Once or twice in a lifetime though, the winds may chance to breeze a resplendent little cattamaran into your life. With sails snapping in the wind, colorful flags flying and bullhorn booming: "Let the fun begin!" I am blessed to have a friend like this. She comes complete with a Caribbean steel drum band and rum punch. Let's christen her "The Dolphin".
"The Dolphin" and I have been anchored in the same small harbor together for more than a few years now. Drawn into friendship by the circumstances of our kid's activities and a mutual admiration of all things equine, we have had great fun sailing along on a similar course. Always there for each other with a hand to help, an encouraging word or an obnoxiously self-serving I-told-you-so, we have weathered some rough seas together.
Recently though, ever so slightly and without being aware of it, I have begun to list a few degrees starboard of my charted route. At first I didn't realize that I was off course, it looked like we were still heading toward the same spot on the horizon. Now I am conscious of an ever widening distance between us, as I unwillingly change direction.
I feel as if I somehow came unmoored in the night, caught up in my own personal riptide. Untethered from parenting, I seem somewhat rudderless, and I am for the moment, drifting in an unfamiliar direction. Pummeled by the hormonal tempest of my age-group, I am at the mercy of this fickle wind as it blows me into uncharted territory.
All the while, "The Dolphin" has been sailing steadily along behind me. The winds of mothering teenagers whirl around her, as she braves the storms of her parents ill-health. She needs all hands topside, a firm grasp on the wheel, and a sharp eye towards the rocky shoals. I've sailed these waters before. I want to run alongside, to call out a sounding that will help her avoid the craggy shoreline and the dangers of running aground or capsizing.
But I've drifted too far ahead. We are both battered by the wind and waves. As my storm intensifies, I call out one thing, she hears another. She yells back, but I can't understand her. As I am slowly spun out to sea, I am convinced that she can no longer hear me at all.
As this day draws to a close, the wind and waves have ceased and the water is like glass. I sit marooned and alone, no land in sight. I long to get back to familiar waters, but my sails are in tatters and my rudder is gone. The sharks of despair seem to make ever smaller circles towards my leaky, broken boat. I think our friendship may be sinking, but I am unwilling to abandon ship. I hope this isn't the end...
Wait. Do I hear Reggae? Could it possibly be? There, in the distance, motoring at top speed, sails full and flags whipping in the breeze, it's "The Dolphin" coming to the rescue of her sinking compatriot. As she makes ready to pull alongside, I am filled with delight as I hear a familiar voice shout, "Hey, do you have any olives? Quit teasing the sharks and get over here. Let's get this party started!"