Tuesday, Jul. 09, 2019 @ 10:08 am
I enter the classroom and wedge myself into a child-sized desk. I look around at the others in the room, at the other nervous faces. The walls are painted a nauseating minty blue, reminiscent of an outdated hospital. This is the first day of sailing camp.
Soon we are at the beach gearing up to sail. I pull up the back zip of my wetsuit. Tighten the straps on my paddling shoes. Buckle up my life jacket.
I wade out into the water with a yellow-hulled sailboat. As I pull myself into the boat, the instructor gives the boat a little push and yells at me to shove down the centreboard. I obey, and then I’m sailing, the mainsheet in my left hand, the tiller in my right. The hull cuts through the light chop. I am the first to launch, and the rest of the class gives a small cheer at my success.
I sail towards the buoy at the end of the course. I practice my first tack in my head before executing it. Look. Push the tiller. Swap sides. Change hands. The boat lists dangerously and then whips around as the sail catches the wind. The instructor catches up with me on a Zodiac.
“That was a textbook tack. Well done!”
We sail for two hours, the sun setting and kayakers navigating around our zig-zag paths. The boat feels natural in my hands. I love pulling on the sheet, tying knots. The ropes that wind their way through my life, first suspending me alongside cliffs of granite and tethering me to my lover. Now, the connection between me and the wind, and I use them to direct my course of travel.
The wind dies, and I remain stranded offshore. A young man from my class is near me in his boat, and we laugh and laugh about the absurdity of our helplessness. My boat starts to drift backwards in the current, and I can hardly hold the tiller for laughing so hard.
Back on land, I notice that my knees are bleeding from grinding against the sand that was stuck to the inside of the hull. I rinse the abrasions with sea water before hauling my boat up on the dolly and drag it up the ramp out of the water. I unrig my sail and carry the 21-foot-long mast from the boat into the rack located in the sailing club. I don’t need anyone to do this for me.
The water, the ocean. I am obsessed. How much time can I spend in the water, on the water? How many different ways can I find watery freedom? Diving down into the green sea strung with kelp and fucus. Standing on top of the glassy water, slowly paddling a path while looking down at the sea life that gathers in the shallows. Skimming the surface, leaning back off of the side of a one-person sailboat, the wind filling my sail, squinting off towards the skyscrapers and the blue mountains that surround the harbour.
Ocean. Sand. Love. Freedom. His blue eyes.
“You do stare intensely, you know, moreso than other people.”
I stare because I want to know you, to understand you, to see you.
I want you to know that you are my ocean, that gravity disappears around you. You hold me gently, keeping my head above water, as the buoyant sea.
I’m not sure how much longer I can go without saying I love you.