October 13 / At Sea

Committed.
Connected.
Thousands of miles from home. Hundreds of miles from land.
We are dust amidst an endless ocean. A black sea that holds secrets from day one. The beginning.
Floating on waters that drown history safely within its belly where no man is meant to explore, while waves roll answers to planetary mystery.
At sea.
Bodies above water.
Thousands of bodies in a floating hotel – stories, legends, purpose, contained as one. Within one being. It is the metaphor of our fabric, woven from a single thread.
We are all one.
One destination.
One shared existence.
Together we sail, a single vessel quietly slicing the night like scissors through black paper. Where sky and ocean are seamless. Only the twinkle of ship lights parallel the speckled stars above.
Our glow, the resonance of music and dialect, fill a yardsticks distance of negative space. Until we port back in Rome and thousands of bodies are no longer of one purpose, but split into fragments that carry on their solitary journey.
Billions of stars in the sky make one brilliant pattern to the human eye.
Made from one, divided to conquer many, only to return to our common cloth whole again.
We find a way home.

Lying on the pool deck, fourteenth floor, Chris by my side. The sun rests on every bit of my body with a comforting heat.
The man across from us rubs his wife’s back.
I suddenly feel the distance between my husband and me. An unspoken energy sits between us as a third party. Its weight is thick, heavy, palpable. Grey clouds hide the sun, shadow covers the ship.
I want to hold his hand.
The feeling is hot and pulses through me. My heart pounds. I know I should listen to my heart. Listen to the force that cries out to just take his hand. Show my love.
But the fear beats as rapidly as my desire. The fear of judgment, of glares, disgust and quiet whispers. An image from a time when I wrapped my arms around Chris in the market and a man told us we were sinners. A time when I was thirteen and hated myself so much I began picking my scalp until it bled. An awful habit I still have eighteen years later. The old shame that lingers from childhood, a feeling so ingrained within my core it wraps round my throat, my heart, like ivy.
I remember words that told me to feel the fear. Experience the uncomfortable until it becomes comfortable. Until it loses power. Understand the feelings, the pain, instead of pushing it away.
Walk through it.
Because the fear of suffering is worse than the suffering itself.
Or so I have read.
My inner churning escalates, while around me people carry on with their moment. Couples embrace. Music plays. Laughter.
The world continues to spin.
The ship continues to sail.
While my spirit is anchored to the depths of the sea.
Walk through it.
The band began to play “Ho Hey” by The Lumineers.
I take a breath.
Reach down.
My fingers touched his bathing suit and I play with the fabric, testing the waters.
Walk through it.
I took my husband’s hand.
The song hit a crescendo.
Through my closed eyelids I can see the clouds part, the sun pours down on us.
It was written.
I felt Chris. Not his hand, not just his fingers, his soul. We were connected.
One.
He said nothing, but I sensed his freedom, his happiness. The invisible force between us passes and just like that we are stars in the sky. A ship at sea. Two fragments joined as one. Our blood flows, energy entwined. Like a telephone made from two cups joined by string, a red thread flows between my heart and his.
We hear the love that binds us.
Walk through it.

 

*****

 

October 14 / Santorini

I am grateful to be here. Now. A cool wind, cup of coffee, deep hues of blue like endless frosting on a sheet cake. The sun cast high, catching waves that carry golden dust toward me. A path illuminated from above. The yellow brick road, a glistening cone, it never leaves.
I am foggy.
Woke up late.
It is morning.
Or early afternoon.
There is a time change. Somewhere near Santorini. Chris is in bed.
I woke up with a heaviness, an anger out from the shadows. Trailing down that golden path into my head. Wherever it came from, whatever it is, it’s here. Call it continued jet lag, lingering frustration from an unresolved spat. Two sleepy honeymooners together, twenty-four hours a day, one still sick with a cold. Maybe I need an AA meeting. Maybe go back to bed. Go to the gym.
It’s black tar invading my peace, skewing the sunlight. My soul twin.
A smudge on the window, a blur in vision, obstructive nonetheless.
And a rush of anxiety as I realize I may be late for our appointment.
Time.
Perspective.
Nothing but a smudge on a moment of gratitude.
Overshadows all.

 

*****

 

Looking over the ocean, vast and black as space. The ship cuts unapologetically through night, white crests unfold and roll to darkness. I lean over the balcony with an intoxicating urge to swan dive below. To feel the adrenaline as wind slaps my face and water engulfs my body into a state of momentary shock.
To watch in horror as the ship sails off.
To swallow my surroundings with the mounting fear that I am done.
Abandoned.
A piece of nothing disappearing into the void.
This isolation, floating in endless black, must be what space travel is like.
The stars.
Still reaching for stars.

