And missed out completely on internet dating!
One time I got stuck in Alaska for more than two weeks. It was 2006 and I was staying in a remote fishing village after finishing up a contract working for the Department of Fish and Game. I know that sounds like a setup to a joke, but it’s not.
I was trying to get a flight, but there was something about a volcano and ice and lack of pilots that kept me stranded in this tiny town for longer than I had hoped.
I had a job lined up working on a fishing schooner in New York City that was supposed to start at the beginning of April. Each day, I used a calling card with an 800 number to dial my new boss and tell him it would be a little longer before I could start work.
Finally I got on a small plane which took me to a bigger plane which carried me across the country to JFK airport. I took a big blue shuttle to the South Street Seaport and shouldered my heavy bag as I walked along the battered docks towards the new boat that would be my home.
I was 24 years old and two years out of college. While the rest of my friends were starting careers and getting married, I was taking a more meandering path to adulthood. There was one year during this time in my life when I filled out tax returns from five different states. I lived out of a duffel bag and traveled from port to port, living and working on board all kinds of different boats.
On this day, New York was a bewildering contrast to the hidden islands of Alaska. There were tulips and daffodils and everything felt like it was moving very fast.
When I made it to the deck of the boat, I was greeted by a grinning deckhand who grabbed my bag and threw it into my bunk. He was wearing a yellow t-shirt with a giant pheasant silkscreened onto it. We introduced ourselves and got busy working on the deck of this restored fishing vessel that was oddly bobbing in the water next to oil tankers and multi-million dollar yachts.
That summer, we drank beers, told stories and traded insults as we painted, sanded and scrubbed the hull of that old boat.
At the end of the summer we parted ways — me to California and him to Michigan for another contract on another boat.
A month into my time on the west coast, I got a thin envelope in the mail with a letter in it. It was from my blond haired deckhand. I wrote back with newsy stories about my new crew and funny drawings of things the I had seen in California.
For more than a year we went back and forth writing letters. We mailed each other books and photos and finally met up one winter in Vermont for several weeks of scrabble, wine and late nights listening to Richie Havens cds in a cheap rented apartment.
Last night after paying the babysitter and settling in on the sofa next to our screaming sick kid at 10pm, I asked him if this is what he was picturing when he sent me that first letter so many years ago. We laughed not sure if it was better for him to answer ‘yes’ or ‘no’.
I’ve never swiped left or swiped right or struggled to figure out how to describe myself in an online dating profile. I’ve never met up with someone only to find that they dress as a pirate all the time or that they never go anywhere without their pet parrot.
When I read the hilarious accounts of adventures of internet dating, I sometimes feel like I’ve missed out.
But then when I see my wonderful husband with our feverish three year old sleeping in his lap, I know that I haven’t missed anything at all.