The coolest car guy I have ever known used to cavalierly allow me to drive every last stupid-fast car that he ever had. I looked at him in disbelief when he told me I could learn how to drive a manual transmission on his souped-up beyond belief Subaru that had made the cover of “Sports Compact Car” magazine. Grinding away on the aftermarket clutch would have been sacrilege! “It’s just a car.” That is all he said. Did I mention I was in high school and had only had my license a year? “It’s just a car.” Eventually I came to appreciate his stance and attitude as very grounded. He maintained perspective on something most others lost sight of: possessions like cars, in the big picture are just things. I respected him for it greatly, and thought about how I ought to aspire to have that sensibility someday. Almost ten years later (just a few weeks ago), I stood next to the boat I had used regularly for 7 years and ran my hand down her side. It was time to say goodbye… it was just a boat… just a thing… but somehow it had transcended being an inanimate object, and almost became a friend. Could I respect myself in that?
Over time, I think a special bond can be created between a person and something like a boat. After all, that boat had been a key part of many memories over seven years. For the first time in that boat, I was the captain of “that boat,” the one that kept putting fish after fish in the box, while others in the area had resigned to spectating. I speared my first wave in that boat- I put the bow headlong through a steep wave from an ocean-going tug, and brought a foot of icy-cold, early spring, Columbia River water right over the windshield and into the laps of me and my passengers. For three years, I have celebrated my birthday with that boat, fishing with friends and family. It was there for first dates, wipeouts on skis and wakeboards, thousands of smiles and laughs shared between fishermen and fisherwomen, first-timers and old-pros. I “got my feet wet,” so-to-speak, in that boat, and eventually honed my skills as a skipper and fishermen with it.
And as I stood there, warm hand on cold fiberglass, all these memories streaming through my mind, recollecting thousands of hours spent together, I realized this boat was more than just a thing. This boat was a basin of memories, smiles and laughter, it represented seven years of my life, doing what I love doing. Indeed, my boat and I had developed a connection that I would have never guessed would come to be, but now, it was time to say goodbye. It was time for someone else to start building memories and connections with her, and in what must be an ultimate sign of masculinity, as I stood there saying goodbye, I felt my eyes swell up with tears. A manly cough and a sweep of the eyes with my sleeve and the moment was over. They came and towed that boat away the next day, and the thing was gone. But just like an old friend, there was always be a special place in my heart for that boat.