Decision #1: Forgiveness

9/9/20 Wednesday

Over the long weekend, we had the best sunny weather imaginable for the Pacific Northwest. But instead of joining the masses out on the water, the new kitten and I stayed put at the marina tackling a long list of boat maintenance projects that need to get done before the rains begin. While I labored away, Little Miss Butter Biscuit explored the dark recesses of the bilge and took long naps. We both had a lot of time to think.

I want to forgive my ex wife, for all the things she did to me, herself, and my son. However I’m not sure how to go about it. First of all, I tend to think of forgiveness as something that happens after the harm is done. But since we are still going through a difficult divorce, the pain is still present and raw. I wonder if I should wait until later. Also, I don’t know if I really can forgive her for what she did to herself or others, am I only able to forgive someone for what they did to me?

Endlessly I sand, varnish, sand and varnish. The sun burns my back and sweat drips down my face. The terns cry over and over from high above, and the kitten emerges surprisingly from the battery locker. I’m ready for peace, to let the bitterness go. I’m ready to forgive, but don’t know how. We close our eyes, and rock gently with the wind on a late summer afternoon, safe and snug in our little slip.

after-the-rain.org / Sleepy kitten on a boat

Light

8/31/20 Monday

It’s been a busy week or so, a good busy. Work, having fun with my son, and moving forward with divorce negotiations. Having plenty to do keeps my hands and head active, and creates a quiet place inside that I’ve been using to mull over a couple of big decisions. I’m not ready to write about them yet, so in the meantime here are a few photos from last week for you to hopefully enjoy, or at least provide a glimpse into our little corner of the world. Coincidentally, or maybe subconsciously, the theme seems to fit with my recent quiet ideas.

after-the-rain.org / Squishy sea creature
Squishy sea creature

after-the-rain.org / Barefoot on the beach
Barefoot on the beach

after-the-rain.org / Solo fishin'
Solo fishin’

after-the-rain.org / Camping night shadows

Quick camping getaway

after-the-rain.org / Field of sheep
View out the back

Sailing with Cookies

8/16/20 Sunday

The heat warms by bones, the wind fills the sails, and the water cools my fingers as I reach over the rail and drag my hand through the sea. It’s been busy lately, and if I’m not working the days are being spent camping, fishing, swimming, and sailing.

A year and a half ago when my ex-wife and I split up, I tried what seemed the appropriate response – I posted myself belly up at the nearest bar with a big mug of beer. Watching football and attempting small talk with the people around me, it was soon obvious that this was not the direction I wanted to go. Since then I hardly drink, don’t smoke, and drugs were never for me. I work out and stay active, likely to a fault. I run full steam ahead, because I’m afraid of falling back. Moving forward with whomever and whatever are still around me, I cherish my time on this planet and appreciate everyone and everything around me. The sun feels more intense, the water colder, the sky bluer, and these chocolate chip oatmeal cookies are next level as my little ship pushes forward through the waves of time.

after-the-rain.org / Cookies on the boat

Thanks Summer – Love, Me

8/7/20 Friday

A busy day at work, a busy day at life. I forgot about lunch until well into the afternoon. Fortunately there was leftover spaghetti in the fridge, plus a handful of juice boxes. I took my break outside, and the clouds pulled apart long enough to make a perfect moment, which is all I can really ask for at this place and time. There’s a lot of news about work, about the divorce, and tomorrow I plan to go sailing. But as autumn draws closer, I just pause to reflect on some of the summer moments and share a few random photos. When life seems to fall apart, there are still so many memories to enjoy and be thankful for..

after-the-rain.org / Looking for wind
Lookin’ for wind

after-the-rain.org / Dungeness crab
Lookin’ for Dungeness crabs (found lots)

after-the-rain.org / Sunset
About to go salmon fishin’ (got skunked)

after-the-rain.org / New friend
Found a new friend (got shredded)

after-the-rain.org / Mountain loop
Camping – Mountain Loop

after-the-rain.org / Swimming - Stillaguamish river
Swimming – Stillaguamish River

after-the-rain.org / Hiking near granite falls
Hiking – Near Granite Falls


after-the-rain.org / Kickin' back

New Critter

8/2/20 Sunday

Meet the new addition to our family, Little Miss Butter Biscuit. She is 11 weeks old, likes to shred things, and is always underfoot. Her specialty is attacking toes, eating, and purring on my neck. She is significant because she is a creature of the world, and deserves a shot at a happy loving life.

