I want a boat. My husband agrees, on alternate Saturdays. My youngest daughter thinks I’m crazy. It’s expensive, mom! There’s storage and maintenance! Not to mention the danger of the Alanuihaha – a channel not to be trifled with on the best of days. Yet I so yearn to be on the water in a visceral sort of way; long to motor up the coast to cast eyes back on the verdant-crested rugged shoreline of this, the Big Island.
As a child growing up in the foothills of the San Gabriel mountains during the 1950’s, I exercised a great deal of freedom, especially compared with what children must endure today. Lack of safety in our neighborhood was absolutely a nonissue. I remember walking barefoot to Hamilton Park several blocks away, clad only in my favorite baggy seersucker shorts. That memory, then, must harken back to before I developed breasts, yet I still recall the embarrassment of older boys teasing me for going topless. The day I donned a t-shirt officially drew the curtains on my childhood.
I did, however, recapture that carefree prepubescent audacity when I was allowed, from time to time, to perch on the faded red prow of our Chris-Craft as she parted the waters, both salty and fresh. Leaning back while holding onto the chromed line cleat with my right hand, the thrill of cruising at top speed while dragging my left through the blue of wake proved indescribable. The day my father was apprehended by the Coast Guard for letting us kids ride atop her in this manner marked passage of a different sort. I began understanding curtailment of liberty.
In a life fraught with challenges and changes, a boat somehow seems a justifiable luxury. And yet the wisdom of an adult baby girl rings in my ears: attending to yet one more weighty responsibility may well offset any lasting pleasure derived from an occasional foray into the Pacific. Swimming, on the other hand, is free – and I feel delightfully unencumbered and unafraid in deep water. Perhaps it’s why I’ve postponed the boat thing, lo these seven years. Still, the temptation remains. Am I trying in my own offbeat way to recapture youth? The very thing I deem impossible; even a waste of time? Or is my body, itself mostly water, merely yearning to bask in its own element in these shifting sands of time?