Sea Wife - Amity Gaige Page 0,1

places they’ve been. I have no idea where Michael got the muscle shirt. Panama City? It was white, with huge armholes. Standing ashore, beaming, with his boyish face and unwashed hair, he looked like a prep-school kid who’d gotten lost on a hike about twenty years ago.

The crew of our vessel is fit and in good spirits. Bosun Sybil Partlow (age 7) is sitting in First Mate Juliet Partlow’s lap in the cockpit. Deckhand George “Doodle” Partlow (age 2?) is doing his best to stand upright in the small swell. He’s pantless, waiting for First Mate to let him whiz off of the side of the boat. His slightly delayed vocabulary is strictly maritime. Boat go, fish go. We were just visited by a very large sea turtle! Surfacing portside with a head like a periscope. Sybil says it’s a spy. Whenever Sybil says anything cute, she tells me to write it down. That turtle’s a spy, write that down in your book, Daddy.

Pardon me? I say. Are you speaking to me? What do you call me underway, Bosun?

She laughs. Fine, write that down in your book, Captain.

* * *

The muscle shirt was so funny because he’s normally such a neatnik, a dandy, and a rearranger. He needs almost no sleep. His mother said he’d always been that way. Here at the house, he used to work late into the night, sending emails and finishing reports, but mostly, man-tinkering. Learning about electrical wiring by gutting another appliance or making little toys for the kids. Sometimes he’d even go across the brook, where he’d built a fire pit, and we’d sleep to the rustic scent of wood smoke.

In the morning, he’d leave for work as shiny as an apple. He wouldn’t let the children eat in his commuting car. Goldfish, Triscuits—verboten. But the family car, my car? Lawless. A layer of organic material composted under the seats. Mysterious objects thumped against the wheel wells whenever I made a sharp turn.

I understand it now, sitting here. I understand how nice it must have been for him to have a little fiefdom—a closet, where shoes are paired, and the world is shut out, and you get to make all your own choices.

My closet, just there on the other side of our bedroom, is haphazard. I gave up trying to neaten it when Sybil was a toddler. After months of hanging them up, I just left all the blouses on the floor, where they’d fallen after she’d pulled them off the hangers. She’d shuffle out of the closet in my shoes, unsteady as a drunk, and leave them where I’d never find them.

But I am a mother. Gradually, I just gave them all away, all my spaces, one by one, down to the very last closet.

January 17. 6 p.m. LOG OF YACHT ‘JULIET.’ Cayos Limones. 09° 32.7?N 078° 54.0?W. NOTES AND REMARKS: Made it here to Cayos Limones no problem & are anchored off small island with a good holding. Sybil is jumping off the transom while her mom is wrestling Doodle out of his swimmy shirt.

* * *

Smile! they used to say to sad-sack little girls like me. Then feminism came along and said fuck smiling—you’d never force a boy to smile. But as it turns out—recent studies show—that the physical act of smiling does increase one’s feeling of well-being.

So sometimes I practice.

I sit here in my closet and grimace.

January 18. 2 a.m. LOG OF YACHT ‘JULIET.’ Cayos Limones. NOTES AND REMARKS: We are inching toward middle of nowhere. Limones is an untouched archipelago of many sheltered islands w/ fringing reefs & clear waters. Not one single man-made structure. Only the sound of the surf crashing against the windward reef. It’s the middle of the night & I can’t sleep. Just cleaned all the corroded connections on the battery. More company here than I would like, due to proximity to the mainland. Folks from all over the world. At least our kids have other kids to play w/ & Juliet has other women to commiserate w/ over warm white wine.

I know it appears that what we are doing is radical. But the truth is, there are so many people out here. Sprinkled all