Tuesday, August 21, 2012

My Barrel of Merils

There is literally nothing on this funny blue marble that compares to the joy, loveliness and divine empathy that comes from having that one perfect girlfriend to sail with.

Sheer luck placed us on the same weird boat during the same strange season,  and I consider it my greatest piece of fortune of the whole summer.

Meril Clarke, you get your own post.
I'm crying my eyes out in crew quarters because it's day one of the season, we're underway through Canada churning a white wake on our two week voyage to Juneau, and already I've gotten in an argument with this boy above me that has me nearly spitting with rage. (This animosity will last the entire season and to be clear, the season, as I'm writing this, is not over yet. We have a few hundred sea miles left to go.)

But I can't stay in my room alone all day, looking at myself in the mirror. 

Out of the crew room, up the metal stairs, through the watertight doors locked in place by steel 'dogs' and up the steps to the lounge, my head down. The first person I see is the other blonde girl on the crew, her voice soft and lilting with a Louisiana drawl. I don't know her name yet. She sees my red face, messed up hair, expression. These are the first words she ever spoke to me:

"What? No! Oh honey, dry those cryin' eyes."

Since then, Meril has somehow has been my lucky charm, guardian of my sanity, this unflappable, unsinkable burst of joy who can communicate everything about how her day is going by a single eyebrow raise, the sharpest, the smartest, the most gorgeous girl sailing the sea right now. She's 27, the same age as me, yet somehow has about 100 seasons on boats behind her. She is overworked and underthanked, and in more than two months on the boat I have never shared so much one a minute of free time together.

And so our friendship is patched together by stolen moments, when we're both working. Whenever the boy sees us talking he scowls and assigns me some work up on another deck, intimidated, shaking in his shoes, by the strength and autonomy and irreverence that Meril and I find when we're around one another.
Our friendship is sealed by a thousand stolen moments of respit from our ragged exhaustion, a thousand waves rocking the boat on the grey open Pacific, one hundred tiny islands, one thousand moon jellies gliding by as we laugh at the absurdity of our lives onboard the floating circus boat Endeavour. She calls me Linafish, a nickname adapted from something that Andrew once called me in a letter. I call her my Barrel of Merils, because it rhymes, and because I wish I had a whole barel full of her.

I'm on a very short vacation right now, and in a week I'll be back on the ship. I'll be happy enough to return, there is something very alluring about the weird life at sea, but it's not the sea that's calling, it's this letter I have from Meril that says "Linafish, when are you coming back to me?"


Sarah Koznek said...

She is beautiful

Sarah Koznek said...

She is beautiful

Zowie Clarke said...

You are so right about her, Linafish, she is my Baby Girl, a joy and a blessing to me and this world.. You have met a friend for life. No matter how far apart, she will forever carry you in her heart