Last night we pulled into the dock at eventide. The sky was still blue, but the clouds were molting from fluffy white to pearlized pinks and deepening purples. As we maneuvered a sharp left into our slip I looked up and was momentarily caught. There was an occupant in the small craft next to us. I nodded to him, and he to me.
The boy is not new to me. I have seen him before. He is often part of a roving pack of teens that live aboard ships of varying levels of sea-worthiness. For our marina is a collection of flotsam and jetsam. Some large yachts, yes. But there are also holes in the docks large enough to demand attention, and floating sections that list to the salty sea as if permanently drunk. And boats to match.
The flotilla of derelict boats, I secretly believe, sails in the night. For the fleet is always present, but the formation shifts, individual boats never in the same slip as before. They are the sailboats that had high adventures years ago when owners thought they could afford them. Once well loved and now abandoned, they forlornly bob, lashed to cleats, waiting. Waiting.
But last night there was not just a boat, but the boy. Tan, with hair bleached blond by summer. Sitting aboard. Imagination unfurled. An approximate 14 year-old, a dignified captain. One hand lightly resting on the tiller, the other hand’s fingers entwined with the line tying boat to dock. As we bustled about packing up our day’s adventure, he surreptitiously moved dockside. But kept his hand on the rope. The boat is not his. He knows that. And yet she still calls to him. He had great dreams for that boat. Dreams I will never know. I am reminded of The Wreck of the Zephyr; of my friend Sara and her family, sailing around the Earth’s oceans; and I see, this is what dreams look like.
The twilight of summer is upon us. Autumn is quietly beginning to call in the lingering cool of the mornings and the rustle of back-to-school lists. Before the shadows of the fall fully descend, remember. Remember the childhood breeze of curiosity on your face. Remember the details of entire worlds of possibility. Remember the longing? The wanting? The wishing? Lean closer to your child. Can you hear their whispers? Watch quietly. Do you see the wistful face of a dreamer? Look in the mirror. Do you see your own? Twilight is the time to return to Neverland. Second star to the right, and straight on till morning. Rediscover your dreams, keep a light hand on the line, and keep me posted.