My life is far from vanilla. At the moment, I’m exploring the islands of Fiji, working full time, taking a writing course, and maintaining a boat. Boats aren’t easy. Taking care of one is like trying to hallow a hole into a mountain with a wooden toothpick… for me anyway. On top of it all something unexpected is budding and it might bloom into something, but one never knows until the flower drops.
Come every Sunday I crash down hard onto the settee in a good for nothing daze. Frazzled and fried and feeling like somebody done popped part of my brain out my ears. Everything moves in real slow motion. As long as the wind is in my hair, I can handle the delicate decay of a slow Sunday.
The rest of the week, I’m working L.A. hours from the future. I get up every morning at 4 a.m. when the angels rise. I do yoga. I make coffee. At 4:30, I get online and work. Then the sun rises the color of jelly.
I watch it bleed into the sky from the cockpit. Spilling onto the water beneath me and shattering into mystic lines with hot red hues. I could blow away just staring at the waters edge. It’s that special place loved mostly by outlaws and dreamers and pirates and legends. When I look at it, I can see nothing but possibilities on the horizon. It’s such a spell.
Have you ever noticed that linger is one letter away from longer? Linger longer. Longer linger. Longer. Linger. If only I could linger longer and sail each day from sunset to sunrise.
When 1 p.m. comes, my work day is done. I hop in a dinghy and go with Lollywater Lucy or SeaGlub or Wilderness on an adventure. We look at all the fish and blueberry staghorns on Sunflower Reef. Or walk the dust roads of Malolo Lailai – picking ripe mangos from the trees and thorns from our bare feet all the way. Or go and surf at Swimming Pools.
That’s the only spot I’ve surfed in Fiji and I adore it. The surge of swell, the foam energy, the floating feeling. It’s a gentle wave, a gentle ride, a long ride, for beginners. I’ll always be a beginner at everything in life and that’s the most true fire thing I’ll ever tell you.
It’s mostly me and a bunch of kids out there at swimming pools. There’s a family sailing around with nine kids, age 2 to 19. They’re all out there, the two-year-old surfing on her daddy’s shoulders.
I met another cruiser family and they hate sailing, but they’ve been doing it for fourteen years. Why? They love to travel. I suppose sometimes I hate sailing too; in a gale, or hard on the wind, or when I’m surrounded by lightening, or when I get lonely, or when something big breaks. But mostly, I love it. I couldn’t do this, if I didn’t. It’s true that it will make your heart race at first, but everything good for you usually does.
Musket Cove is a resort. A maze of white bungalows, a grocery store, a restaurant, a dockside gas station, an island sunset bar, an empty swimming pool. During COVID, places like this survive thanks to cruisers.
Once a month, fifteen or so men gather at the restaurant for a poker game. It’s as serious as Vegas. $20 Fijian dollars to buy in. Lollywater Lucy and I invite ourselves to this month’s game. We dress up in our finest gowns and I cover my eyes in rouge-lensed-heart-shaped sunglasses. I’m the queen of hearts.
We didn’t know we would be the only women. We hardly even know how to play the game. The players are divided across two tables based on a card drawn. Lucy and I land at the same table. The father of the nine kids sits next to me. He grabs a cheat sheet displaying the rules of the game and places it next to us. He looks at me and says, “I have to win so my kids can eat this week.”
Chips toss, cards shuffle, hands deal, fingers tap, hands wave, cards flip. An airplane pilot named Martin, whose never played poker in his life, is crushing the game at our table. He’s got a castle of chips so high, nobody can even count. Then I get a flush. I squeal and push all my chips in. It’s down to me and Martin and he thinks I’m bluffing. When I win, I jump up dancing like a flamingo flies. I shout, “Don’t y’all just love it when women come to poker night!”
Hours pass. Players fall like stars. Tables are combined and I’m rolling deep in chips. It’s a full moon. Lollywater Lucy is drinking rum and cokes like a fish. She’s playing with my hair and rubbing my shoulders to keep me in the Jazz. At one point she gets so loose and so excited about my hand that she licks the entire right side of my face. Her boyfriend looks at us in shock.
I’m trash talking the other players for the fun of it. I get a few more good hands. It’s down to four players and I’m one of them. Then I lose everything and I don’t care cause I’m having so much fun.
Martin is one of the final three players. I say, “Martin if you win, will you buy me a pony.” Everybody laughs. He doesn’t win and it doesn’t matter because one day I’ll win big and buy myself a pony.
Everything is possible if I know it is.
On my sail to Fiji, I realized that I needed to stop worrying about what my life looked like, and focus only on what my life felt like. Ever since then I’ve been riding on a high vibe. Somersaulting my way into every day.
Since arriving here, my new yoga practice has allowed me to recognize other truths. Truth number 1: I love love so much that I’m always falling in and out of it. Truth number 2: My heart has been closed and I haven’t been really falling in real love. I’ve spent years pushing real love away- like bedsheets on a hot night- out of fear. Because I didn’t love myself, because I didn’t think I deserved it, because I was afraid to lose myself in its riptide. I could cry my head off just thinking about that. Truth number 3: The only person I need to fall in love with is myself. It’s safe to say that I finally have. Truth number 4: Everything I endeavor to do, must be done from my heart, not my head, and it must be done in service to others or nature. Truth number 5: I’m afraid that I’ll never be a mother. As soon as I sit with the recognition of this, I meet several mothers who have raised their children alone on sailboats and I realize that I can do that too and my fear disappears. Truth number 6: I must never miss a sunrise or sunset. And I must dazzle my eyes in search of the green flash. Because I’ve never seen it. Because I’m always blinking when it happens.
The waves turned flat and most everybody left Musket. It’s a day off, so I leave too. I’m buddy boating north, up the Yasawas. The earth is scorching and getting drier as I go. These eastern islands are deserts wishing for rain water.
The morning has been strange. I found someone else’s toenail in my granola and it was yellow and has clearly been there since the time of packaging. It was in my mouth! I almost swallowed it! I don’t know what’s worse, that or the weevils that hatch in my packages of pasta.
Anyway, then I receive an alarming message from Eli, the young French Canadian whose a bubble blown towards the sun. She has blown herself straight into a bad situation, surrounded by drunkenness and cruelty, and the captain has threatened to strangle her. Kill her. She‘s afraid to tell anybody, but she’s also afraid to stay, and worst of all she’s afraid it’s her fault. I send a boat to rescue her. The village left in Musket gathers around to protect her. Feeding her meals, giving her a place to stay, securing a new boat for her.
Better the devil you know, you know?
After Eli is safe and sound, the boat I’m sailing with catches a two ton sailfish and it’s jumping on the line. Sailfish are the fastest fish in the ocean, moving at 68 miles per hour. Imagine having a cheetah on the end of your fishing line. We both throttle back, and in the hour that my friend spends reeling the fish in, dolphins play off our bows.
As we pull into Waya Island to anchor for the night, we see some local fishermen. We give them the sailfish. They return with some of the meat for us and use the rest of it to feed an entire village.
This is exactly how life should be.
*The water provides an isolating environment that can be an endangerment to women. If you feel in danger, don’t be afraid to scream for help, to speak up, to report it to the highest in command. If nobody will listen, scream louder, tell strangers, share your story online. If nobody will share your story, come to me, I will share it. Situations like this are happening all of the time: https://www.maritimelegalaid.com/blog/i-was-raped-aboard-a-maersk-ship-during-sea-year
*I am planning to do the live Q&A for my monthly Patreon and PayPal supporters on Friday, November 12th (Fiji time). Stay tuned for a link to tune in!