There was a little old boat in the rear, left corner of my backyard. The boat was aluminum, small with two bench seats across the beam, and while my memory of this is equally as small, I remember tiny glimpses of the little old boat.
I remember me, sitting in the boat with a life preserver that was perhaps bigger than my entire body. This is my first memory of her. We were fishing someplace near City Island.
I somehow caught a little starfish, if I’m not mistaken. This was before we moved out to The Island and away from my birthplace in Queens.
I don’t remember the move so much. I din’t remember the duplex we moved from. I remember visiting the new house and Mom explaining, This will be our new home.”
I have no recollection of the move. I don’t recall what the house looked like before The Old Man made changes to it. It seemed as though one day, I woke up in a new bedroom, which was bigger than my first bedroom.
The old boat sat in the rear corner of our yard for a few years before The Old Man finally got rid of her. It’s funny though.
I don’t remember when The Old Man put old boat in the yard and I don’t remember the day my Old Man sold it; however, I do have little glimpses of memory.
I have these tiny pictures in my head of me back then. I couldn’t have been more than three or four at the time. I was sitting in the aluminum boat with a long stick from a tree, pretending I was someplace out in the middle of the ocean, fishing, and alone with the ocean to keep me company.
I see this like a dream in my head. I can view my yard the way it was when I was a little boy. I was an active kid—some might even say I was hyper. Or, maybe I was a bit too hyper would be more like it. But not here. No, I was calm in the boat.
I was a kid in need of attention. I had something about me. Even then, at such a young age, I had emotional struggles that could not be described nor did I have the vocabulary to define them.
I just knew something was wrong (or so I thought.)
But ah, that little boat. She was my vessel to a dream. She and me, we took trips together. We fished the deepest banks on the ocean. We fished the canyons and beyond the continental shelf. We went far and deep that little boat and me.
She was my first best friend.
I have this dream sometimes of me, out at sea and standing on deck behind the ship’s wheel aboard an old wooden ship. The seas are angry and building high. The waves are crashing over the bow. I am in a storm, as they say, with high-seas and my ship is taking on water.
The waves build high as I climb them and drop suddenly as I crash down, and me, I am at Her mercy. Mother Earth is churning the ocean.
Oddly though, I am not afraid. I am not uncomfortable. Somehow, my vessel, she knows which way to go and what to do. All I have to do is steer and be mindful of my equipment.
(Such is life, I say)
The seas, although angry, I know they love me. We’re just having a bad day is all. I also know the sea can swallow me whole, just like life can do from time to time—but still, somehow, I know I will make it through.
I remember another dream, back from when I was a boy of me in the little boat that took up space in the rear corner of our backyard. I was wearing a yellow raincoat and a sailor’s rain hat. The sky was gray and almost cartoon like. The seas were building high—even the ocean was dark with the whitecaps appearing faded like the shades of something out of a black and white film.
There was something there for me. There was something more than just a dream. There was me and the sea. There was a sense of familiarity. There was something here for me, which always meant there was something out there for me too.
Make no mistake, life is easily as tumultuous as a churning sea. The riots we see and the uproars; from the disturbances and the casualties all the way down to common adversities to the basic everyday occurrences that tend to trip us or create a strain, which deviates us from our course, these are all no different from the rage of the sea when the weather grows poor.
Fortunately, as rough as she becomes, she can also be as gentle as a Mother to her newborn as she rocks her child to sleep.
I have seen the troubled seas.
So have you
But rest assured, good days are ahead.
See, I always needed to find something to look towards even when I was a small boy. For me, my solace was in the ocean. My peace is in the waves way out there, somewhere in the distance beyond the ocean’s canyons.
If it is up to me then I will never die but instead, I will become part of her, same as she has is part of me.
Even as a little boy
The sea has always been there for me . . .