We live on an island. It's a big island, but an island, nonetheless. Surrounded by water with only three ways on or off. One bridge on the north end. A ferry in the middle. And a ferry on the south end. It's a short jaunt to any number of beaches or hiking. Sometimes we get fogged in by a marine layer that burns off in the afternoon or not at all. Things just move slower here. And I am always, always overcome with gratitude for my little town. I like that half the town shows up for high school football games. I like that I run into my dog's veterinarian at the gym one day and my kids' dentist the next. I like that the guy who roasts our coffee beans knows me by name.
All that began with me wanting to tell you that my husband and I took a ferry ride last weekend. He was selling a vehicle to a guy that lives on another island an hour-long ferry ride away. We drove on to the ferry and made our way to the passenger deck. I bought a little bag of mini pretzels from the vending machine and a little girl with snot dangling from her nose stared at me. I saw a dead seagull floating in the water (they float upside down, by the way).
When we got off the ferry we went and had some lunch then perused the used book store next door. The book store had been a house once and I just had to laugh when I saw that they displayed the cookbooks in what had been the kitchen. There were books everywhere, floor to ceiling, in stacks, in nooks, on shelves. In some places it almost seemed that the books themselves were holding up the main beams of the house. But it was clean and warm and inviting. I stood by the blue wood stove and warmed my hands while my heart smiled.
After meeting with the buyer and exchanging the vehicle, we walked to yet another book store and then a coffee shop. The proprietor of the coffee shop visited with my husband for awhile after supplying us with hot mochas. He had an interesting story, having been a barista in Seattle for a decade and settling back onto the island his family has lived on for a hundred and fifty years. We left and I visited the book store one more time before we headed down to catch the ferry. At the ferry dock an older woman befriended us and told us her story, more details than we cared to know, and some things I could never repeat. She was a dancer, she proclaimed. And I decided she had an artistic spirit.
The hour long ferry ride toward home was relaxing. We snacked on gummy bears and Chex Mix while working on one of the jigsaw puzzles on the passenger deck. We took turns with a Word Search book and I read my yoga magazine. Slowly the sky outside turned dark and the stars came out.
I think I could ride the ferry all the time, if I didn't have a job and responsibilities. Time stands still and all that exists is this big rumbling boat and the array of passengers on board. Sometimes the boat shudders, mainly when changing direction, and you are reminded that you are sitting in a brick of heavy metal on very deep and very cold water. Seagulls seem curious about the ferry and will glide alongside for a short distance. If you use the restroom on board you have to constantly remind yourself that you are on a boat or else you'll think you have a terrible case of vertigo. And it's fun to imagine stories for people, what their lives are like, where they are going, and wonder if they are doing the same about you.