I confess: there is a pile of half finished blog posts curled up and napping in files on this computer. Stories of riotous singing in Naples, of Turkish baklava and balloons floating in the sunrise, of swallows who dip so close to your face you can see the way the wind tugs their little feathers as they rush by.
But I’ve always found chronology to be overrated, linearity even more so. Life is short, be asymmetrical. So, I’m going to let those stories snooze a little more and tell you, instead, where we are today.
First let me start with how we arrived here. A visit from Paul’s family — mom, step-dad, and sister. A week in Florence, then a week in Greece, where they had never been. Paul organized everything and found us some idyllic island towns in the Ionian islands, on the Italian side of Greece. Turquoise waters, wandering, lazy fish, glittering rows of little sea-port tavernas. One day, we even rented a boat for the day, a little one with a 30HP motor, and zipped around one corner of our little island, Ithaki, dropping anchor on beaches and jumping out to swim. I was captaining for the day, and there were two moments that shine out from what I consider to be a perfect day.
The first was at the end of the day, when we dropped “anchor” (a little 5kg weight that seemed far too easy to toss) at our final beach, a beautiful little cove not too far from port. We were almost out of gas, so we’d decided to swim one last time and then putter our way home. The wind was starting to kick up, as it does in the afternoon on nearly any ocean, it seems. As I swam along the rocky edges of the cove, looking for fish and dodging lazy jellyfish, I glanced up to see the boat whipped around by a gust of wind, tugging at its line. I frowned and kept looking. It whipped the other direction, pulling again, juddering with the ragged little chop that the breeze ruffled up around it. I started to swim toward the boat when it spun again, this time visibly scooting away, out of our little cove and toward the ocean. I swam harder now, and tried to keep my voice relaxed when I called out, “I think the anchor isn’t holding.” Turns out, Sarah (Paul’s sister) can sprint-swim pretty impressively when motivated, so we boarded our swirling, tugging boat and stood guard until the rest joined us. By the time we pulled up the anchor and coaxed our nearly-empty engine into life, the anchor was swaying merrily through the ocean, unencumbered by the sandy bottom, and we had cleared the rocky arms of the cove entirely.
After a few moments of discussion of the best fuel strategy (go slowly to save fuel, or go as fast as possible to make it back), we went as fast as possible back to the port. We ignored the sputtering of the engine when we’d hit a wave and the tank would slosh empty, pretended not to be relieved when it revved again.
And then, the second moment that I remember best— returning to port. That feeling that is always the same feeling, pulling around the last outcropping and tucking into a harbor thick with swaying masts and people hauling up lines on their boats, or sitting on the roofs of cabins watching the golden light pull closer off the hills. It’s the same feeling no matter where you are in the world, coming to harbor. A swell of welcome, something that a lot like love, like a wave picking you up and pushing you forward, skating along toward the bustle and lights of home.