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.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

A Hole in the Roof

I have six holes in the roof of my house, but my favorite is the one over my bed. The hole is low, sitting just 30 inches above my mattress. More than two feet square, the opening is large enough for breezes to penetrate and take liberties. As I lay resting in the heat of the day, I grow intoxicated as tropical winds swirl the minute hairs on my skin and playfully caress my exposed self.

Rain falls every night through the hole startling Dave and me into a rush to close the gaps. I spin from my pillow, drop the screen, and undo braces supporting the hole’s watertight lid. There is always a moment of revelation during this drill when I find my head through to the outside, intimate with the foreign night. Disoriented, I suffer bites from icy bugs on shoulders, face, and arms before I realize I am baptized by the rain. Stumbling upon the uncensored world while vulnerable is a holly nightly sacrament. Personal boundaries melt as I awaken and absorb the world as it is. I find union between the untamed night and my unguarded interior. For a moment, we evolve together.

I live on a sailboat in the Caribbean Sea. Over time I have developed histories with every part of my vessel, but it is the hatch over my bed that breaches my shell provoking an altered point of view. Sometimes, it can be a portal toward peace in a state of uncertainty.

On New Year’s Eve in the Bahamas several years ago, our vessel was disabled in a storm. Anchors would not grab to keep us safe even though we had tossed three at various angles and distances. As the wind drove, the jagged shoreline possessed gravity, drawing the boat toward sharp rocks and certain doom. My husband sat on guard; I was assigned to rest. As the boat tossed, I lay on my back looking through the opening watching the light atop our mast scratch rhythmically against Orion’s belt. The motion was hypnotic. The immensity of the universe penetrated my awareness, fears melted, and I grew calm. I saw danger and safety as two sides of the same moment. The crisis would resolve.

I cannot always be made porous; sometimes, it is necessary to seal myself from the world. Years back, my hatch leaked miserably in a seemingly endless drizzle soaking Annapolis, prompting us to sleep among pans and under a plastic cloth. Every morning I awoke delighted I hadn’t suffocated in the improvised bedding. It took time to invent an opportunity to learn how to re-bed the hatch without splintering fiberglass and bending stainless. After many drip-filled months, we mastered the task under the tutelage of a salty Floridian; he revealed the secrets of rubber mallets, wedges, mahogany sticks, mineral spirits, and silicone.

It is the interruption in the cocoon of the hull that breaks old habits, shifts my viewpoint, and dares me to embrace new relationships with creation.

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