I wanted to be a writer, but knowing you can't really make a living that way, my fall back was to get a Ph.D. and teach English, preferably at a leafy ivied college in New England with buxom co-eds.
My parents, of course, objected to this plan. And did everything they could to get me to go to Law School.
Most people, even those who know me fairly well, don't realize I am the most stubborn person--stiff-necked, to use an Old Testament appellation--on god's no-longer-green earth. I resisted my parents' imperative but after a year of grad school my money ran out and I was shit out of luck.
I abandoned my dreams of Chaucer and co-eds and went to do the only thing I really knew how to do--write ads. In short order, I put a book together, and while the Sharpies were still drying, I got a job working at the in-house agency at Bloomingdale's department store for the legendary John C. Jay, of Wieden & Kennedy renown.
I bring all this up because my younger daughter, Hannah, is leaving me today.
She's flying to Trinidad.
There, with two friends, they'll pick up a 44' sailboat, sail to St. Maarten, then from St. Maarten through the Panama Canal, across the South Pacific to the Marquesas in French Polynesia, on to Tahiti, then the Cook Islands, then to Australia, then onto Auckland, NZ.
|The Marquesas in French Polynesia.
There's no way I couldn't be thrilled that my kid has the confidence and emotional wherewithal to undertake such an adventure. Of course, I am steeped in the lore of the sea.
I've read Moby Dick, Billy Budd, Two Years Before the Mast, the Mutiny on the Bounty Trilogy, Kidnapped, Treasure Island, Robinson Crusoe, Captain Singleton, the entirety of C.S. Forester's epic series Horatio Hornblower and dozens more.
It's not easy to picture your little girl in a little boat in the great big sea.
I worry about freak waves, storms, pirates. Even maggots in the hardtack, like in the Battleship Potemkin by Eisenstein.
But, to sing an old song, She is Woman, Hear Her Roar.
And roar she will. Over 8,000 nautical miles. Through the aforementioned freak waves and storms.
Truth be told, I couldn't be prouder.
I taught my kids (I'm bragging here) well.
No lives of quiet desperation for them. No dopey mini-desk work space and dealing with 291 copy changes in a single day.
No, Hannah is sailing the seven seas.
She might, in six months or a year, settle down to a tamer life, go to graduate school, maybe, heaven forfend, get a normal job.
There's a time and a place for normal.
She's just, thank god, resisting it for as long as she can.