My brother Sam has always loved sailing. We lived a mile or two from a neighborhood lake that offered sailing classes on those little fiberglass Sunfishes with the bright sails that were made to be photographed for computer wallpaper. One Christmas, or birthday, or straight-A semester Sam asked for sailing lessons. I was wrapped up in my own teenaged world and just figured it was another strange phase my ten year-old brother was going through, like the time my brother Mike wore his neon-colored frog shorts and shirt and hat for a week straight.
One day he talked me out of my self-centered sixteen year-old life and into venturing further out to a county park, Crabtree Lake, that rented larger Sunfishes. I had a car and he didn't, so we made a day of it. We sailed around the lake for hours, getting soaked and talking more than we probably had ever in our whole life living together in the same house. I don't think I had ever spent a day with just him before that afternoon and I don't believe I ever did again.
After Sam graduated from college, he moved out to Seattle and started working for Boeing. Being single and frugal and old enough to prize solitude, he started looking into buying a boat. It's funny because we all own cars, and boats of the size and age he was looking for cost as much as a Civic, but buying a boat seems like something so much more momentous. He was able to find what he was looking for (evidently the boat market in Seattle is amazingly tight) and now owns his very own boat.
We had already built a day into our plans to visit Sam, but when I found out that he had bought his boat, I was even more excited to go and spend the day with him. Because who doesn't like Seattle on the water? And boats are cool.
|Eleanor's view for most of the day|
The day, of course, was wonderful. We had a beautiful sail (although Sam claimed that it was sweltering. I think he's been in the Pacific Northwest too long), bookended by a delicious brunch and tasty dinner. Eleanor behaved herself and I confess that I didn't miss the other children at all (hopefully they will read this when they are much older and can forgive me my callousness).
I was very sad to say goodbye to my little brother until next summer. I think one of the great injustices of life is that when you're finally old enough and sensible enough to really, really love spending time with your siblings, you live much too far away from each other. I always swore that I'd never want to live near family (we never did growing up and it worked just fine thank you very much), but I've definitely changed my tune. The longer I spend in the Foreign Service, the harder it is to be so very far from family. We all get together for our annual beach trip which is pretty much the highlight of my children's year, but I miss the more ordinary times when I can just hang out with my siblings individually. I have a lot of time to make up for, after all. Maybe we can work something out later, but for now I'll just have one day in Seattle to put up on the shelf with the one on Crabtree Lake. Hopefully they won't stay the only ones.