My feet trembled as the engines turned on, slowly pushing back from the city above us. Seattle is glorious in October, the bright midday sun hanging above the hulk of buildings, cranes, and tourists. "This isn't how it usually is," my friend Katie said. No rain or fog, Rainier looming large in the distance, she'd outdone herself.
The wind whipped my hair into a slight frenzy as we made our way from the port dock and into Puget Sound. I grew up avoiding open water. My first sea experience was a 25-foot fishing boat in the Gulf of Mexico during high school. We set sail early in the morning to rig hop in search of fish that I still don't know the names of. Even though I got seasick, the feeling stuck with me. Openness. Vastness. Freedom.
The ferry from Seattle to Bainbridge is hardly open sea, but for a soul stuck in cities and cars the feeling was therapeutic. The wind mixed with passing boats, gulls, and gripped hands on railings.
As the city sunk into the horizon, we made our way to the front of the ferry. Mothers held their children close as they cooed at the passing birds, looking desperately for the sight of seals. For barely eight dollars, the trip across Puget Sound to Bainbridge Island felt like alien territory to me. The concrete jungle of Houston has conditioned me to endless strip malls, traffic, and constant alertness. Here, the water beckoned you to slow down, breathe deep, and feel the life inside your lungs.
After a summer of heat, humidity, loss, and change, the biting air coursed through my body. I donned a bright red beanie low across my ears and stood westward. This deck was my sofa for the afternoon, and I intended to empty myself and begin again. Breathe in change, breathe out life.
The waves beneath cast fresh blue into our eyes. People filed back into their cars beneath. Children accounted for, friends made. The island opened up before us. I walked down the ramp, leaving a piece of me behind, mixed in the wind and water.
The engines rumbled in the distance as life moved on, slower, weightless. I grabbed my wife's hand tightly, as she smiled back at me. We didn't just make it to shore, we made it through the summer, together. Sometimes that's all you need.