#26 Discovering Love.... Loving Life

As if resurrected from an eternal singleness, my world was rocked over 2 years ago. So yes, I owe an apology and an explanation. At the time of my last entry I was wonderfully juggling island life, what with doing Graphic Design for Coldwell Banker R/E Group on San Juan Island. All the while crewing on an 80' Square Rigged Schooner name Spike Africa. Traveling when I could as you can see from the previous pages... (Start @ page one, for continuity sake..)

The summer of 19' saw more than 1700 passengers come across the rail of the Spike... honeymooners, reunions, those mourning the loss of someone, corporate getaways... even wedding parties. None of these passengers lingered in my thoughts after the evening cruise was over. So as the summer's activities were winding down, it was more of the "is it September yet?"

On this fateful 28th day of August 19' it was the usual queuing up of tourists spattered with a few locals. A young woman (45ish) and another woman in her early 50's came onboard. Perhaps a couple, maybe not, in today's world I stopped guessing as I was undoubtedly wrong most of the time. 

Both small build & friendly, I engaged the two with the thought of finding more out about the elder of the two. Beautiful smile, slightly reserved and a softness of fashion that caused her to stand out even more. As was my job, I solicited the assistance of the two with the raising of the 80' tall sails. Sara... (the younger one) was nudged out front by the other to act as a buffer and to take on the role of, interim sail master. Sara would do a fine job hoisting and securing the lines, though this didn't get me closer to this wonderful smile and radiating spirit of the other. 

As there were 18 other passengers and 4 crew aboard, my attention was spread throughout the vessel for more than a few activities.  Distribution of pillows, a few throw blankets and "The Answer Guy" to the silly though seriously asked questions: *What time do the whales feed? *Are those Islands there year around? *What's the elevation on the island? Yes.... REAL QUESTIONS!!

My focus was still on the mystery woman. Her curly hair coupled with her smile made for a focused targeting to get a word in and see if my "coupled" thoughts were incorrect. Once out of the harbor, my job was to find passengers who might want to steer this behemoth of a vessel. Needless to say, I bypassed many an able-bodied passengers to get to "her". 

Knowing nothing about this young lady, I reached out an easily accessible hand and asked if she'd like to steer the Spike? Before she had a chance to push Sara out front, I gently tugged on her hand and led her aft-ward to the helm. Gently handing this lady off to the Captain for some instructions and proper placement with the wheel in hand. Her "friend" followed to capture this once in a lifetime photo op for posterity. Sara would inadvertently position herself all the way aft, behind our mystery girl, to shoot forward capturing Mt. Baker in the shot. It wasn't until weeks later when the photo was shared that the photo showed a lanky fellow, standing, looking down upon her, mesmerized by this woman.... (but I digress..)

As we got underway, soft seas, I stepped down into the well of the vessel, to where "she" stood. The ships wheel in one hand with the other hand free and I committed to "the move"....

"I'm Kelly" .....

"I'm Leslie" was here response... "Nice to meet you".... as our soft handshake lingered for what seemed like a pleasant eternity.... I knew then.... THEY WEREN'T A COUPLE... 

The handshake finally ended much to my chagrin, and my duties took me forward to check on the other passengers. Pointing out Bald eagles, harbor seals, harbor porpoise and of course keeping watch for the elusive Orca whales that frequented our archipelago. I'm not sure how long I was away but it seemed like a month of Sundays dredging their way through molasses on a winters day.... (nice visual eh?)

Mid ship I saw Leslie again, beaming from the skippering of the vessel I'm sure. "How was that?" I believe was my inquiry. Her smile and appreciation was matched. As if by some magical force, the other passengers became self sufficient, intermingling amongst themselves, the other crew participating in this vessels activity. Stealing an extra moment with Leslie was all I could focus on. 

