Obviously, we have made it home by now. And the whirlwind that has been the last 18 months has taken me many places, though without Annie Laurie. I had resigned myself to the fact that she had to go up for sale, considering many of my personal circumstances.
The three day passage from P-Town to Nova Scotia was bitterly cold (too much time south has made me soft), but it got off to a great start. We were just a couple of hours out of Cape Cod when we came within a few meters of a couple of massive whales, who were determined to stay by our side for a while. Shortly after, a thick fog rolled in, and our next glimpse of land was the rock breakwater in Lunenburg.
Rowing ashore one last time in Lunenburg, as I had a flight to catch shortly that would take me to Newfoundland for another forecasting contract (I think I should look up the exact definition of 'contract'), I didnt know if the next time I saw Annie Laurie she would no longer be mine. Of course I cried.
My brother Jeff and friend Dean were there to meet us at the wharf the morning after our midnight arrival, and we had a little celebration at the Grand Banker before heading back to Halifax.
I was feeling a bit shell-shocked upon arriving in St John's mid-August. It would be a bit of a change after living on a boat for over 3 years. I think that's why I sought out the apartment I did. It was at the mouth of the harbour, in what is known as the Outer Battery, closer to sea level than any other home in the city. And not a word of a lie, some days I had more seawater in the floor of my apartment than I'd ever had in the bilge of Annie Laurie.
I did a pretty good job of not allowing myself to become attached to any part of Newfoundland life. Occasional visits to the pub or parties with the guys from work, but I would always get home early for my nightly phonecall with Phil in Miami, who you might remember from previous blogs. It seemed like an impossible situation to resolve, yet I had no doubt where things were leading, and somehow, somewhere, we'd see each other again.
And in October, Phil made his first trip to Canada. He brought a gift for Effie which he couldn't wait to put on her collar. It read "Ping Pong", in remembrance of how, while in Miami at his apartment, all night we'd listen to the ping of batteries flying accross the floor, and the pong of the vase of bamboo hitting the floor yet again.
I took him to places that I thought would impress him, but like a kid who gets everything for Christmas and tosses it all aside to make a fort out of the cardboard boxes, what I really remember was his fascination with the massive pile of road salt on the waterfront that had been offloaded from a ship a few days earlier. Forget Signal Hill or Cape Spear, he wanted his photo taken next to the giant mountain of salt.
We crammed 3 holidays into the 10-day visit, knowing we wouldn't be together for Halloween, (American) Thanksgiving, or Christmas. We carved pumpkins and went into the forest for a small Christmas tree, which we decorated and placed on top of the Franklin fireplace (just a showpiece) in my apartment. We tried fried cod tongues for the first time (bleah!). I guess you'd learn to love them like the Newfies if you were desperate enough for sustenance.
In exchange for working Christmas Day (the weather doesn't stop for the holidays) I was able to take a susbtantial amount of time off afterward to fly to Miami to see Phil again. We had now spent a grand total of one month together. When it's right, it's right. Now to figure out how to remove the 2000 miles between us.
All the while, Annie Laurie was stitting outside Lunenburg awaiting a couple of repairs. I just couldn't see how she could fit into my future plans, thought I felt like a bad mother, abandoning her child when they became the slightest bit inconvenient. But, I reasoned, you have to leave certain things behind to open yourself up to new experiences. I had a pretty good run with Annie Laurie, perhaps I had already accomplished everything I had meant to do with her. The memories, though, were painful. I longed to be aboard again, and to relive so much of what I had been through. Some days I had to block the memories completely, because it was too much to take, thinking back to the extraordinarily good times, and now feeling so lost and alone in the bitter darkness of winter in Newfoundland.
She wouldnt be forgotten though. One evening before heading to bed, I had a message in my inbox, the subject heading was "Message in the Bottle". It had been nine months since I had thrown a series of messages-in-wine-bottles into the Gulf Stream on my way to the Bahamas. The message read:
I'm Cláudia. (please understand my mistakes, I don't write english very well).
I´m writing for you because my cousin found your letter in the bottle. He found it yesterday, Sunday, when he is fishing. Your letter, sailing in the sea during 9 months and became to Terceira Island, in Azores, Portugal. I like your story very much and I think is important you know where your message come. And I beleave that whith little steps we can change the world. Good luck for you and your adventures and I hope that you enjoy your opportunities along the way. Your friend in middle of atlantic, Cláudia
A very tumultuous winter seemed in the works, as I asked myself what the hell I was doing in Newfoundland when A)I didn't enjoy my current job or lifestyle, B)Phil was in Miami, and C)Annie Laurie was reluctantly for sale in Nova Scotia.
I was not feeling aligned. What was a girl to do?