Anchorage

Sue met Dennis her first night in Key West.  He was captain of a wine tasting, sunset sail tour , they got talking, she got his number, they went for a sail two nights later on his boat.  She told me about the sail, I said I love to sail, and last night we both went out on his Catalina 42, sailing out of Key West Harbor, into the Gulf. 

I admired his boat.  “I sailed her to Venezuela,” he said.

“What did you do in Venezuela?” I asked.

He looked at me with a quizzical smile.  “I was on a trip.”

Later, when we were underway, I said, “The way you looked at me when I asked what you did in Venezuela makes me think we have very different approaches to how we spend out time.”  He laughed.

Dennis has been in Key West for 11 years.  Before that he “practiced retirement, and was really good at it,” sailing through the Caribbean for a year and a half.   Several years as a boat captain in Key West, then the trip to Venezuela, now back to being a ship captain.  He owns a house in Key West but rents it.  He lives on his boat.

“I’m practicing retirement soon myself,” I’d said and Dennis congratulated me. “I think you’re a good influence on Sue and me.  We work too much.”

Later, with the mainsail and jib both full of wind, the turquoise water slipping by, the water slapping rhythmically against the hull, Dennis smiled and said, “This is the way life should be.”

I wanted to say, “This is the way life is, right now,” but I didn’t.

Later, he showed me a map on his GPS gizmo that had tracked every anchorage of his trip to Venezuela.  The sweeping line of triangles was enticing, the path of a journey across the water. 

Live life the way it’s supposed to be, I thought, and make a sweeping trail of anchorages.  I’m on the right path, I just don’t have a boat and a gizmo to make a picture of my trail. 

Around the Corner

In a strange bed last night, which is not strange for me (I travel a lot), I knew almost immediately I would have trouble falling asleep, so I took more medication, and then overslept.  That included getting up in the middle of the night to pee, and spending almost a minute banging around in the dark bathroom, unable to find my way out.  Door edge, bang!, wall, bang! door jamb, bang!, sink, bang!  It’s one of those hotel bathrooms in a bathroom, the toilet and tub off the alcove with the sink, so there were two doorways to manage.  I made it back to bed, and woke up to David calling.

As I talked to him, I pulled on some shorts, slipped on my flip-flops, grabbed my purse and headed out for the dock-front coffee shop to get some cappuccino.  I’m in Key West for a meeting, it’s miserably hot and humid and I’d planned to get up early to try running before the worst of the heat builds.  Not today.  I walked down the steps and came out a side door of the Westin and turned towards the water, around the corner of the building and there was a wall of cruise ship taking up all of my horizon.  Bang! 

Later in the day, after the meeting adjourned, I walked to a state park to swim at what seems to be the only real beach on Key West.  Surprising, the lack of swimming here.  People come to party, I’m told, not to be on the beach.  It was gloriously tropical — palms trees, deep blue sky, sea water streaked emerald and turquoise and aquamarine against the crushed shell white sand.  As I swam along the beach towards a breakwater that marked a turn of the shore, I came up for a breath and there was the cruise ship again, coming around the corner of the key where the water turns from ocean to gulf.  It’s monstrous white hull was all I could see.  Bang!

What’s around the next corner?

Re-Entry

After two weeks of orbiting in vacation sphere, today was touch down, re-entering the atmosphere of obligations, email, networks, meetings, schedules, deadlines and Droid notification signals.  David and I both kept yawning as we drove home from work, doing our daily download with each other.  “I think we’re yawning because we were so busy at work, we forgot to breathe.”  He yawned again.

When we got home, we changed into our bathing suits and went to the pond for a swim.  The sky was grey, with some piles of clouds that looked potentially thunderous, but we couldn’t hear any rumbles and went in anyway.  Stroke, twist, breath, stroke, stroke twist, breath, stroke, the water slipping over me, under me, filling in all the space around me.  Re-entry space, back at work space, back to swimming after work space, the grey space of the deep water, my hands plunging a burst of air bubbles into the pond with each stroke, the rhythm slowly working its way into my brain space as I swam back and forth and back and forth across the pond.

At one point, lifting my face from the water to breathe, I caught a sharp light among the clouds and froze.  Lightening?  I stopped, pulled my head up and saw it was a slit of direct sun through a fold in the clouds.  I listened.  Still no thunder to be heard anywhere.  The flash of brilliance hung there in the sky, then the clouds moved again and it was gone.  I went back to swimming.

Greens

David and I got up this morning, a week into our two week vacation, sat on the deck drinking cappuccino, moved to the porch to get out of the sun, too hot even though it was a cool morning, and talked about what we would each do today.   David was planning to continue sorting through paperwork in his studio, then work on the barn, either doing more organizing of the detritus of our blended lives, or painting in the summer studio he’s creating in the cleared out space.  I was going to bike and swim (tri prep), water the garden, and write.  We both would grocery shop, then cook for the dinner party with old friends.

“Let’s forget all that and go to the coast and kayak,” David said.

“We can get fish for dinner at Seaport,” I said, the fish market Eric and I shopped at for dinner parties.  “They have incredibly delicious smoked salmon that they smoke themselves.”

An hour later we were on the road, two hours later we were in Little Harbor, paddling towards the mouth against the tide.  I was riding on a sea of green — the green of the water above the sand and rocks, just feet below as the water swirled in to fill the harbor and creeks and marshes.  The line of marsh grass and low, scrubby trees lining the edges of the water was reflecting a deeper green onto the sea green.  The sky was as much cloud as blue and I thought about my blue kitchen, how I want it to be green.  I thought about how I wasn’t thinking about anything.  The boat was alive under me, twitching with the water pulling in with the tide, rumpled by wind, and my own strokes of direction.

Now it’s bedtime, the dinner party over, the smoked salmon raved about and devoured, the dishes done.  The green is in me and I feel full.