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The apartment is quiet. I breath in slowly, holding it a moment before letting it out. I breath in again and close my eyes.
What separates me from the great explorers? Are we not all voyagers? Am I any different in substance and character then the captains of old? Crusty souls, masters on open seas, with nothing but gulls to mock their misadventures and palms to hail their gold. They hungered deep within their hearts for other treasures, too. Love, beauty, freedom
I breath in and the sound of my heart beats in the distance.
I stand, eyes closed and breath in again. The clock ticks in the kitchen. I hear the rattle of the blinds as the wind slips in. This time comes the scent of the sea. I wait, breathing silently, until the ocean spray touches my face. It heightens my awareness of the flapping sails. I stand ever so still. Breath in, breath out. Tack lines move across my feet as they feed out. This helm holds the trails of so many hours in my pacing.
The wood of the wheel has a warmth to it beneath my palm. Worn, warped, mine. I stroke it fondly for it is my companion, as much as, the means to find my way. Tidal currents move at angles on the water ahead, but I hold the wheel steady. The ocean moves beneath me and I’m terrified by what I cannot know or see and exhilarated with equal passion.
The sextant, too, feels substantial and weighty in my hand. I bring it up to my eye and hold it steady on my future. It is distant, but objects within are clearer to me now. I can set my mark. Breath in. I am not as far off course as I thought. Breath out. A few calculations in my sea journal and I move the wheel slightly to starboard. The spray rises and the wind fills the sails. That distinct flapping comes to my ear, as a switch of an ignition somewhere in my mind. I hold my breath and listen. The rhythm of the hull rising on the sea surf, then dipping below the horizon with a soft flop.
My heart beats in the distance.
The salt and the sea now envelope me. I run my hand lovingly across my map. A map built in sweat and love, tears and anger, missteps, wrong turns, high flying freefalls and laughter. Yes, a rich laughter, indeed. My map. My life is lines of longitude and latitude and strange sea monsters with lolling tongues. Or are they guardian angels? I’ve forgotten or can’t remember. I have been adrift many times. Always, at some point, I catch a wind and find land to regroup and set out again.
Breath in. Breath out.
The sound passing my lips is the only sign the ship is in motion. I look up. Orion is on the horizon. I am a star gazer and my ship has many ports still to see. Master of my destiny, I am. I breath deeply one last time of the saline sweet air. I lay the sextant down, loneliness settling where it filled my hand. The clock ticking in the kitchen persists. Blinds rattle in the dirty apartment windows. My heart beats steadily in the distance. The map folds close as eyes open.
Breath in, breath out.