Thursday, August 23, 2012

Short Reflections on a Sailing Trip

I've just returned from our annual sailing trip with my sister, her husband, and their child (my one and only young nephew, unlike the nephews from my husband's side of the family, who are grown). I have returned to find a hurricane bearing down on us as we remember hurricane Andrew that wiped out part of South Florida 20 years ago. Oh, yes, and there's more work chaos than usual, which I may blog more about later.

I worry that my life is about to tip from absurdist theatre to full-blown tragedy. Who would be my dramaturge? Will my life be Ibsenesque? Something Arthur Miller-ish? Over the top Tennessee Williams?

But, before I get bogged down in this drama, let me record some of the highlights of my trip.

--When we first started sailing with my sister's family, back when it was just my sister and brother-in-law, sailing was a new experience for me. I'd only been on a sailboat once or twice. It was in an unfamiliar part of the country, the Chesapeake Bay. We didn't always have good weather: hot, humid, breezeless days made me wonder what the appeal could be. But then one day we had perfect weather, and we were hooked.

--Now that we've been sailing every summer for almost 10 years, it feels more like a tradition, like a return to a homeplace.

--Is it an annual event if it happens yearly, but not at the same time each year?  We've more often gone sailing in June, but sometimes as late as September.  We usually luck out with great weather.  A cool front came through Friday night, so thankfully, it was not scorchingly hot.

--We left on Saturday, August 18.  Apparently, everyone else left that day too.  We got to the airport at 5:40 a.m. to find that the security line had already gone to the overflow holding area.  Sigh.

--On the way back, I stood with my arms above my head for the full-body x-ray.  The TSA agent said, "Now do a cartwheel."  It took me a minute to process what he was saying and to realize he was kidding.  In that moment, I thought, I wonder if he'd let me do a round off instead.

--This year we added both crabbing and fishing to our fun activities. We had no luck with fishing. We had phenomenal luck with crabbing. We ate crabs that had been caught an hour earlier: so delicious!

--We also caught a fish in our crab basket. It made me wonder how much food one could catch in a crab basket, a passive hunting, if one had to.

--I thought my 6 year old nephew might object to killing and eating the crabs. On the contrary, he wanted to eat them all. No talk of keeping them as pets; I suspect it's because they're too odd looking.

--I love having a chance to read. This year, I read 3 books that have how-we-live-now themes:

   --The Uncoupling by Meg Wolitzer: Lysistrata for a modern age!

   --Triburbia by Karl Taro Greenfield: how we live now, if we're artists and fathers and folks at midlife living in Tribeca. Linked short stories!

    --My favorite: True Believers by Kurt Andersen, a novel which shifts between the 60's and the year 2014, with lots of interesting observations about both the past and the present, about our perceptions, about reality and the way popular culture, particularly James Bond, influences us.

--I played Blackjack with my brother-in-law as a dealer. I've never played with a dealer before, just with players betting each other.  I now understand why the house usually wins, but skillful players can make some money.

--I am not one of those skillful players.

--My nephew likes to play card games of all kinds, and he often makes them up as we go along:  "OK, now put down 4 cards, but you can't look at them.  Put three cards in a pile over there.  You can use them.  How many cards do you want me to give you.  OK, now you have to give me 3 cards because my card is higher than yours."  Dizzying.

--I learned a lot more about sailing this year.  This was the first year that I steered the boat.  It was perfect conditions for learning to steer:  very few boats on the bay and fairly calm winds.  I also learned a bit about letting out sails and bringing them in and helped lash the boat to the marina moorings.

--It was good to feel stronger and able to move around quickly enough to help.  It was good to feel my fear of wrecking the boat, but to go ahead, and to realize that catastrophe won't necessarily follow.

--I love the design of sailboats, so elegant, so full of purpose, and so beautiful.

--I saw lots of innovations and wonder why they can't be modified for land.  There are solar panels that are slim and capable of powering a whole boat--and they aren't much larger than your Kindle.  There are tiny propellors that spin in the wind and convert that energy to energy a boat can use. 

--My nephew wears his Spiderman costume often, several times a day.  Sometimes he wears a black cape.  Sometimes he has gloves.  And he has several pairs.  When I think about dressing for the day, it's not too different from adult behavior.  Some times, we need that costume that gives us courage.

--What costume shall give me courage today?

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