August 31, 2012

One fish two fish

Hook line with finger. Flip bail. Loosen finger. Watch the sinker plop into the water and feel it reach the bottom. I am told that we are anchored over a lump of no more than eight feet deep [I had been hoping for fathoms]. Beyond our lump, it could be up to twenty.


In front of me is the open mouth of the Chesapeake. The one that eventually reaches the Atlantic. Now I understand why he always says “across the black water.” It is hard to believe that somewhere halfway between our worlds, in the middle of an ocean, his black water and my Mediterranean are one and the same.


To my north-by-northeast, there is the coal mill. North-by-northwest, the steel mill and shipyard that once employed 30,000 people, I am told. As all industrial complexes, it might as well be covered with gauze: rust, fade, wear and tear have wrapped it in pastel. A single navy ship is dry-docked and fettered for breaking, as lonely as a solitary lion in a zoo.


The speed metal that we are listening to seems to have stolen the heaviness from the Key Bridge, leaving it to loom lightly above us like a delicate tapestry. Airplanes growl above us in the same single precise corridor, their wings blinking in that solipsistic steadiness that serves as its own beacon in the midst of a chaotic universe.


Directly behind my back is a skyline that I am not looking at, but am aware of its every breath, moan and cry, every window, streetlight and lamp glowing against the background of sheer darkness. The harbor, the park, and the avenues he has told me of; people that have been his confidants and those who betrayed him; arenas where he earned his rank and his scars. The city that was his playground and his boot camp before he was mine.


When I pick up the sinker which I have just reeled in from the bottom of the Bay, it is warm. The breeze is chilly and giving me goosebumps, but I leave my sweater in the backpack and take the elements in. I do not cast, but simply let the line drop.


I catch the first fish of the night and he catches the trophy fish. That’s about right because we are winners like that. A photograph is taken of me holding my catch, and it looks decent-sized in my tiny hands. The offended perch is trying its best to prick up its dorsal fin and maim me, but the goofy smile on my face could care less. In the background of the picture, as I will find out later, he glows with pride of his fisherwoman lady, brighter than the apricot sun setting behind his shoulder. He counts my fish without my knowledge, and will later inform me that I caught seventeen. That makes me happy because I like prime numbers.


He asks me repeatedly if I am having a good time, lovingly concerned because I am wearing what appears to be a poker face. What he doesn’t know is that I am setting my coordinates and taking it all in. Our friend on the boat refers to the lump as one of her happy places, and I can see why, even if it means something different to me. I might as well have discovered the new bellybutton of the world, you see, for we are anchored at a spot below an infinite Kantian sky, where the ocean was so anxious to shake hands with the river that it bored its way as far into land as it would go. We are floating at the spot where air corridors and man-made bridges intersect with the migration paths of monarch butterflies and grey-winged herons.


I take it all in and understand that this place, where nature meets engineering, where swamps border heavy industry, where fishing with friends offsets the roaring city in the background – this place is everything he stands for. It is also everything that I stand for, for I am the daughter of an engineer and a hopeless romantic. That is what the poker face thinks of as she casts her cosmic vectors instead of her line. I wait for him to lift his eyes from the peeler he has been butchering into bait and look at me. I mouth ‘I love you’ and see him for who he is.


  1. What fun C...Thanks for taking me along. I've fished a lot of places and naturally love to of my great passions living on an island as you might guess but never have I fished the Chesapeake.

    It sounds like your "Great American Experience: 2012 TOUR" is coming along quite nicely...Peace to you always My Friend!

    1. Thank you, Thormoo.

      I had never fished before in my life. It took awhile to coordinate myself well enough not to hook anyone of my boatmates' eyelids, but I am told I did quite well.

      I like how you named my 'tour,' perhaps I should make that a label for my posts :)

      Thanks for stopping by and peace right back at you, with hopes that you have been getting more sleep and that your health is serving you well.

  2. Hi Chris,
    Ah yes, I'm getting some thoughtful analogies within your posting. And amongst it all, there is an understanding and that's what makes life so interesting.
    And you certainly hooked me in with this posting. I had a reel good time. Without going into more detail, I can fathom what you're on about :)
    May you have a peaceful, positive day.

    1. Hi Gary,

      I just walked right into that one, didn't I? The analogies, I mean. And thank you for understanding the understanding, I knew you would.

      I loved your latest Blog Air post. Every now and then you shake things up a bit, reminding us not to take ourselves too seriously. Have a great week!

  3. Absolutely stunning. It is such an experience to read the way you are flowing from one phase of life into another, to see this other side of you that fires when just the right mix of wanderlust, contentedness, and rediscovery mixes with newly seeded love. The quality of your writing is beyond anything I will ever achieve.

    1. Thank you humbly, Aimee.

      *curtsies, blushes*

      It has been quite an experience. I couldn't make that shit up if I tried. And the dominant feeling has been contentedness. Peace like I haven't had in a very long time. This one churned in my head for some time because it was important to me that I do it justice. More to come :)

  4. Thank you for taking me with you across the black waters. You've penned an amazing memory—so vivid I feel it's mine also. Your writing is delicious Chris. Apricot sun. I love this post for all it says of your heart. Solitary lion....

    1. Hi Leah,

      The apricot sun was there for the taking, I just had to write it down :) And the solitary lion... you know that feeling of "it's not supposed to be there, it ought to be someplace else, being a lion?" That poor ship looked like it would rather have been anywhere else but on that dock.

      My heart is opening up and listening in on itself. Finally. Thank you for noticing :)



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