We drive along the coast of Santorini.
Mountains, left.
Deep sea, right.
Chris controls the ATV 4-wheeler, my trust folds into the moment.
We are the wind.
Freedom.
Arms stretched like wings, gliding.
Sailing.
I watch Chris through the round side mirror. Body pressed against him, I hold his thigh. We drive. Hair, wild.
Wrapping around turns, up the volcanic island towards Oia. White square and arched buildings highlight the landscape.
I squeeze Chris and kiss his neck.
“Hold on,” he says.
The ATV speeds up to pass a motorbike. Chris tightens his grip on the handle and I feel the wind pick up. The engine roars.
I laugh. Squint my eyes.
If every day could be this day.
Abandon obligations, time, work. Travel Mediterranean towns with no regard for consequence, no need to hold fear like a clenched fist in my chest.
Escape.
Check out. Goodbye.
No ties.
Life like the wind.
It feels like we are the only people in the world.
And maybe we are.

Chris parks the ATV along the ocean. We do self-exams on our hair, which has embraced ‘wind-blown’ to an extreme.
I remember holding my hand on a static electricity conductor as a kid in fifth grade. The class watched my hair take high salute as static surged through my body.
I was that kid again.
We walk down stone steps and into what feels like a movie. At the base of a mountain, against the sea, a row of small cafes, fisherman, boats.
“This is amazing.”
A man in a kelly-green sweater walks over with a grin. “Hello,” a thick Greek accent says. “Welcome, my friends.”
He works at the restaurant we are passing through.
“Hi.”
“Where you traveling from?” His eyes have a playful seduction that immediately lets me know he’s flirting with us.
“Miami. We’re on the cruise.” I try to keep my response short so as not to drag it out much longer.
But he won’t have that.
“Oh very nice. I go to New York soon. You stay here and eat? We have best octopus.” He motions to the line of octopus hanging behind us. Purple and white flesh dangling like something oddly beautiful. Still wet from the sea, the sun causes them to glisten. Beautiful dead things.
“These half are just caught. These here are dry in the sun for eat soon.” He shows us the group of octopus that have been hanging long enough in the sun to turn from a vibrant purple to gray.
“We’re going to walk around. We might stop back later.” I say. I start walking away.
“You two together on honeymoon?”
I hear Chris laugh. “Yeah, we are. We just got married two weeks ago.”
“Oh very nice!” He grabs Chris’s shoulder. “I am single. Maybe I find my husband today.” He laughs, animated. Like a little gay Greek wind up doll. I wanted to pull his cord to see what he would say next.
Chris caught up with me.
“Did he ask if we were on our honeymoon?”
“Yup.”
“That’s crazy! How did he know?”
Chris just laughs.
We hop over a gap in the walkway, the sea swirling beneath us. A few tourists pass by.
Chris stops suddenly. “Look! Look at the kitten!”
He has the strangest way of attracting animals wherever we are. Dogs, cats, birds, fish, lizards. He is Noah without an Arc.
A small kitten appears and rubs at his feet. Bright blue eyes, light brown and white large swirls cover its body in a rich pattern. His meow continued through rapid purrs. A very vocal cat. High pitched squeaks and meows escape its tiny mouth as Chris rubs his back, behind his ears and face.
Magnetism.
It attaches to Chris and seems to melt with his touch.
“Come here little guy.” He taps on a concrete block. The kitten hops up two other blocks to get where Chris signals.
He is rewarded with more attention.
As the cat folds and basks in Chris’ affection, I can see the energy exchange. His ability to soothe and heal with touch. It was a gift Chris had that made people, animals, immediately feel at ease when around him. Comfortable. Safe.
I saw myself in that cat.
When I lay with my head on his lap in hopes Chris rubs my back. Runs his finger up and down the inside of my arm.
It’s my favorite place.
And clearly this kitten feels it, too. He bats Chris’ hand and thrusts his little body against his arm. The meowing is constant and adorable.
Chris could soften an army by standing at their frontline.
His hand held high.
A vibration emanates and guns are dropped, swords fall to the ground. Soldiers to their knees, purring like kittens.
He is a healer.

The sun sets over Oia hours later. We hop on the ATV and cross through the mountain to get back to Fira. Winding through turns and dips in the narrow road. The fluorescent sky slowly darkened to deep purple and blue, then black as the sun disappears into the ocean.

Chris sleeps. The ship sails.
A black hoodie and navy blue pajama pants keep me warm while I sit on the balcony.
The waves are an orchestra.
The wind, a reflection.
Night is an incubator.
And the stars, the stars are endless tonight.

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