Who the hell do I think I am. And other self centered opinions you should know about.
Copenhagen. My bags are packed, taking up space in the corridor. J is away for the weekend, she won’t wave me good bye at the airport she won’t know tears are rolling down my cheeks even though I’m not crying. We came to the conclusion that this is it so I’ll do what broken hearts should always do, go sailing again.
As I drive to the Falmouth harbor, I see the road side barbeques smoking, the kids running and the old timers sitting on that same bench talking and laughing off their broken tooth mouths. I have none of that good comfortable joy you feel when seeing an old friend.
Fucking broken heart, it must be worse than I thought.
I’m joining a boat here bound to circumnavigate the world retracing Magellan steps. He died in the Philippines did you know? In a knife fight. Even though he was an expert blade handler. Good sailor that.
On deck they’re looking at Antigua I’m sure, they’re expected in the harbor within the hour. Me I would be expected to be drunk so I’m at the bar. Even the rum doesn’t taste that right. Stirred and shaken. Seems there is no point in that either, rum shouldn’t go to waste. I drift on my thoughts as I often do, there isn’t much that cheers me up and I don’t even feel like being cheered up.
What an ungrateful bastard. I get a job in a few days get flown to a paradise island simple as that and still I feel miserable. That isn’t fair on me or the rest of the world is it? What have I become. Later I would remember the phrase of a heart I broke when I threw at her face the argument that we are spoiled westerners and sadness is the most ridicule feeling. It isn’t because our life is sweeter than our pains and aches should hurt less. Or something like that.
When I meet the crew, they’re hungry for land. No surprise after an Atlantic crossing. Too us it is a night of excess. Copious amounts of Alcohol, sex if you can still stand when the occasion comes around and often drugs.
The boat is squared out hastily as I hop on. The cabin fever fueled banter and the promises to drink the island dry are skyrocketing.
I take one look at the chef and I know. I know we like life the same way. The food, the booze, a big guy with a laugh that will carry through the night. He’s more Italian than pasta, more vocal than Pavarotti and just more in general. That shall make a fine pair. I’m French.
The captain, I take one look at him and I know. I know one of might end up like Magellan. Rawboned and dry as the rollies he chain smokes. He’s boasting too hard, forces his laugh and thinks he’s got wit. Your guess? Well yes he’s English of course. I’m French.
In the bar we roll, Past 5 o’clock it’s already dark and the bars are filling up. The mad mongoose will be the first of many stops.
Until you’ve experienced a Caribbean rum cocktail you may not know what a strong drink is. You can hardly put the first one away without wincing, the second one gives you the buzz and after that no one cares what they’re drinking.
Then there’s the girls, our boat girls, the interior crew. They’re a crazy sweet bunch. Until they reach 35 or so. Some exceptions apply but the best before date is a well known fact.
I spot our two girls in the dim outdoor light. The shorter one well is short to be fair. Skinny scrawny dark haired little pomi with a strong accent. Built like a tom boy.
As she turns around all I said above vanishes, swallowed whole by her lavish eyes that would fly away softly on those long eyelashes like dark silky butterflies. She disappears. I stare in the dark across that patio. Her tiny frame is standing in the shade of all these insignificant human forms around. As they move around her and shift on their feet the dull bulb cast its light on her every other second. I can’t tell if her dress is floating in the breeze or if she’s slowly swaying to the music that I can no longer here. Nor her, she’s too far. A flash of pale skin under her arm reveals that her dress is the only fabric covering her breasts, perking through as she laugh, head back and throat all out. Feels like the first time I breath in a while. The red of…
My drink goes flying, I shout out in surprise as a door lands on my back but with his other hand the chef shoves a new drink to my face and shouts “Morgan what you do? Come drink!” and like a spell lifted the music is back in my ears, the people around are in color again, the faces somewhat familiar. Was this drink number three already?
Cazzo mio I shout back, you spill my drink we must have shots! And off we go to the bar, in and among the rum drinkers. How many broken hearts could be in here right now I wonder?
The shots arrive along with the captain and mate, I signal for two more. Then each of us in turn would do it and the night became one big blurry party and no more butterflies.
Comes morning I establish two things. The whole crew is fucked, no surprise there. The boat is a piece of shit, no surprise there either, it’s Italian built.
Nevertheless I get on with it. The food is good, the evenings are entertaining and I try to catch a glimpse of those eyes every now and then. That’s enough to keep me occupied. That and a job list as long as my arm. That’s the thing with boats, always something to do. We’re planning the trip around the world. Where to sail to, where to stop and why, what can we get there and not there. Provisions, specialized engineering companies, specific brand of water, engine consumables, how reliable are delivery companies, how far a baksheesh can take you, is the area safe, do you have people there etc. All of that has to be taken into account. Then you have to plan for all that can’t be planned and that translates in time. The most expansive commodity, the only one the super rich can’t afford. And they crave it.
The trip is going to do me some good, clear my head, dust off the old memories to make room for new ones. Or so I hope. But it still sucks.
Alcohol euphoria is fun but that isn’t news. When thanksgiving came, eventhough no one is American any excuse to celebrate is good enough, I was thankful for the Atlantic being in between me and Europe. I wanted to run back to her at times, find a way, find the flame. I would have I fear if it hadn’t been for the ocean being there.
When the crew chemistry isn’t right, the team sucks as a whole but clan like friendships thrive. The chef and I were best buds. He had tales of a thousand women that he told me over impromptu wine tasting in the galley. As a matter of fact he was a father of 5 from five different mothers and they all knew eachother, two kids were born the same year and that happened twice. And every night he would be after more. He spoke like he breathed, to feel alive. people are fascinated by that, he could turn any argument into a joke, put a smile on any face. I think he could throw a punch too if need be.
That one night we’re heading back from a Casino in St Marteen and he starts haggling the driver to give us a better price the driver was pig headed and threatened to drop us off right here and then, Marco would apologize profuissly and then talk the price down in the same breath, leading to more shouting to what he said man, I’m sorry I joke it’s OK! is big drive! we need to argue about something or we fall asleep. So how much is best price?
More shouting. We paid in full and left a tip.