Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Sea Baby

It was time to take a trip alone, so the dog and I set out to the North, headed towards the Straight of Juan de Fuca. It was just past tulip season, but the drive to Anacortes was beautiful enough to crush on the heart of two creatures thinking of moving away.
We took a long ferry ride, and because of the canine we were banished to the unheated outskirts of the vessel. The cold made us slightly drawn in and contemplative. 
When we reached the town of Friday Harbor, on the island of San Juan, we were greeted at the terminal by a blond birthday girl named Jen. Jen writes Baby by the sea, (careful not to sink too far into her photos, you'll have a hard time emerging for a few days) we've never met, but I'm learning that doesn't really matter. Jen's a New England born writer, and so am I. She knows everybody on the island and drinks and desserts are forever on the house. We sat watching the sun sink as she ate oysters and I drank three rounds of island margaritas.   
That night we lay on the floor of her wide open, book-lined living room, listening to vinyl and talking about writing. We were old friends who haven't seen each other for twenty eight years (or more) so we had a lot of catching up to do. 
The next day was Saturday, and it was raining on the island. I walked with her family to a T ball game for her middle girl, Lucy. 

As the morning progressed, I looked around and categorized my surroundings in my head, as I find myself doing a lot these days when I'm untethered and deciding. 

Life on the San Juans felt verdant and safe and idyllic, so similar to my own childhood in Vermont. I hugged my sweatshirt tight around my body as the rain got heavier, standing there alone amongst all the couples who looked like me, and dressed like me, their six year olds running bases and toddlers crawling through the damp grass.  

I looked at all the fathers in their Patagonia fleeces and Pacific Northwest beards, standing patiently near the playing, hauling little bodies in the right direction as kids flew in random zig-zags around the bases. The fathers made me at once hopeful and morose. This type of men, are they born or created? Did they always want this, or did it just happen, did they wake up one day on a little house in the Pacific Ocean with two kids and a wife and wonder how they got there?  

Is a good life the result of extremely hard work, or does it just happen, and the best you can do is stay out of the way? If you know the answer to that, please let me know.
Jen and Luke, with Betty and Lucy and Olive and the dog in tow, took me around Friday Harbor, the early summer farmers market, the anchor-and-crow themed coffee shop and the secret rooftop with a view of all the boats. This is the town where the Endeavour docked a year ago and I spent the whole day leading passengers to the dentist after all their teeth cracked at once, bizarrely. 

The biggest medical issue you'll run into on a ship could be dential, the Alaskan Paramedic had said when we'd lived in the snow in Leavenworth, and how right he'd been. 

Five months later the Endeavour was back in Friday Harbor, all teeth in good condition, and the crew ran around, euphoric, back home in Washington (how we love Washington!) the season over, the days easier. 
At the end of my stay, Jen and I drove out to the coast and went for a run. I chased after her. She took me to a secret beach and we gathered sea glass; she found a giant piece of blue, which is getting scarcer and scarcer to find where I live.

I'm getting lots of requests for blue, and I could never say no, and I could really use some myself as well. If you know of a place frequented by Vodka swigging sailors who throw their empty bottles into the ocean, please let me know.  
I said goodbye, and the dog and I ran last minute onto the ferry, and we crossed the chill waters again. Then, because I'd been thinking about Connor and the Alaskan paramedic, I drove to Bellingham for the night to see them both. It was the Alaskan's last night before he left for a stint on a boat somewhere off of South America, and Connor's last weekend before he got back on the Endeavour, headed North to Friday Harbor, through the straight of Juan de Fuca to Alaska. 

Boats keep taking my friends away!

Sometimes I want to go away too, but where would we go? Washington is a cold paradise laced with friends and islands and rocks, what could be better?

 If someone knows to the answer to these questions, please let me know.  


SmithShack71 said...

I don't have the answers, boo.
Kinda pissed you guys couldn't ride the ferry in the warmth.

Kimberly said...

Sounds like a lovely getaway. I don't have the answer either, I sometimes look for it myself, but something mysterious and magical always seems to pull me back in and keep me here.

The Salty Dogs said...

For me it was both hard work (building the elements of a fulfilling life that were within my control) and staying out of my own way. The former was easier than the latter.

Really I just let the dog pick. And when Mark flew across the room to catch dog vomit in his hands, all the while consoling the dog, I knew his " not sure about kids" wasn't firm.