after-the-rain.org / New cat

She is also significant because I had planned on officially asking my ex-wife for custody of our son’s other cat which resides with her. This was sure to be a battle, a battle that our son ultimately didn’t need. So I love the other cat, and in a weird way I will always love the ex. But it’s time to move on with a new life, new pets, new dreams, and maybe one day with a little luck – a new love of my own.

Drifting

7/24/20 Friday

Went sailing the other day after work. I was a little nervous about it because of what happened last time, when the winds were stronger than forecast, and I putted back in with my tail between my legs. This time was pretty much the opposite – there was a small craft advisory in effect but when we got out there, I was fighting for every breath of wind I could. Almost dead calm. We limped along downwind at 2 knots, drifting. Now I know why I need a pole for the jib, and a good light-air sail. It was sunny and hot, absolutely roasting. I forgot to lift up the outboard, and the most exciting part of the adventure became leaning way out over the aft rail to clear mounds of eel grass away from the prop.

after-the-rain.org / Dropping sail

This week I had to work on preparing a final settlement offer for the divorce. It’s pretty much complete. Most everything of monetary value I worked for over the last 16 years will be gone one way or another, but I’ve already come to terms with that. It’s just the living beings that matter now – my son, the cats, the fish.

I will soon shed things, money, and the skin of my former self, my life as a devoted married man. Priorities will change, and the world will head in a new direction for me. It’s my nature to plan and dream about it, but I know better now. Whatever I think the winds may be, they will surely be unexpected. I have to live one moment at a time, and appreciate all that is, was, and ever will be. Turning around, perhaps for the last time, I’m leaning back over the aft rail, trying to set my boat free, so close, trying not to fall overboard..

Summer Afternoon at the Marina

7/15/20 Wednesday

North winds lately, the sign of good weather. After work, Day and I slip down to the local marina to try our luck fishing. We get snagged right and left, and catch no fish this time, although my boy almost hooks a pigeon and a seal that swam a little too close.

after-the-rain.org / Old dock pilings

I’ve felt a lot better the last few days, and have noticed a pattern. When my son is with me, I’m busy but happy and content. When he’s with his mom, life is easy but it feels like part of me is missing. I get low and it takes time for me to switch gears from being a Dad to just being… me. It’s such a big change.

after-the-rain.org / Fishing under the dock

It’s a summer afternoon, and life is a bit calmer than usual. The sand is warm and feels good on our feet. We play with old crab claws, look for sea glass, and watch the different boats go by. I have a fleeting thought. For a moment I want to think of myself as a marina – smelling a bit fishy, getting older and beginning to look a bit run down, growing a few barnacles, but still full of life, beautiful in its own way, and in general a fun place to be. I come back to the present and smile. We didn’t catch any fish today, but still got what we came for..

after-the-rain.org / Summer afternoon at the marina

Swayin’ with the Breeze

7/11/20 Saturday

I’m lying in a hammock, swaying with the breeze. Easy sounds drift across the water – laughter, seagulls, boat fenders rubbing against the dock. I smell the suntan lotion blend with salt and sweat on my shoulders. My eyes narrow, squinting toward the sun. It’s quiet inside, I feel my heartbeat.


I’m on Rainier. It’s April but might as well be February. Still dark, and we’re moving fast through the ledges by headlamp. My crampon dislodges a rock and instantly both feet hang in the air, but the handholds don’t budge. Lucky I guess. It’s quiet in the early morning mountain air, save for the rocks tumbling below. Inside, my head is pounding, and a minute later my body trembles uncontrollably.


We’re in the bedroom, I’m at the doorway. She’s yelling at me, her eyes like icy blue lightning. Somehow my ears close, her voice muffles, and I realize the cat is hiding under the bed. I feel the texture of the carpet with my feet and understand. I’m sure my eyes are open but inside I’m somewhere else, going from room to room looking for a bed to hide under.


