MONTREAL

MONTREAL  // MAY 14

We ate and drank our way through Montreal. My mother, sister and I. The city was alive. Cultured. Historic. Flavorful. Our taste buds navigated the streets. I didn’t want to ever lose my appetite. I didn’t want them to leave. I thought I was looking forward to a few days alone. I’ve changed my mind. Let’s stay here and eat and drink, and learn French – forever.

ROYAL ST. LAWRENCE YACHT CLUB 

They are gone. Everyone is gone. I viciously chew my fingernails. I sit alone indian style mid-ship. My back against the starboard hull, eyes darting bow to stern, floor boards to deck, and again. Alone on this boat for the first time this month. The cabin feels spacious, almost too big. The callouses wear away. Ruminating. Raw. Sensitive. Soft. I can finally feel. Even a little bit more than I’d prefer. Sailing does the oddest of things. Processing the last 1100 miles. Where did everyone go? Come back and distract me from my self.

I continue to chew my fingernails until I pry them out of my mouth and place them on the keyboard. This requires a vice grip. And glue. Up and down they argue until the glue secures them to the keyboard.

Luke arrives in 4 days. Now I wait. How in the world did I arrive ahead of schedule? I have a long list of projects to do before he arrives. But today I will do nothing. Absolutely nothing. Maybe jot down some more choppy sentences. Recognize all the things I haven’t been able to. My mind shifts to the next leg of the trip. The part where Luke and I try to sail across an ocean. I’ve only made it 1/4 of the way without him. The other 3/4 is Luke and Jess on a boat . com. He is our new main character.

I do a lot of one-sided writing. Which is all I really know how to do. People might feel like they know me. Might be able to relate. They might wish I used more commas instead of periods. They might wish I wrote less introspection and more statistics and logistics.  But I can’t speak for other people. I can’t summarize my crew’s experience. I like full stops better than half stops.  I can’t speak in numbers. So before I start writing about Luke without his discretion, I want to tell you a few things about the protagonist before he arrives. He is a great story, a fascinating human, and the very reason my  world has shifted.

Luke Alexander Yeates. Also referred to as Jude Law.

He is English. He is tall.  He is a sailor. He is a racer. He is a helmsman. He is a tactician. He is a navigator. He is a weatherman. He is a boat-builder. He is live-aboard. He is precise. He is thorough. He is sarcastic. He is a rule-follower. Sometimes he breaks the rules. He is a risk taker. He is a salesman. He is a deal closer. He is ambitious. He is tenacious. He doesn’t believe in sympathy. He is a history buff. He is wikipedia. He expresses opinion purely to get a reaction. He is inventive. He loves to try new things. He is well traveled. His passport is full. He listens to BBC every morning. He is a minimalist. He lives very simply. He is an older brother. He pretends to be cold-hearted. He’s not. He is cold-blooded. He is deeply in love with Jaguar XJ13. He splurges on Negroni’s. He can’t sit still. He needs to be reminded that it’s not always a race. He wants to sail around the world non-stop. He will sail around the world. We will sail around the world – and I will probably make him stop. He dreams of building  a sailing lobster boat. He sings a great sea shanty. He has two left feet. He is not shy. He is motivated by all the right things. He is a chef. He is a teacher. He is creative. He does not get embarrassed. He writes me letters. He has a way with words. He is my biggest motivator. And at the end of the day I am convinced I am the only human who has ever had the pleasure of knowing his sweet and sensitive side. That side is a secret which I will keep.

Six months ago this was an implausible idea – sailing across an ocean. A year and 7 months ago we didn’t even know each other. To take what was once an idea and move hastily forward into action – we’ve had to learn together, to rely on, to trust and to believe in the other. Everything we are about to discover about each other good or bad, by the time we make it to the other side… will be our greatest reward. I can’t promise it’s going to be pretty. But it will be one hell of a story.

We have pushed and shoved the itineraries and safeties of our daily lives…to be completely self-reliant together…to be in the middle of a roaring sea together…to be ugly and exhausted together…to be our worst selves… to be our best selves…to experience emergencies together… to see that many stars together… call me a romantic, call me mental – that’s fine. I have never been more exhilarated about anything in my entire life.

Four days couldn’t come sooner. Our tandem existence has revolved around count-downs. This countdown feels like my hand is in the shredder. Hurry up Luke. I don’t have any fingernails left.

The Royal St. Lawrence Yacht Club has welcomed me this week. I have acquired a new family. The employees and the members have offered their assistance time and again if needed. I will be sad to say goodbye. Anyone transiting the St. Lawrence Seaway needs to stop here for some fish & chips, fancy showers, and a fantastic community of sailors. I would be happy here if this were the final destination.

jessie zevalkink