Adventures of s/v WILD HAIR


Our land life took on form, solidity, routine. We had mastery of a limited set of skills. We had habitual expectations of others and ourselves. Going sailing, we let go of our attachments to our roles, views, and rituals. We persist because we are growing in this shapeless and dynamic world.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Exceptions to Life's Rules

While fixing our engine in Southport, NC, I needed to catch a ride into town to buy fuel and oil filters and four- amp fuses; I no longer shop for pearl earrings. The marina manager was unable to help me, but the man he was talking to--Brooks--said he could. Brooks, a dead-ringer to James Cagney, was a smallish, 70-ish, well-seasoned fisherman. I learned in that moment that getting into cars with strange men is something I do while cruising that I don't do at home.

Brooks, as it turned out, was not as he appeared. He was a retired newspaper publisher. In his life he had appointments lecturing at two law colleges, and was now a real estate tycoon. He had two Portuguese Water Dogs and (of course) "knew Ted's dogs." Evidently, he and the Kennedy's were neighbors and close friends up in Cape May.
Brooks had one arm, was blind in one eye, and had recently recovered from his second heart attack. He was just diagnosed with diabetes. No stranger to pain, Brooks had had throat cancer a decade earlier and didn't speak for 3 years. He informed me, “that was not easy for a man who bought ink by the barrel!" The man refused to give up smoking.

Brooks drove me all over the county looking for the endangered and elusive four-amp fuse. It took hours. He knew everyone in town. I was charmed.

At the end our shopping spree, Brooks gave me his car. Yes. He informed me that he lives on nearby Bald Head Island but keeps a vehicle on the mainland parked at our marina. As a member of the Island’s Fire and Rescue Crew, Brooks often makes the car available to islanders with medical concerns needing transport to the hospital. The car is always open, the keys are barely hidden. Generously, he offered me unlimited use of the vehicle while we were in port.

I learned a lot that day about the cost of keeping myself distant from strangers, safe. I am so glad our lives crossed with the innocence and fearlessness of children.

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