The ocean doesn’t care if we are 25 or 52. The salt will still tickle your tongue and mine. The sun will shine and feel just as warm if we are middle-aged.
I am afraid our relationship is like the boat in my yard with weeds growing under and up the side. We got her on a whim for the promise of a brighter future. She practically came to us weeks after whispering the wish as she had become a nuisance to our neighbor who wanted to unload her.
We imagined being rocked to sleep by waves on open waters where our failures were docked far away. We pictured sleeping side by side as the innocent children we never got to be in our cabin’s berth where the ocean would cradle us. We knew we’d look up often from the deck to see the stars.
We fell in love fast, hard and too soon.
We imagined catching our own fish, you strumming your guitar and me writing poetry. We would navigate the waters at sunset. We didn’t mind that we would have little space to be alone when our combined children slept on floors and converted couches, that we’d have to crawl over one another to get to the galley or the head. We imagined diving off of the back of the boat or pulling the kids on rubber tubes by Martha’s Vineyard or Provincetown.
Now, I see a squirrel on the wooden rail, teak and not yet polished. Now, the leaves of the trees are turning color and falling over the deck. We agreed to change her name from “Boston Indulgence” to “Before Sunrise” but the new words have only been painted in our mind. Some say it is bad luck to change a boat name. Are we cursed because we can’t accept her for who she was or blessed because we are attached to what could be?
I climb a ladder to show friends and family the interior passing the two tanks that sit under my porch. They are meant to replace the rusty ones in the boat. But we haven’t had time to take the old ones out. They are buried under a plywood floor that must be sawed apart. Are those old tanks like our failed marriages taking up so much of the interior space that even though they don’t work they can’t be replaced? Are we, the plastic wrapped aluminum tanks displaced and waiting to be useful? Will the dismantling and rebuilding be so difficult that we never even get to put the keys in the ignition to see if the twin engines turn over?
It’s more than dead weight that almost drowned us. It is the alphabet of despair: Addiction. Bankruptcy. Court. Deceit. Emergency after emergency. Grief. Hospitalizations. And I haven’t even got to “I”. But there has been so much more. Awe. Bliss. Consideration. Devotion. Eroticism. Fearlessness. Growth. Happiness.
You have taken me out to sea more than once. You have taught me to walk into the ocean bare foot in the fall for the thrill of chilly water. You have shown me how to float naked and let nature carry me. And haven’t I thrown you a laugh line or a life line when rip tides pulled you under? Wasn’t it me, waiting at the shore with a warm blanket when your tired body arrived on shore? We have waken up something primal, connected and familiar in one another.
How can love ever be wrong?
We sit side by side on the sea wall. We wrap legs around one another and place our feet in the sand. You teach me to skip rocks. I show you to hunt sea glass. We watch dogs play fetch and breathe in ocean air before sipping morning coffee. We have eyed the spot where our mooring will go, imagined the dinghy at the end of my street which would bring us to our boat.
Is is still possible? I don’t know our fate or the future. The past has shown me how poor I am at predicting chaos or navigating loss. I do not always know when to pull up or set down my anchor. I am new to living without a compass or a map.
Still, I can’t buy you out of your half or give you mine. We have picked out our own color scheme for the walls, bleached old curtains and washed her down. Our baby is a land-locked dream. Can she winter with patience until we make our way to her? I am not ready to give up on our dry-docked dream.