By Kenneth Stepp
Ever been on a cruise? Most have and most love them. I’ve been on just one. It was a Disney cruise my wife and I took the kids on years ago. This cruise made me want to go on more. But things didn’t work out. The kids grew up and our marriage ended after 24 years of “bliss”. Relationships end. Some end with a crash and burn. Some with a level of civility that infuriates those who were instigating the breakup. And make no mistake. There are always spectators secretly or brazenly hoping for a crash. Perhaps the flames warm their cold hearts. I’ve been married twice. Both of my exes are my friends and I still care about them and always will. For the audience who stood and cheered the breakups. I make no apologies for keeping things civil. With my last and longest marriage. We had a blessed life by most accounts. Lots of money, stuff, and social standing. But unseen by others. Our boat had some major leaks in it. In the end. Our Love Boat finally succumbed to the rising internal waters and the crash of waves hitting it’s side. Although we both tried to save it. Maybe we weren’t working on it at the same time. Who knows what might have happened if we put our best into it together?
Flash forward five years later. My ex works four jobs to afford a lifestyle that I wish she would let go of. The thought of her trading her life for “stuff”, is hard for me to watch. For myself, I live a simple life. I have a nice house, in a great area, drive a truck I enjoy traveling in, and miss nothing about my old life. Well. Other than one giant thing. I miss being midship with my partner, making things work, partnering in everything. Life was better and easier. I say it all the time about finances. “When two are pulling the cart, it’s half as hard and twice the fun”. Fun. I remember… Having a mate is amazing. Or I remember it was. Now. I have a roommate. We cook, shop, eat, and have fun together. And unless I get out there searching for my soul mate again. A house mate will have to do. I love being part of a tribe. My roommate and I are there for one another. She has a bad date and we talk about it. I try and fail again with someone. We talk about that too. But this isn’t the same as having my shipmate. We aren’t keeping anything afloat. We are just doing life. Getting past each day hoping the next brings less pain, less loneliness. Our boats are in dry docks separately. We’re on dry land with only a memory of the open sea.
Why do I use a boat as an analogy? Because a boat can be carried by a ship. That’s the difference between the two. One is small enough to be carried, one is large enough to carry a smaller one. If you were ever on a Naval ship. They are cold and impersonal. A boat is intimate. Two people doing life. One responsible to and for the other. On a ship, you have something that looks more like a floating city. On a boat. Every inch is known by those traveling on it. On a ship, on a day when the sea is calm, you feel as though you are on land. On a boat, even in the calmest seas, you feel everything. You know you are on that boat. If you can’t feel them, you shouldn’t be on the boat. The wind, waves, and vision are all punctuated. It’s real. You feel alive. The last time I was on a sailboat, I remember how it felt to feel all that power without the noise of an engine. Love is like that. In a relationship that is powered by real, unconditional love. You feel that power. It’s quiet and subtle, but you feel it. To go years without even thinking that your partner may leave, change, or just vanish. You have an anchor. In today’s single journey. This will seem impossible. We get knocked down, let down, lied to, and crossed up. But we stand back up, dust off, and do it again. Hoping the next time we give all. The next one will climb on board the boat and begin sharing their life equally with us. I have memories of that boat at sea. My Love Boat. I’ve been on it again. And again. I’m back dockside. Patching my hull and preparing to yet another voyage. As for my shipmate… I hope she’s out there. I hope she wants forever too. I hope. And sometimes that’s all we have…
“in a world
― Sanober Khan