My father spent most of my childhood building a 40 foot sailboat out of wood with his bare hands, in hopes of sailing around the globe. Around the turn of the millennium, during a time when we did not speak, he and my mother abandoned their suburban life and set sail across the Atlantic, eventually reaching northern Africa before returning across the Atlantic once more, barely averting several fatal disasters. This beautifully quixotic quest–an act of sheer determination, bravery, and defiant adventurism–will go unheralded by the populace and the records of history due mostly to my father’s self-imposed social isolation and constantly troubled mind. The beaten and weathered vessel On Eagles’ Wings, my father’s former pride and joy, has remained at his dock ever since, a relic of an unfinished journey. With a bleached white, filthy imprint all that remains of its once brilliant blue name, it haunts with the specter of unrequited longing.
This accomplishment of devotion, undertaken not for profit nor fame, is what I’ve grown to respect most about my father. Even though, like everything between he and I, it resonates with a confusing blend of mixed feelings, this modern tale of triumph and tragedy should be properly commended, here, on my little island in the digital ocean, in honor of his August 8th birthday.
I can imagine the freedom of the gaping ocean pulling my father back to it with the tides. Commanding his ship through the open waters is perhaps the only time I’ve known my father to be fully alive or truly happy, and from the outskirts of the wreckage of his life on land, I long for him to return to his floating home there, to be at peace, to complete his circumnavigation of the blue unknown.