Wednesday, June 15, 2011

That Old Boat

I was reading a blog the other day from someone reflecting on turning 40. Like her, I remember getting ready to turn 40 and thinking, HEY! No big deal. It’s just another number, just another day. It’s not like I’m dying here. In the front of my mind I kept insisting that it wasn’t a big thing. There was no big party with black balloons. No, “LORDY, LORDY, TIM’S TURNING 40!” banner.

I can’t say there wasn’t a part of me that didn’t recognize the roundness of that number. 40 is round. 50 is rounder. Now that I’m 54 (the same day that Bob Dylan turned the big round 70), 40 isn’t quite as round as it once was.

The other day we sold our old boat. The boys were both happy about it because we went and got ourselves a bigger, nicer, faster, used boat. It will have the wake they need for better wake boarding. It has a really nice sound system compared to our old boat. It is fast and clean and shiny and… newer. It is so nice that we have to build a shed to house it in. No more just putting the tarp on it and parking it in the woods.

I kept it to myself, but I was sad at selling that old boat. It held such important memories. We got it when our boys were quite young. I remember vividly the days when they were little guys and we taught them to water ski. And every year when we put it into the water for the first time, we’d clean it out, polish it up. When they got a little older, and skiing was passé, we installed a wake board tower. Their first wake board was simple with bands that held their feet in place. We celebrated every little hop over the wake. And every year we watched the boys get better and better.

I watched Heidi ski every year on that old boat, marveling at her grace and beauty as she sliced through Lake Murray, never falling, and how she never got her hair wet, and how she smiled when she cut through that water. And it always made me think of how she taught me to slalom ski all those years ago when we were in college.

Whenever that old boat was broken, we would fix it. When the wood got soft on the back of the seat cushions, I replaced it. Whenever something happened with the engine (about once a year) we had it fixed. I replaced the lights on that old trailer a couple of times.

I know it’s silly, it’s just another possession, one more thing in a life filled with stuff. But it held such memories. Devin and his girlfriend hung out with us all the time when they were younger. Colin and his best friend Reid kept pushing each other to outgrow themselves as wake boarders. We fished, and watched the purple martins flocking and swarming over the big island and watched countless sunsets from that old boat. We hauled it with us on vacations. We snoozed and picnicked and drifted and dreamed in that boat. We watched our boys grow up there. But it is just another thing.

We put it on Craig’s List and a guy came from Camden to check it out. I know it’s weird, but it was important that I like him. We weren’t just selling him an old boat; we were selling him a bunch of memories. I did like him. A lot. He has two boys of his own and he asked all the right questions and when he talked to his wife on the phone he was really excited and sweet. He told her he loved her before saying goodbye. Right in front of me. I liked that.

So we have a new boat now. It is in the shop (of course). And I know that we’ll make memories in it. But the boys are older now. I’m sure they would rather be out in that new boat with their friends than with their parents. I would feel the same way probably if I were them. But they won’t lose teeth in that boat, or picnic as much with us. They won’t be as amazed at the birds or love just drifting around sharing stories as much as they used to when they were little.

Selling that old boat was just another symbol for the passing of time, just another age and stage. Heidi will still water ski gracefully, but more and more it will be just the two of us. And that’s OK too. Devin and Colin are men. And I love them for who they are right now. But I will always miss those little boys. I will miss that time when they saw wonder in everything, when there were so many firsts in their lives, when we were the most important people in their lives, when they looked forward to spending a day on the lake with us.

It seems like James Taylor had it so right when he wrote about the Secret O’ Life.

The secret of life is enjoying the passage of time

Any fool can do it

There ain't nothing to it

Nobody knows how we got to

The top of the hill

But since we're on our way down

We might as well enjoy the ride

The secret of love is in opening up your heart

It's okay to feel afraid

But don't let that stand in your way

'cause everyone knows that love is the only road

And since we're only here for a while

Might as well show some style

Give us a smile

Isn't it a lovely ride

Sliding down

Gliding down

Try not to try too hard

It's just a lovely ride

Now the thing about time is that time

Isn't really real

It's just your point of view

How does it feel for you

Einstein said he could never understand it all

Planets spinning through space

The smile upon your face

Welcome to the human race

Some kind of lovely ride

I'll be sliding down

I'll be gliding down

Try not to try too hard

It's just a lovely ride

Isn't it a lovely ride

Sliding down

Gliding down

Try not to try too hard

It's just a lovely ride

Now the secret of life is enjoying the passage of time


Meesh Hays said...

Another glimmer of hope: You'll make new memories with GRANDBABIES on the new boat. (As I hear it, they are even better than babies.) Your boys will bring home their broods and let you and Heidi spring for gas and a day on the Lake. You might be too old to hit the wake yourself, but you'll get to watch your boymen teaching and raising and loving their own little people on the water. Won't that be glorious?

And I bet they wear lots of sunscreen when they come to pawpaw's house.

Tameka said... have such a way with words! I love getting a glimpse into what your life is like with your family. Sometimes the thought of Alani getting older and outgrowing Mommy makes me feel sentimental. Thank you for being such an inspirational writer and friend. I'm still trying to figure out how to "follow" your blog.

Chris Hass said...

Is this your mid-life crisis boat? It's sleeker and faster with a better sound system. I'm just sayin'.

I'm with Meesh. You'll grow lots of new memories. I can't wait to see it. If you're building the shed yourself and need help I'd be glad to bring a hammer and pitch in.

Scott and Malisa Johnson said...

A few months ago we sold Scott's truck. It was too small for our family, it got horrible gas mileage, and it wasn't like we ever used the truck bed to haul anything around.

But he picked me up for our first date in that truck. And drove it across the country with my dad when we moved. He and I made many trips up and down the central valley in California visiting our families in that truck.

And about time... I was having the same thoughts earlier this evening. Time is a funny thing.