it is not an easy night to settle down, and not for the usual anxieties. There is a wreck positioned solidly in the waters off St. George's, Bermuda, not 50 yards from where I rock on a mooring in Calypso, my 40 foot sailing vessel, just bought this last July, with three other crew mates. That much rust makes one mindful of time; I have none to waste.
It is a full moon tonight, which accounts for some things, although it is invisible due to an expected incoming blow. That damned blow: it made a weakling of my weather router, the woman I hired to decipher the winds and tell me where and when to navigate this beautiful custom built sailboat. One cannot be too overcautious, even though the first owner and builder told me none has ever come to trouble for being too cautious. That is the tune an obsessive-compulsive plays, and though he may be right, I don't have the luxury of endless time. I am paying the captain and crewmate/navigator dearly, as we peg along, every day mattering to my dwindling budget.
It's also not truly possible not to play the tourist, as this is my first trip to Bermuda, my first experience overnight in any boat, my first blue water cruise, my first time as an owner going on my boat's delivery to the British Virgin Islands.
Tortola, specifically; Jost Van Dyke, to be exactly accurate. I am becoming more accurate, and more exacting. I find I cannot use my classic woman's tools of persuasion, entreaty, or apologetic wheedling; I must state my case as these men would expect of any other person in charge. This is not the easiest thing to do when I feel so over my comfort level on so many accounts, but even writing here to myself, I see I cannot appeal to my own timidity. I must stand up, timorous as that feels internally, and disregard the discomforts as would any man, intent on impressing his fellow shipmates.
For I have made a commitment--a marriage, really, to this boat, named for the nymph-goddess who seduced Odysseus for 7 years to linger with her, forgetting his cares and responsibilities, cleaving to him though he was not hers and was meant for a different destiny. She could only claim him for the length of her spell on him, for a spell.
I don't have the discomfort of feeling spellbound, because I can't accept that this boat, into which I have poured the whole of my fortune and destiny, is a seduction only. I am not prepared to believe that-fate would not be that cruel, cruel though I am learning she can be. Fate can be kind, since it can be arbitrary.
It can be what I intend, too, I hope. Do not the great men tell us that everything hinges on the inherent will that inspires the beginning of any endeavor? This undertaking has noble undertones for me, ones I want to know. I want to understand myself, for myself, just how much fierce drive and will I can extract in this phase of my life, so that I may be enabled to not only sail this ship to wherever I intend, but to grow into the person who can be confident in the expertise required to be successful. To become self-sufficient--that is what I have told people who have asked what this is about for me.
Dennis, our first mate, has said that he has advanced his skills for pride in achievement. It is his challenge to have a stern inner task master. My own has a mission orientation, my self-tasker wants me to be able to rise up and regain lost ground. There is a ground that gives way when a woman ages, and no matter how well I learned the art of gardening and design, the land eroded steadily under me as I could not easily bend, or pry, or dig, or hammer my fingers into the soil. I had to relinquish those exuberences, and let the seasons ravage my cultivated acreages.
I am talking about my face, now, and my body, not just my joints and muscles. I feel the imperative of climbing onto the boat with every push forward equating to a pushback against more loss of ground; I reason that if I voluntarily relinquish ALL ground, and come aboard a vessel held by water alone, that I may also become fluid, and follow my natural direction into the sea, the currents, the deep turbulences of myself, and maybe find a way to reconcile to them, for they seem as unknowable now as they have ever been for me.
I am a stranger to myself, and so strangeness can become me, can become what I can't explain, can just make me over into a creature that accepts it's own quixocity.
It is better not to know, in a world that has gone to hell the week I left the country of my origin, when it can so lose itself that it succumbs to tyranny and turns itself over to the evil tyrants. Elections are best left in my wake. Lot's wife's transmogrification into a pillar of salt is my image-lesson. I could see myself becoming salty and tearful, but not here, now, not yet, and maybe not ever. I would like to venture into lands where remorse and apprehension are simply unsupportable, and are shed, like lobster shells, and sink into the drink. I want to rise able in all things, so may I do just that. May I manage, and in my managing, may I prove an achievement, for in 58 years of life, small steps have not gotten me to the place where my life NOW can supersede the regretful omissions and commissions in my life which drag me back.
They say that this is for lack of love; maybe, and if so, may I not so lack in love for my own self that I am never able to overcome a lack of action when its time has come--as mine did this summer when I jumped off the highest high dive of all, and left for parts unknown. Not alone, though, thank heaven for Bob, who has accompanied me and who chooses to share this experience. Thank God for that, and for the others, and for this boat, and for all the ways life has enabled me to take this excursion. I will find out what I am to do; that's the easy part, since what I am to do immediately is to stay alive.