For anyone home alone and depressed – which is a ton of people these drastic days – Christmasreally sucks.
For a truly memorable Yule, try rowing ashore, a stranger among strangerson an unfamiliar island, grievously woundedwith a smashed, pummelled, burnt, detonated, stomped on and otherwise broken-to-bits heart.
It was December 2000 and Captain Will had just arrived on Hornby and was not doing great. Living as a hermit slash refugee, withonly memories of sunlight andyet another lost love for company, hadleft himnearly immobilized under a perpetual pall of crushing…
you’re ahead of me…
… black, Stygian, no-light-and-no-hope –totally dark darkness.Everywhere. All the time.
If you know what I mean.
It remains a mystery how I came to beincludedin this Christmas gathering. But that invitation washardly cause forraucous rejoicing. The last thing this sailor’s fading ghost wanted to do was attend a Christmaspartycelebrating long-time friendships withyes, sorry, boisterous bonhomie.
Meanwhile, across the island, a woman whose mother had recently died, and who was on the outs with her boyfriend slash jerk –wasthinking the same thing.
I’m not going, we both told ourselves. No possible way. Not when the fully-guaranteed,number oneinfallible strategy to feel even lonelier is to surround yourself with people who aren’t.
Only in a Christmas Storywouldbothmiserable soulshem-and-hee-haw until the very last minute, before forcing themselves to show up separately at a house already bursting with folks way too happy to cope with for long.
Of course, I was not going toactually talk tosomeone I didn’t know. SoI was standing there with a glass in my hand thinking,I’ll just duck out the back, when I overhearda striking woman with an Americanaccentintroduce herself to some dolt who could barely fake interest.
“I’m from California,” she was saying.
My ears perked up.
“I used to sail on San Francisco Bay.”
That guyobviously had no clue as to the rarity of any female person making this claim on Hornby Island. But Captain Blighsure did. Pressingthe point of his cutlass into my back, myinvisible taskmastermade mewalk over and presentmyselfwith a scintillating opener that should have gone viral on YouTube:
“So, you’re from California…”
Turns out, she’d been checking me out. But was too chicken to approach someone who’s vibe grouched:Keep Clear!
Or words to that effect.
The rest, as they say, was an animated conversation involving boats, sailing, San Francisco, Celerity and pheromones.
And so on.
I say, bah humbug! to the Covid Scrooges. And take heart, lubbers and sailors alike. Toreach someone or someplace better, you first have to cast off the lines holding you to the dock.
And for the truly daring who have calculated their chances of catching covid from someone they know who doesn’t have it… (carefully) hug.
Or at least, pick up the phone.
Christmas 2020 Post-Script:
For 20 years – throughsteadfast mutual support, daily check-ins, and conversations only Americans can have –“ChristmasGirl” remains my best friend on Hornby andplanet Earth.And for all I know, beyond.
This one’s for her.