And it was the skeleton of a huge Sperm Whale that made me feel that way.
Thirteen years ago I took a boat to a little island I had only heard of. My sister Katy was with me. I had just made a decision that turned my life in a different direction. It was a hard choice but it led me to the future I now call home. I call him Craig.
So, to celebrate making it together for 10 years, I took him back to where it all began. For me at least, it began on this "little elbow of sand" off the coast of Massachusetts.
We ate what I ate, walked where I walked, and saw what I saw, as a twenty-year-old. For lunch, I had the same Bangkok Chicken wrap at Cook's Cafe right by Young's bicycle shop which was across the street from the Juice Guys who fresh squeeze watermelon on the spot and blend it with ice cream for the dreamiest summer sip you've ever laid your hands on. We stopped at Bartlett's beautiful family Farm for picnic fare and strawberries. We toured Jethro Coffin's home built in 1686. We dined at a candlelit Company of the Cauldron on our Anniversary (the 29th) where the harpist serenaded while we satiated. Just as she did on Katy's birthday 3 days (and 13 years) earlier.
We jarred our middle-aged rear ends as we cruised a cobbled Main Street and giggled at grown men in
We woke at 4:45 one morning to watch the sunrise on Jetties Beach only to be thwarted by Fog and mosquitos. But we were the only living things up at that hour except a deer we startled leaping over a hedge. Who ever heard of deer on an island?! If you think a skiff of sand that is only 5 miles wide and 15 miles long with no stoplights is quiet, try the same skiff at the break of dawn. I did, 13 years ago, dragging Katy from sleep out to catch the first light of morning before setting breakfast out for the guests at the Inn.
Somehow sharing this with my man made what felt like a dream seem very real and important. It is the same way I feel when I share any experience with him and our four children. Any time together feels very real and important.
On our last full day on the island, we decided to tour the Whaling Museum and brush up on our Nantucket history. Whaling is what put her on the map after all. We wandered through, browsing artifacts and chronology making our way into the main hall where we would sit and listen to the story of how one goes about catching, killing, and turning into fuel these 60-ton mammals. But, there, in that hall was something that wasn't there 13 years ago. Hanging above us the length of the whole room was that skeleton. 12 years ago, in winter, this whale washed up on Nantucket's shore and here it was that many years later hanging above us; the very winter that followed the summer I had spent working on that island.
Somehow this no-big-deal fact floored me. I felt, all at once, old and new and big and small and vital and very happy. I felt at the helm. Like I had jammed both of my harpoons into the black skin of the whale with all my strength and that my 10 or 20 fathoms of rope were whizzing out to sea just as fast as that whale could ride and I was holding on for dear life.
For...life is dear. It is, and every second of it becomes your history looming over you like some great whale skeleton. "So what?", you ask.
So...may as well make it a good story to tell. One worth revisiting again and again.