock tilt and sway was the same as last weekend and how I've missed sleeping with that rhythm on dry land.

In fact, walking down the road well before 7 AM on the morning of my 17th wedding anniversary, I face planted in the asphalt, phone in one hand, cup of coffee in the other. When I peeled my head up I saw a man with a handlebar mustache rushing towards me. “You know it’s bad, you know you’re old, when people stop laughing at you when you fall," Stan says but I appreciated this man’s firm grip even while wishing the earth would swallow one of us whole.

"Mom. you’re covered in blood and sand and coffee," my son offered helpfully and we walked to the river to wash me off. I laughed so hard that I started crying even harder, bruised and bloodied elbow - knee - pinkie finger, coffee in my hair and down my dress, gravel and sand all over, but the river washed me clean, help absorbed my fall.

Valley HaggardComment