With all of the coverage over the last week leading up to yesterday’s 10-year anniversary of the terrorist attacks on the United States, the world probably doesn’t need one more blog about the impact of this shattering event on one life, even one as fascinating as mine. So rather than recalling where I was when I first heard what had happened a decade ago yesterday (waking up to get ready for my second day of business school) or musing about how it felt to be an American in Canada yesterday (like a wolf without her pack), or pondering the tears that welled up as I sat in the park late in the day and read the names of those whose lives were lost… rather than any of that, I think I’ll write about my adventures last week on the high seas.
“This isn’t the high seas,” I was gently reminded as I clutched onto the railing of the sailboat gliding slowly along the calm waters of English Bay late Friday afternoon. I’d been invited to partake in a 3-hour sailing tour by a new girlfriend of mine, who’d won the outing at a charity fundraiser last year. She’d sent the invitation out to a few of her gal pals earlier in the week, and with what was likely just a few days left of the nicest weather of the year, I couldn’t resist the idea of donning my finest Tommy Hilfiger attire (not that I own any, but humor me) and Top-Siders (again, not in my wardrobe), setting sail with Gilligan at the helm to end a hard work week with a cool beverage in hand, and viewing the shoreline from a different perspective than my usual perch on Locarno Beach. What’s more, this was a chance to broaden and deepen my circle of friends in Vancouver, something I’ve committed to this year. So I jumped on the invitation without a second thought.
Though at second thought, a second thought might not have been a bad idea.
Especially since that second thought might have been, “But I always get seasick on boats.” Always.
I’ll admit, I knew it was a possibility, but it had been so long since I was last out on a boat, I thought that maybe something in my internal workings had changed, and that with the power of positive thinking, accompanied by my trusty anti-motion-sickness wrist bands and a half a Gravol, I could overcome any potential nausea that might flare up.
Ah, were it only that simple. The truth is, I get seasick on rafts in swimming pools. But the lure of this social scene was so strong, I believed that mind would overcome matter, and off I went.
I noticed my confidence starting to crumble before we’d even left the dock, when the captain, an affable fellow with just the tiniest resemblance to Bob Denver, shepherded us into the cabin for a “safety meeting.” Couldn’t we have gone over this information on the dock, I asked nervously, while I hesitantly leaped onto the small boat, not quite the 200′ craft whose deck I’d envisioned lounging on when the invitation first came.
Happily, once we started moving, I had a sense that I might be alright after all. I offered up my iPhone to provide the music through the boat’s sound system (snazzy!), grabbed a seat up in the part in the back of the boat near the wheel (whatever you call that – too many silly words for things on boats that I’ll never learn), and visited away. I was a sailor after all! The wind tipped the boat slightly back and forth as we made our way through the False Creek channel, and I laughed along with my host and her four other girlfriends who’d made it for this trip, dipping chips in guacamole and imagining I was Diane Von Furstenberg out with her drinking buddies. Life was good.
And then…not so much. Once we were out on English Bay, the wind picked up and so did my gastric acid. We were intentionally going slowly so as not to cause the cocktails and snacks to slide around, which I appreciated, but I had a sense that the faster we went, the better I’d feel. Oh well, next time I’ll pick a racing yacht. This time, we meandered here and there, and I found a perch from which I could simply stare out at the horizon. My socializing capabilities abruptly disappeared… I couldn’t seem to form any words. I just did my best to smile and listen to the others, while silently wondering why I hadn’t had the foresight to wear something to match the shade of green that my face was most certainly turning.
The horizon was, of course, stunning, which did take some of the sting out of the whole situation. But not much. I looked at my watch. Only two hours and forty minutes left before my feet hit dry ground. I was determined to survive.
When two of the gals decided to take a dip in the water, they sweetly checked with me to make sure I’d be okay if we stopped the boat – of COURSE, go ahead, I said, please don’t let me stop you. Actually, I don’t think I said anything – I just motioned with my hand in the universal “Go ahead” gesture, for fear of what might happen if I opened my mouth. Not to be too graphic or anything…
The swim happened – I was focused on the horizon – the swim ended – we started sailing again – I tried to focus – and then the moment I had dreaded was upon me. It was time. I stood up, walked calmly and quietly to the back of the boat, trying my best not to draw attention to myself, and in what I choose to believe was complete privacy (as the others were occupied with their clinking of champagne glasses and the like), I frowed up.
As pathetic as it sounds, I felt like a million bucks when I stood up. I was a new woman. I was even able to talk again. A million bucks, I tell ya. Granted, I was dehydrated and shivering uncontrollably, but fortunately I was in the company of very nurturing women who took wonderful care of me, bundled me up, and brought me water. Then Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell started singing “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” through my iPhone, and I belted along with them… life had returned.
As we watched the most gorgeous sunset of the year, I realized with great joy that the boat was heading back into the channel. I had made it. I had survived my trip on the high seas. And that, my friends, is one for the books. Hallelujah.