Tallahassee, FL – January 27, 2013
It looks like a yard sale around my boat, equipment scattered on either side, pulled out of holds and dry bags, thrown into piles.
The waterproof GPS that isn’t. Condensation builds under the glass on hot days, the screen freezes and I have to pry the batteries out to restart it. The weather radio works perfectly because it’s brand new, exchanged for the old one that died on the Mississippi. The skirt is new too, replacing one that couldn’t hold out the Gulf’s waves after six months of rivers and lakes. Every dry bag leaks through small tears and worn seams.
My deck bag has a shattered buckle and leaks water. Rocks, concrete, and oyster bars have scrapped away the edge of my paddle blades and dented the carbon-fiber face like it was made of foam. I glued the bilge pump’s gasket together two-thousand miles ago.
My phone is gone, in some postal service box across the country, mailed back for a second round of repairs. My old tent lies in a heap, its pole snapped, the fly useless against water, and the zippers falling apart. I sent my sleeping bag back for repairs because it de-laminated inside and started growing grapefruit sized bubbles from end to end. Every strap on the two-wheeled cart has broken at least once and the metal is worn almost through.
My pants are ripped. My shirt is two shades lighter than it used to be. My spray jacket lets water in but not out. Even the Looksha has a thousand scratches on her belly and two rudder lines held together with wire clamps after I beat them apart rough portages.
I wonder how I managed to endure.
Then I hold my tight hands, stretch out my back, run my fingers over my cracked heels, and remember that rib aching in my chest.