“I like the sea: we understand one another. It is always yearning, sighing for something it cannot have; and so am I.” ~ Greta Garbo


And yet one has these ‘glimpses’, before which all that one ever has written (what has one written?) – all (yes, all) that one ever has read, pales. The waves, as I drove home this afternoon, and the high foam, how it was suspended in the air before it fell…What is it that happens in the moment of suspension? It is timeless. In that moment (what do I mean?) the whole life of the soul is contained. One is flung up – out of life – one is ‘held,’ and then, – down, bright, broken, glittering on to the rocks, tossed back, part of the ebb and flow.

~ Katherine Mansfield, from a Journal Entry, 8 February 1920

“To stand at the edge of the sea, to sense the ebb and flow of the tides, to feel the breath of a mist moving over a great salt marsh, to watch the flight of shore birds that have swept up and down the surf lines of the continents for untold thousands of year, to see the running of the old eels and the young shad to the sea, is to have knowledge of things that are as nearly eternal as any earthly life can be.” ~ Rachel Carson


The Coast of Philip Island (Wikimedia Commons)

This word reminds me of a poem that I wrote when Corey and I first got together. We were spending the afternoon on the Outer Banks with the boys, and I was standing in the shoreline looking at Corey in the distance. It was in that moment that I realized that he loved me. This is a good memory.

“Beyond the East the sunrise, beyond the West the sea, And the East and West the wander-thirst that will not let me be.” ~ Gerald Gould

View from Castle Dunluce, Irish Coast

“We cross our bridges when we come to them and burn them behind us, with nothing to show for our progress except a memory of the smell of smoke, and a presumption that once our eyes watered.” ~ Tom Stoppard, Rozencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead

North Sea Dawn

I thought that I should probably post tonight as our Internet service will likely be going by the wayside anytime now. I’m just hoping that it stays on until Monday since Brett has a statistics paper that he must do, and he really needs to consult a few sites in order to complete it.

Corey has realized that even if Congress passes another extension on unemployment benefits, he will not be eligible as he is at the highest tier, meaning he has exhausted his time-limit. I really didn’t realize, or perhaps I didn’t pay that much attention, but unemployment figures are calculated by the number of people who file for unemployment. Right? Well, in order to keep those figures skewing lower, the government does not count those individuals whose unemployment benefits have expired but are still unemployed. If they did, then the figures would be much higher.

Also, some Congressman (don’t remember who) was saying that there really isn’t a need to extend benefits since the statistical trend is for people to find employment once their benefits expire. Well duh. Of course they find employment, but it is usually underemployment. For example, let’s take an individual who normally earns $50k a year. During the time in which benefits are available, the individual can keep looking in his or her field, trying to match or at least come close to a normal salary; however, once benefits end, that same individual is forced to take absolutely anything because absolutely anything is better than nothing.

Underemployment. Such a term. Such a slap in the face.

All of that being said, Corey hopes to hear from the port security folks by mid-week, and with any luck, Vane Brothers will complete their new vessel and have a need sometime this spring. All we can do is continue to hope as the alternative is grim.

“All changes, even the most longed for, have their melancholy; for what we leave behind us is a part of ourselves. We must die to one life before we can enter another.” ~ Anatole France

Waves and Mussels

I am feeling terribly melancholy today, not exactly sure why. It has been a very rough week emotionally, what with Alexis’s health, facing the next few months with a decided drop in household income, both Brett and I needing medicine. Sometimes it’s all just too much, and sometimes, it’s all just not enough.

That old saying about never being given more than you can handle? Bah, I say. I have been faced far too often with more than I can handle, and I can attest that it diminishes the self each time that it happens. The question becomes how to continue to throw oneself into the fray knowing that a battle may be won, but the war is far from over. It’s at times such as this that I wish I had a Henry V to rally me with a rollicking St. Crispin’s day speech: “We few. We happy few.” Oh well.

Corey and I were talking about age the other night, and I said that being in your twenties is almost worse than being a teenager because you still think that you know everything, only now you have some power behind you, which makes you dangerous. This statement was preceded by the declaration that I would not be in my 20’s again for anything. Corey said that if a good fairy came and said I will make you 20 again, that I would jump at the chance, and I told him quite honestly that I would not return to my twenties for anything, my thirties perhaps, but definitely not my twenties.

As I told him, I was pretty much insufferable in my twenties, head-strong with no wisdom to make me pause before speaking or acting. I’m not entirely sure that my current self would have been able to tolerate my 22-year-old self. But then, reflection does give one pause, doesn’t it?

“All day I think about it, then at night I say it. Where did I come from, and what am I supposed to be doing? I have no idea. My soul is from elsewhere, I’m sure of that, and I intend to end up there.” ~ Jalal al-Din Rumi

My friend Maureen and I have been bolstering each other with the sentiment that 2010 will be our year—a year of good change, a year of better circumstances, a year of  repair and restoration for the body and soul. I try to remind myself of that, but with it going into the second week of March, I realize that so far, 2010 is no better than 2009. I’m hoping that some of Maureen’s good fortune makes its way across the world to our abode. ‘Twould be nice.

