Friday, December 14, 2007

On Being Ferried

Is there even one more straightforward thing you can do in this life?
You drive your stupid vehicle on board and you are instantly free of a whole lot of responsibility, pretty much.
You can’t help this thing float a minute or move an inch, so you might as well relax.
Who stays in the car ever? Nobody.
You get out.
You stretch yourself, pull your shorts out of your crack, [well, at least I do], yawn like a Bengal tiger, and find the stairway to one of the upper levels so you can look at people.
Look at that guy over there. He’s an obvious walk-on! You can tell by his dreads and by the way he’s leaning against that backpack the size of Rhode Island.
There’s a family yonder, jabbering foreignly, infants rolling all over the floor like a litter of dachshunds yipping and yapping.
Just next to them, on a bench seat, Kate and Leonardo are necking like this is the doomed voyage. Maybe these two should have stayed in the car, a la that one scene in Titanic.
You step into the souvenir shop where, among other things you don’t want, they are selling all the books that should never be bought. And people are buying them! There’s a smell of old breakfast from the snack lounge.
And whether you want to or not, you step out onto the outside deck where the wind, day or night, is fierce enough to rip your wig off and toss you naked as your birthday into the broiling sea.
You stare at the wake and the churning bubbles make you dreamy.
Then you hope to see a dolphin, and never do.
But all in all there is no peace quite like the ferry ride. I love it when the whole deal bumps itself safely on the other side. Here you are briskly vomited or shat, and it matters not which.
All that matters is that you, clanking your way off, and perhaps waving at the bored attendant in the florescent “Don’t hit me” vest, are wonderfully dry, and a bit closer now to where you need to be.



Soph said...

"And you ate an apple, and I ate a pear,
From a dozen of each we had bought somewhere;
And the sky went wan, and the wind came cold,
And the sun rose dripping, a bucketful of gold..."

Both of you astute observers. . .

cipriano said...

Totally, Soph.
I was thinking of her Recuerdo as I wrote this, tonight.

We were very tired, we were very merry --
We had gone back and forth all night on the ferry.

For me, there was a time when I frequently travelled between the mainland and Vancouver Island, and the ferry ride was always a time of incredible, unexplainable, peace.

Shark said...

One night my friend Steve and I were stranded in Kingston with no place to go. We slept in the vestibule of a bank until about 5 am when the custodian kicked us out. Kingston is a nice town, but there isn't much to do at 5am on a Sunday, so we decided to catch the first ferry of the morning to Wolfe Island. We found a small corner on the lower deck and fell asleep sitting up, leaning shoulder to shoulder. The highlight of the adventure was a small wooden sign that somebody had carved by hand and hung on a tree by the side of the road; "It aint braggin if its true, Wolfe Island".

Beth said...

I didn't know you wore a wig.

Book Calendar said...

The Staten Island Ferry in New York was always entertaining for me to ride when I lived in Staten Island New York. Like a lot of New Yorkers, I'd read on the commute while the buskers would play their keyboard soul music. The bottom of the boat would take a few cars over to Manhattan, but for most it was a way to avoid driving in Manhattan.

The top level was always packed with people. They served hot dogs, beer and soda at outrageous prices. I would only buy tea on the boat because it was the only thing that was reasonably priced and it went along with my reading.

The tourists would take the Staten Island ferry to pass the Statue of Liberty so there were always people with cameras. There was one person who would wander around the boat trying to sell you black and white polaroid pictures. He reminded me of a ghost or a vampire for some reason.

Anyways, the best part was finding an isolated corner to sit in, maybe next to the window so you could look out at the ocean, read a book and sip tea.