It was spring of 1982 and I was months from high school graduation. On the horizon was a summer serving as crew on a 101 ft schooner and the beginning of college in the fall. It was also a dull and dreary day sitting in the teeny boatyard office of the marine electrician where I worked as an assistant after school.
And then he walked by. Oh. My. God. He was tall and lean and tan with mussy sun-bleached blonde hair that curled at his collar, and he had the swagger of someone who’d been at sea for a long period of time. I jumped from my stool at the workbench and peeked around the doorway to see where he was going, eyes fixed on his firm tush. There was a sailboat in the sling a hundred or so feet away and he was talking to two men examining the keel.
Now I got a good front view. He clapped the boatyard worker on the shoulder then shook his hand with the confidence of someone who has negotiated deals. He was younger than I originally figured; perhaps in his early 20s. I stood on the stoop, openly staring at this Adonis.
He turned to the boat to examine the hull. My mouth began to water as I watched him begin at the bow and, inch by inch, run his hand slowly over the full length of her curved bottom. This was by far the most sensual thing I had ever seen. At the transom, he gave her a pat and then looked up, turning his full gaze on me.
My heart leapt into my throat and I almost cried out. I bit my lip involuntarily and he smiled, a huge wide grin that lit up his whole face. I felt my face flush and hurried back inside, mortified that I’d been caught gawking at him.
I didn’t see him again for three days although I made every excuse to do errands throughout the boatyard. I was consumed with thoughts of him and pulled out my tattered copy of “Dove” as he reminded me of Robin Lee Graham, the youngest person at the time to sail around the world. I’d found out that he and his father were headed south and beyond and were finishing preparations to leave before hurricane season in April.
I was sitting on a stool at the workbench, immersed in entering invoice details into a ledger when a rap on the open door startled me.
I turned to the unfamiliar voice and almost fell off my perch. His eyes were Caribbean Sea blue and, just like in the movies, he was casually leaning against the door frame.
I didn’t answer. I just stared. I was now in full blown infatuation with a complete stranger.
“I heard you have a Laser. My boat’s on the hard for awhile. Wanna take me for a sail?”
When they splashed “Saoirse” a month later I had my first heartbreak. I knew better than to fall in love with a sailor.
Written for the To Live & Write in Alameda June 2019 “Flash Lit” Challenge #9. We had three days to write a poem or short story (of 500 words or less) or create a piece of art to the theme “That Time I Knew Better” and post the link in our group.
Footnote: Oh, the fun we had for a few short months … sailing, beach picnics, surfing, making love on a spinnaker in a sail loft … I was smitten. Steve and his dad left in late March for Mexico. When he heard about my father’s death in the Double Handed Farallon’s Race he flew back to Alameda to take me sailing on our family boat, “Belfast Lady,” one last time before my mother sold her. I will always treasure that memory. We lost touch until 2008 when I randomly saw an obituary in the local paper for his ex-wife, who was tragically murdered by a former boyfriend. We reconnected and went sailing when he and his daughters moved to Alameda. We’ve remained friends ever since and I’ve recently had the joy of sailing with his youngest, who has the same passion for the sea as her dad. Oh, and today, October 15, is his birthday!