I’m in the hammock, swaying with the breeze. But I’m a thousand other places, living a thousand memories, and dreaming up a thousand new ones. They come to visit, and I let them in to stay a while, then let them go. Now it’s the present, piercingly beautiful. I see schools of little silver fish, white terns flying high above, and a big fat seal swimming upside down rubbing his belly against the underside of the docks. In the distance there is laughter again. Inside it’s quiet and that’s ok for now. I feel my heartbeat.

after-the-rain.org / Hammock on a boat

Nerf Guns & Army Guys

7/5/20 Sunday

Just dropped Day off at his mom’s for the week. For now my time with him is over. Nerf gun battles, jenga blocks, lincoln logs, army guys, camping, fireworks, swinging in the new hammock – now just memories. Sunday handoffs are the hardest, it’s a time of transition, a time of change from being a single dad to just being….single.

after-the-rain.org / Empty hammock

Coming back to an empty house is hard. It’s tempting not to clean, not to do the laundry, not to eat. With no appetite I struggle to the kitchen and whip up a big slab of halibut, caesar salad and leftover mashed potatoes from yesterday. Feeling better, I can pause to think, and clumsily put together a post to reflect on the last week. My ideas crumble though, and am left with just a few thoughts of the present – It would be nice not to have to work this week. I have an overwhelming urge to climb a mountain, to sail, and to have a cup of coffee with a woman. My soul needs to connect with the world, to feel its love and pain wash through me like a wave.

This pressure won’t be contained forever. At some point I’ll need to break free, to stop fighting the current and flow with it, to resume growing into the man I was meant to be, with or without someone new in my life. Tonight I’ll do what I can, which will likely be stretching, breathing exercises, and reading before bed. I’ll do what I can to move through these hard days. I know I’m too sentimental. One thing I won’t do just yet is put away my son’s toys. I need that connection, even if it’s just to a memory, just a few more minutes..

after-the-rain.org / Nerf guns and army guys

Jumper

6/27/20 Saturday

I had a dream the other night. I was slowly driving onto an old wooden bridge, spanning a large ravine. The bridge used to be stable, but was old now and beginning to rot away. As it took the weight of my vehicle, the wood slowly began to buckle. I backed up, got out of the truck, and waited for the inevitable. Suddenly Sara appeared out of nowhere and jumped onto the bridge. She knelt down and held firm to a plank as the bridge began to crumble. She looked into my eyes and I could see the intention. As the bridge began to fall, she let go with one hand and reached out to me. I couldn’t help it, I jumped to take her outstretched hand.


Yesterday in real life I jumped off the dock onto my boat, and headed out to get a taste of single-handing in 20+ knot winds. From the spray on my face I can say it tastes salty, and from my motor quitting as I headed out of the channel I can say that at least for me it was frightening. I learned that when the boat heels over past 15 degrees, everything not secured in the cabin will crash to the floor, and that it would be better to get my reefing lines ready before I hoist the mainsail. I learned that in those conditions I should probably clip in to something secure in the cockpit, but the fact is I just can’t stand being tethered to anything, a fact which would probably be interesting to my therapist.

Eventually it was time to go in, so I pointed to the wind and raced forward to drop the sails before the bow could blow back around which could cause the sails to fill again which would buck me off like Fu Man Chu the rodeo bull. Then it was troubleshooting the motor while drifting toward a lee shore for extra excitement. Fortunately it was an easy fix, because the problem was with the boat heeled over, the gas in the gas can sloshed away from the fuel intake, which is something I had never thought of. With my tail between my legs I headed back to the marina and surprised myself by easing into my tiny slip without hitting the dock (this time) or the new $100k power boat parked next to me.

Jumping off, letting go, expanding my comfort zone, and change in general is difficult for me. But I know the best way to address fear is to look it in the eye and confront it, embrace it, and watch it disappear. Looking forward through life with optimism and confidence is the only way to keep growing, but I know it takes practice. So I fully expect to get my ass handed to me as my own fears are confronted, be it sailing or surfing large waves or relationships or removing the occasional spider from the bathtub. Holding tight to what matters, jumping off from the illusion of security, letting go of expectation.

after-the-rain.org / Resting in the cockpit