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There came a point when the routine of my life began to annoy me. Don’t get me wrong. It was a lovely routine that involved the blessings of children, but with that came dishes and shopping carts and lots of time in a car. I understood the need and comfort of it all and even thanked God for it, usually on Sundays at ten o’clock.
I began to regard this ordered life with a sense of claustrophobia, like living in an alley. A beautiful alley, but still it had narrow walls and shadows and, for some reason, I kept gazing toward the light and water of a distant world that taunted me with an attitude of don’t think for one minute that this is for the likes of you.
So I stayed in the comfort of shadows and busied myself by keeping my alley nice and clean, knowing that I was safe and acting reasonable. And I kept my dreams at bay. But once in a while I’d catch a glimpse, as I rested my chin on the broom handle, of this boat that kept crossing my narrow view. Its name Adventurer was scrawled across its bow with a flourish. I resented his fanfare and intended to tell him so, so I began to inch toward the opening, one hand on each wall to steady me in my boldness and was careful not to make noise or startle the mice that had made a nest at the base of the opening.
I stood for a moment, when I finally felt the sun on my face, and breathed in the cool salty air of the sea. With my eyes clamped shut I listened to the sounds of birds and laughter and it reminded me of the summer I turned eighteen. All I wanted to do was get on that boat and sail away.
Then it occurred to me with sudden, sickening clarity (like the day I realized Santa’s beard was fake) that my alley had no door. It never had. All those years I had been carrying around a make-believe key. And I wondered how it was that I just assumed that we, my children and the man I loved, would be safer in the beautiful alley, painted the color of routine, than on a boat with a name etched in handwriting that must have come from a king.
I called to the captain, a swarthy young lad in a red striped shirt and asked if he had room for four. With merely a nod he welcomed us as we climbed aboard with unsteady feet and sat, with held hands tight, four across on a flat wood board. As we steered out toward an uncharted sea, the sun slid down the sky and exploded into sunset, and we agreed that we had never seen such majesty and color. And with a new content and hopeful sighs we lifted our faces to the rising moon and waited to see the stars.