Anonymous said...

I love the way you write, Melina. Your wanderlust and that restlessness -- and those damn unanswerable questions -- resonate so deeply.

Rachel @ Existation said...

"Is a good life the result of extremely hard work, or does it just happen, and the best you can do is stay out of the way?"

I think it's both. Like...a mix. Sometimes you have to work hard, but then sometimes you have to let go and let stuff happen. The problem is figuring out which action is appropriate in which situations...le sigh.

Jona said...

These are big questions your are asking Lina, and I'm guessing no one knows the answers! All I can say is after reading the recent posts, I'm not sure how I'd be able to tear myself away from that life in on the West Coast. And that last picture is beautiful - I have almost the exact same one, taken on the isle of Arran off the west coast of Scotland. You should let a boat take you there one day...

Melissa Fielman said...

Great pictures. Sadly, I don't have answers either. Thank you, though, for introducing Baby by the Sea. She definitely gained a new follower today.

Anonymous said...

I don't have any of the answers right now - loved the photography though!
Have you read this novel?
Snow Falling on Cedars - it's set on the San Juan island(s), which seem really exotic to me...

- Kay

Lisa McP said...

No, I don't think it's hard work- I think it just happens. You know....."if you get a chance take it, if it changes your life, let it." And the dads on the field, they probably didn't understand how good fatherhood would be until it happened to them. Xx

Michelle T said...

You'll get there. YOU are a good person so your life will reflect that. It might take a while to get there, and nothing is ever perfect, but your big heart and quick mind will get you there.

Taralyn Rose said...

In Victor Hugo's novel, the Count of Monte Cristo says at the end: "So, do live and be happy, children dear to my heart, and never forget that, until the day when God deigns to unveil the future to mankind, all human wisdom is contained in these two words: 'wait' and 'hope'!"

I've found this to be so true, though I'll admit painful.

And prayer,
prayer is a powerful means to the end.

Thank you for being so honest on your blog. Your struggles are real and I hurt for you after I've read about them. Keep on keeping on, girl.


Baby By The Sea said...

I love you. Wow, it was like talking with an old friend the moment I hugged you. So glad you came to visit and I can't wait for our next visit. You're just rad.
And, to answer your question, those Daddy pals of mine were wild and free adventure seekers who, through love and time, morphed into Daddies who traded backcountry skins for a diaper in their back pocket. We still get to mountain peaks, though not as often. The trade is sharing it with the tiny humans they helped create.
It's all about change, changing together and in similar directions.
When we were camping together fifteen years ago at 11,00 feet I never would have imagined we'd have three girls and he'd be better at braiding hair than me..

Jacki said...

A good life ... I think it's a mix of hard work, lucky stumbles and staying out of our own way.

Like, my life is good, but it's not at all what I thought it would look like, and some of it was just stumbling, like meeting this crazy young dreadlocked creature at a job I randomly applied for and was hired on the spot, having a secret crush on him and later finding out he had one back.

And then there's the getting out of our own way, the knowing when to say "enough" and stop tying myself to things (read: men) who were hurting me.

And those dads, they grow into that. Most of them do. My honey has, when it just happened upon him one day that he was unexpectedly going to be a dad. Maybe some of them always knew they wanted it, distantly, but then they grow into it when it happens.

I don't know. I think I'm still stumbling most days, but in the right direction(ish) now, you know? And I think that's sometimes the best we can do or hope for.

Lisa said...

That good takes a lot of hard work...but so worth it! And it looks different for everyone. :-) Take care! Lisa

Anonymous said...

Melina, your post brings me back to a different time in my life. I too wondered how. How do I make this happen, where do I find him, when is it going to be my turn. Now, sitting here reading your post while my husband gets pjs on my perfect 4yo son and perfect 3 yo daughter, all I can tell you is that it will happen. It will be your turn maybe not when and how you expect but it will, but it will. I was 40 when I married and 41 and 42 when I had my kids. Did I want it that way, no. Is life more perfect and beautiful than I ever imagined, absolutely. Enjoy yourself, enjoy this time in your life, make the most of it. Good things are always ahead.

Susan S said...

Some things in life do need to be chased to be caught.

But sometimes the best way to

--find the truth beneath a rumor

--locate the snappy come-back you wish you'd thought of at the moment

--catch a glimpse of a shy, beautiful creature

is to hold still and let it come to you.