Solo is a nice space. It feels good to take time with me but I’m so used to having Megan within earshot that I find myself wanting to marvel at the sunset with her or share a momentary chat in the companionway. I miss eating with her, sharing ideas, cuddling in the night. The first two days of being apart are usually the hardest so I distract myself with projects; I become Super Project Man – working to innovate and improve, defending Orion against the ruthless plans of Dr. Rustbucket, Sir Corrodes-a-lot and the sea, sun and wind. This is where I am at right now. The project at hand is a shade cover for Orion. I hauled the sewing machine and supplies to shore to work at the Fonitur, one of the government run marinas along the coast of Mexico. They have a large shaded area perfect for laying out long lengths of material. It’s hard to work with such big things in a small space like Orion. But before I got too far along the management kicked me out for using an area I didn’t pay for (the anchorage we’re in is free). Fortunately, I was able to cut and sew the longest hems and, while it’s still thirteen by twenty feet, it’s a much more manageable size.
Megan left today, she went to El Rosario for the week to do some work for Reef Check. I’m staying here in Puerto Escondido to take care of Orion. It’s weird to be on Orion alone. Megan and I spend a lot of time together, a lot of time, days and nights and days and nights and all the time between the days and nights too. We have a lot of togetherness and not a lot of physical space where togetherness doesn’t happen. There are moments when Orion overflows with understanding and joy, when our hearts gently speak their truth and forty-one feet is spacious, luxurious even. And there are moments when the air is cold and thin, when stubborn grumpiness prevails and forty-one feet could never be far enough apart. When two people are this close and distraction is this far away everything comes to the surface – the good, the bad and the ugly.
So much time together is a mixed bag of sweet mangos, spicy jalapenos, some pop rocks, a lot of dark chocolate and any other metaphor for human emotions you can think of. Everyday handfuls of the stuff are pulled out, squished together and given a taste. The flavors range from “oh my stars!” amazing to instant vomiting. But this is what it looks like to explore love between two people, only we signed up for the concentrated version. It’s wallowing in our shadows, facing our “not enough” and “unlovable”, it’s sitting in shame. It’s messy, and frustrating and personal and thick with layers upon layers of history. It isn’t always pretty but it is continually beautiful.
History is the most challenging part of it all. Our history tells us stories that often don’t apply; they bind us to heartache, and translate words into pinpricks and punches. I am constantly amazed at how my history can rearrange and scramble a conversation. The words said and the words heard can be as different as the food we take in and what comes out the other end. In small spaces that difference is put under a magnifying lens and the point of light that shines through starts fires that flare up quickly. “Could you do the dishes when you have time,” is easily translated into my stepmom, “don’t leave this kitchen until you wash every one of those dishes!” or “I need some space,” translates into my first girlfriend, “I don’t want to be with you anymore.” And although I can look around and see that neither my stepmom nor my first girlfriend are anywhere near Orion, my brain still seems to think they live with me.
But history is beautiful too. It builds a friendship that is accepting and playful, a partnership that is forgiving and open and along the way we get to be lovers too. History allows us to say everything or nothing; it creates ease, encourages growth, and inspires intimate creativity. We can put down our armor and explore the tender and vulnerable places. It’s a foundation on which the good, the bad and the ugly are safe to explore.
Sailing off into the sunset is the fantasy of a new relationship, before time has passed and history is built. It’s a beautiful thing in itself, all shiny and filled with perfection. It can be sad when a fantasy dies in the face of reality. I have mourned many such deaths, even thrown myself on the casket in hopes I could die along side such an attractive thing. Fortunately, I did not. The reality of the human experience far surpasses the shallow graves of my perfect fantasies. This messy dirty experience is filled with colors, smells and flavors I did not know existed; my fantasies would never have gotten this far. That’s the trouble with fantasies, I build them from what I know, and all the rest of it, all the sweet heart wrenching beauty of possibility is never explored. If I never killed and buried my fantasies in exchange for the messy thrill of being human, Megan and I would be living different lives. Life may have been simpler, perhaps easier, but my heart would be many times smaller, my joy far simpler. I would not be a part of Orion, floating on this turquoise sea surrounded by wildness and rugged green mountains, sewing this shade and loving the pleasure of missing my lover.