Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Balcony Seat--

West End, Tortola

Twenty five years ago, I sailed to Tortolla from St. Thomas with a friend and her brother who had a boat he chartered to make a living. He wasn't a very nice fellow, but I was happy to be sailing, especially in the BVIs. By the end of the seven day sail, we had been to Tortolla, the big island that acts as anchor for the six or so big islands that form a circle around it. Conveniently, they are an easy day's sail away. And, the water, that crystalline blue, against the arid mountaintops and puffs of clouds against the blue sky are magic.

That trip was pretty goofy. The brother was looking for a mate who he found just before the trip. So, they spent alot of time getting to know one another. And this was a 40 foot boat with three other real "mates". I vowed then that I would become a captain rather so that I could sail whenever and wherever and with whomever I wanted to in the future. I went to the Annapolis Sailing School and pursued that goal for a year. It is a rigorous course--and rightly so. The instruction on the Chesapeake Bay was first rate, folks who had been sailing for years. I had my problems since I'm a romantic, abstract-random sailor vs. a technical sailor. That is, I would tell you what the prevailing wind was, and could identify where we were on the map. But put me in the hole with the engine or give me a gale force wind, and I am not happy. I remember one time Chris and I were sailing on Memorial Day. The only boat I could get was a 30 footer, a little small for my taste and the vagaries of the Bay. Wind gusts/ squalls are far too common --and there was just the two of us. The winds picked up, we lowered the sails, and I tried to turn into the wind. In the process, we almost jibed ( not a good thing in big winds ). I still remember the look Chris gave me. It was a what-were-you-thinking-when-you turned that-way look.

Anyway, I sailed the BVIs twice more--once with Benjamin to celebrate his graduation from college. And once with an intrepid Scotsman, former special forces in the UK, who had sailed around the world in his 38 foot teak boat, and was fearless.

So, here I am. On land, overlooking the sea that I so loved to sail. I'm curiously content to sit in my perch as the sun sets and watch the sailboats scurry for a port before dark. I'll probably sail before I leave here. I'm here for three weeks so anything is possible. But I like the view from here.

I've got lots of thinking to do. I tend to discern in the winter and act in the Fall. (Just figured that out today on the beach. See why vacations are important?)

One thing I know. it is more than a little bit important to me to be surrounded by beauty. It's one of those things I don't admit easily. I like to think ideally that I can live in a hut surrounded by mud walls. But I am affected by place. It's been true since I can remember. Since I was in my playroom as a little girl and asked mother if I could paint it. Or anyplace I visit, that I need to adapt so I can see the sunlight, the views of the outdoors. It isn't just a want, it is a need, deep inside. Something changes inside me when I am surrounded by beauty. Is that God? I don't know. Maybe. I know that it is transcendent, and since that's what God represents to me, I guess it is God. For me.


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