Wave at Guadeloupe

And so I continue to move through the days, mostly aimlessly, often wearily, thinking myself much put upon, not really knowing what it is I am doing. The dust continues to settle about me, growing thicker with the days, a potent symbol of my disuse. The house continues in its decay, and I with it. We are linked, this house and I, in more ways than I care to admit: built during a time in which things were made to last, but not so well-tended in recent years; a solid foundation, but with chinks and cracks reflecting the settling of time, the encroachment of nature. With some care, we could possibly be bright again, but that care has been postponed and put on the back burner to await a time that is more convenient.

And as I so often find when I am melancholy, I think of the sea, its constant movement, the immense power, the vast stretches of nothingness. I think of my father, who spent almost his entire life on the sea. I think of the cerulean blues of the Caribbean, and the muddy greens of the Atlantic. I remember my graduate school office mate who came from Wisconsin and had never seen the ocean before, how we brought her to Norfolk for Thanksgiving and took her to the oceanfront, and how amazed she was by something I took for granted, and how I tried to see it through her eyes.

I remember my father telling me once that many men who used to work on the water would not learn to swim because they did not want that unendurable wait for exhaustion to overtake them before the sea finally swallowed them. I remember my mother’s neighbor fumbling into our house one December and crying out that she had just gotten the news that her husband had been lost at sea.

I think of Isolde looking out to sea from the windy Irish cliff, searching the sea for signs of Tristan.

Why do I think of these things now? I do not know. They just come to me, and then they recede from memory again like the tide. And all that is left are fading footprints in the wet sand where someone walked but a moment ago, the foamy edge of the receding water, and the stark cry of gulls in the air above.

More later. Peace.

“My Face in Thine Eye” from Tristan and Isolde movie soundtrack

All images taken from Wikimedia Commons.


Captain Corey
Captain Corey

After being home with me for many long months, my husband is about to go back to work again. We are both conflicted about this change. I know that it is well past time. He has been increasingly antsy and impatient, and we have been sniping at each other over insignificant things since I finished school. It’s not that we don’t enjoy each others company, but he had a mission before when he was out of work: to help me get through school, and that mission has been accomplished. And he has accomplished his own mission–to finish the training that he needed to upgrade his license so that he could get back on a boat. So we both know that it is time. But after being together daily for such a long period, it is going to be quite an adjustment for the whole family.

I used to say that the only reason that my parents stayed married for so long was because my father spent so much time at sea and so little time on dry land. He was in the Navy for 20 years. He retired and tried to work at a job on dry land and hated it, so he joined the merchant marines. He sailed all over the world; his boat was even hit during the Viet Nam war. He worked on big boats until he was 67. He tried to retire when he was 62, but he just couldn’t do it. Not working drove him crazy, so he went back to work for another five years. He finally retired at 67 and spent the last six years of his life fishing and gardening, and he and my mom spent that five years in an uneasy kind of detente. It worked for most of the time, but then there would be flair ups, and I would be the U.N. It was like that for most of my life, but by that point, I had gotten really good at it. But my father was never comfortable anywhere except at sea. Anyone who really knew him, understood that about him.

I wouldn’t say that about Corey. He doesn’t sail on the big boats for months at a time. He is on near coastal tug boats for weeks at a time. That I can handle. I can understand the call of the sea myself. I am comfortable on the water. I love driving over bridges and looking out over the water when Corey is out and imagining where he is at that moment. The sea is alluring and hypnotic. I even toyed with the idea of buying a boat and living on it when I was in college–a Tartan 27′. To this day, I still wish that I had done it, but the more practical side of me won out. But that is why I understand why Corey likes his time on the water and enjoys his job, and I don’t begrudge him that time. I do worry because it isn’t a typical 9 to 5 job in any sense of the word. But I know that’s part of the appeal for him. And so I know that he needs to go back to his boats for himself just as much as he needs to go back to work for the family.

Which brings me to another point. My sons love Corey intensely. He has been there for them since they were in grade school. My older son in particular relates to his step-father very well, and he is at an age at which he would rather go to Corey than me when he has a problem because, well, I am female, and therefore, I supposedly do not know anything about his problems. I understand my son’s reluctance and am glad that he feels this closeness with my husband, his step-dad. It was one of the things that endeared me so much to Corey, how well my children adopted him. That was a prerequisite for my bringing someone into our family in the first place. But it was my oldest son’s easy love for Corey that showed me what kind of man he really was.

The separation from their father was very hard on all of us, and I did not date anyone seriously before Corey. In fact, I only went on a few dates as I really was not looking for nor expecting anything, so my connection with Corey was unexpected and surprising, mostly because of the difference in our ages. I deliberately did not introduce him to my children for a while as I did not know where things were going, but once I did let him get to know my kids, they began to open their hearts to him after their initial trepidation, and he did the same. I won’t try to tell you that the road has not had its bumps and curves because of course, it has. But he has learned from them, and they from him. So when he first started to go to sea, it was an adjustment for all of us, and they would count the days just as I did.

Now that he is going back, part of my anxiety is how Eamonn will act with Corey not at home. I am hoping for the best, but not expecting it. But I will try not to be a pessimist and give Eamonn the benefit of the doubt, so I must wait and see how things play out. Things will be new for all of us. Corey will be with a new company. I will be taking care of my own health problems and the house and the boys. The boys will be handling things with just me, just mom as mediator. And for a few weeks at a time, it will just be the boys, the dogs, and me. I’m sure we’ll be fine, and if not, I’m sure you’ll hear about it . . .