As you may remember, I am in Germany at the moment. I left my boat in Cuba for two weeks to take care of some important business. Despite being here for a week already, I am still suffering from the blunt culture shock.
It is just a few days ago that I met with my good friend Julia. We had dinner in a sweet little restaurant that had obviously just recently opened. If my memory does not trick me, I still remember that place as a flower shop but I stopped trying to keep up with all the changes in this city long ago.
While we are having our starters, she asks me what I miss most when out at sea or living on a sailboat, her curious eyes hanging on my lips in excited anticipation of the secret that is about to be revealed.
What Sailors Miss
As usual my quick reply is “Nothing!”. It is honest. Surprise is filling the air and the disappointment becomes unbearable. So I think a bit harder.
“Don’t you miss your friends or your family or a hot bath, a comfortable bed or at least your favorite restaurant?,” her hoarse voice breaking the silence in sheer disbelief.
My brains are running hot, desperately trying to think of someone or something I miss. But no, I don’t. But will she really understand? Wouldn’t she think of me as a cold-blooded, stone-hearted, inhuman asshole? So finally I say: “I miss good German bread. Nobody can make bread as the Germans do and what they call bread in most countries is a disgrace to the very word.”
We both laugh and as we move to the main course we move to the next topic. Pheeeww…
But my thoughts are already flying. A sailors yarning has been part of our business for centuries. We tell so many delusional cock-and-bull stories I am sure there is a special place in hell for us. But if not to others at least I want to be honest to myself. Am I really such an insensitive asshole with a heart made of stone?
So I consult the Cambridge Dictionary that tells me that “to miss someone” means “to be sad that a person is not present”. Am I sad that a person is not present?
There are people I sure would be happy to be present (for a while), but am I sad they are not?
Here in Germany, I am sad that Seefalke is not around. So according to the scholars of Cambridge, I miss her. According to my heart I miss her even more. I have been gone just a week. And in exactly one more week I will be with her again. So no big deal, I would think. But I do miss her.
Why is it that I miss Seefalke despite the very short time we have been apart, but I don’t miss friends and loved ones whom I haven’t seen in many months? Or Cap’n Jack and Scout, my former furry, four-legged crew: I was so sad to see them go, but I don’t miss them now. When I recently realized this, I shocked myself, a direct hit by the stone that is supposed to be my heart.
My good friend Jimmy from Alabama would say “Don’t be such a German!” I don’t think, though, that Germans are not capable of missing. Even we Germans have feelings. Sometimes. I guess.
A Declaration of Love
So what is it that can tie a man to a boat closer than to a friend? Or a woman? It is true, if a girl would try to compete with Seefalke for my love, I’d pity the girl and sail away.
Seefalke and I are the perfect team. Taken apart from each other, Seefalke would just be a piece of worthless scrap metal, and I would be a helpless, pathetic land critter, both of us doomed to drown miserably.
But together we merge to a proud and powerful unit. Together we can sail the oceans and see the world. Together we will withstand malicious storms and endless calms. Together we have the courage to overcome our fears and venture out into uncharted waters and foreign lands again and again and again…
No woman will divide us, no earthly pleasures will corrupt us. We stand together and, when it will be our turn, we’ll go down as one. It’s her who makes the man a captain.
When I read what I just wrote I start to understand. We only miss what we feel is a part of us, and Seefalke has become a part of me. And I am sure she is missing me, too.
It’s time to go home.
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