St. Augustine, FL – April 4, 2013
I shook Charlie’s hand and got back in the boat. Four good hours of paddling left, daylight and a southern breeze. Tomorrow will be different, tomorrow the wind shifts to the north for the next two days so I can’t waste four good hours.
It doesn’t feel right. I don’t mind that my body is sore and I haven’t felt clean in a week. It doesn’t matter that salt is scrapping sores into my skin, that my left big toe is mangled, that my back hurts. That is the deal I made when I decided to rush for Charleston. I knew all that.
But Charlie, he drove up to help me get resupplied and offered to put me up for the night. I wanted to say yes. I should have said yes. I only got a glimpse of his stories. He once sailed into Havana at the height of tensions because be wanted to meet the captain of Hemingway’s ship. He met him too, maybe, I’m not sure. But he went and looked. And I don’t know the story.
The thing about dumping fuel into the fire is that you don’t always get to choose the fuel. Charlie’s stories, two Spanish forts, the oldest city in North America, they catch fire the same as cookie cutter houses, private docks, and condos, but they burn like unread newspapers, they burn with regret.