One year on
Monterey dolphins, November 2004
Last year around this time, Erfert had a half-birthday party on a whale watch boat off the coast of Monterey. I remember the day with a crazy sense of clarity, remember driving down from the city in the morning, remember listening to the tape with Rufus Wainwright's "One Man Guy" over and over and over again, remember the play of light on the water, the unmistakeable scent in the air.
And, of course, I remember feeling impossibly grateful for the chance to escape the emotional pit of hell that was late fall 2004.
We didn't actually see any whales on the cruise, but did see smatterings of other marine life, including sea lions and gobs of dolphins. For a long while, as we raced through the water, a clutch of dolphins rode along just off the sides of the boat, evidently, according to the captain, hitching the equivalent of a free ride in our wake. We humans bent ourselves over the railings to watch them, laughing in delighted disbelief as the dolphins rode and rode and rode with us.
It would be untrue in the extreme to say that the memory of watching dolphins frolic on what must've been one of the most beautiful days of the year was a salve and a sustaining force as I hacked my way through the year that unfolded. No memory on its own could get me through all that. But that mental image (and its physical counterpart) was a reminder that the world was deeper and broader and more full of wonder and possibility than I could really appreciate at the time.
And now, a year on, the memories of last November's suckiness have faded enough to become largely ignorable (if not exactly forgettable), and things seem to have settled into a new equilibrium, and I feel more at peace than I have for a long time running. Now, a year on, what floats to the top of the memory heap for that day on the water is the sense I got watching the dolphins that somehow, at some point, the emotional chop at the center of my life would subside, and there, under the calmed surface, I'd find something I hadn't known I was looking for.