In a very short period of time, it was revealed that we both liked travel, we both worked on the island (she'd spend her days at "the job site". As our chat continues it was suggested she check out my travel blog. She'd previously lived in Costa Rica which had been on my short list for future travels. I suggested she "open a browser" on her phone so I could input my site address. Unsure what a browser was, we opted to have her give me her phone number... well this was a shocking act as per her straight sidekick Sara.... "you just gave him your cell number".... and I thought... YES SHE DID!! 😉

All this must come to an end too... or does it? We pull into our slip, crew busying ourselves with our duties... not trying to be visibly accessible to my new friend as I threw the dock lines or readied the steps for disembarking. Our crew spot onboard came with a shift meal @ the Cask & Schooner restaurant. The owner of the vessel also owned two local, quite good eateries... C&S and Tops'il Sushi. 

So it was up the ramp to C&S for some fish & chips. Saying good bye to ALL the passengers prevented me from singling out Leslie, so my hopes would be a reciprocity of text messages after the vessel was put away and secured for the night.. as I arrived at the bar, seated across the 30" of hardwood bar decking I ordered my usual Chukanut Pilsner... 

Taking this opportunity to text Ms. Leslie, to thank her for the smiles. 25 years in business and sales, it was ingrained in my subconscious mind to "get the next meeting"...

I'd suggested we get together for a breaking of bread or a cold beverage sometime in the next couple of days... and so it was planned. We'd get together Sunday (this was Wednesday) and we'd meet in town and see if we liked each other... 😉

Just then, the bartender informed me, I must relinquish my seat to a paying customer and asked if I'd sit out on the deck to finish my shift meal.... "no problem"... I gathered my food and barley soup... 😉 and made my way out. Scurrying to vacate the seat, it didn't dawn on me to take a perusal of the dining room bar area, so out I went. 

Settled now with the ferry terminal and marina as my view, I dove back into texting Leslie. She mentioned she was grabbing a bite at one of the islands many eateries with Sara. Giving a debriefing of our texts I'm assuming.

I reluctantly mentioned "I was done and heading back into my bartender friend to slip him a $5.00 tip for putting up with me"... bussing my own table, I walked back into the bar and placed my dinnerware in the tub, turned to walk out and..... there Leslie was, inside all this time, now sharing my last text with Sara. 

Seldom stymied and even less at a loss for words, I'm sure my awkward banter was something like..."of all the gin joints"... then the inner voice kicks in.... "don't stare".... "engage the friend" (thanks Hitch..) and most importantly.... keep the mystery alive... become scarce... 

We'd already made plans to get together Sunday... I kept telling myself. She'd mentioned she'd have an early morning on the jobsite, perhaps tomorrow afternoon we'd touch bases. 

Jobsite.... on the island, it wasn't uncommon for women to be carpenters and landscapers, so an early am jobsite wasn't anything that popped out to me as unusual. 

So I returned to my apartment by myself, full of smiles and sleepless anticipation. Island life is beautiful in so many ways, HOWEVER in the single world... there's often a shortage of single ladies that make themselves available. So I hoped, even prayed a moment that I may have found one when I wasn't even looking. 

Thursday am comes and I'm off to work. Weekly, Monthly, Quaterly and a Huge Yearly publication was my "to-do" list, upstairs in my office space @ CBSJI... the cordial greetings with the realtors and management team was the standard routine. Creativity flowing and the bustling sidewalks of town filled my space though my mind was on the lingering warm and soft handshake from the previous evening. 

"Ooooooh what the hell" was my inner voices' nudge.... "text her".... an unrelenting encouragement came from within... so I did!! 

"Is it Sunday yet".... 

"Great Smiles last  night, thank you once again"...

Now of course the inner negative voice kicks in.... 🙄 😒 😑 

Back to work and the failed attempts to be distracted. With the afternoon winding down, it was a questioning of my word choice? Timing in her life? (As I knew nothing about her...)

No sailing tonight, so I'd sit home wondering... hmmmmmmmmm...

Ding ding... ding ding... my phone chimes and it's the most beautiful sound ever heard.  

Let's go back in time just a moment. To put things into perspective.... being a single guy at this exact moment in time, there was a lady friend that was coming to visit from off island, this next Sunday. Second date kinda thing. So I was planning on canceling this second date as "an island girl" is easier to court....

 

And court we did..... we were married 6 weeks later....