This was the second time it happened to me - that getting off the boat felt like stepping out of one track on a Choose Your Own Adventure novel. I suddenly found myself in a parallel world, where everything was familiar and much as before. My real life. Or something akin to that. Here it was, going on without me just fine, while I'm over on page 232 doing something that really broke the narrative in two... but I just couldn't resist seeing where it led.
What a horrible thing, those books. I really couldn't stand them. You always knew that the writer had written the story to be read one way and then had to hack it up in pieces for the publisher to print it. So the real goal in reading the book wasn't just to read any old story, but to find the original story - the one where the characters stayed truest to themselves, where the action didn't feel forced, and the ending wasn't odd or abrupt.
I'm certain that I'm spending my days in one of the off tracks. I just don't want to go back yet.
The real world
First I met up with a former lover and while we talked, we shopped for spices and then cold weather gear. We had a great meal at Fatty Crab, a place I've always liked because their Beef Rendang is just like it is in Bali. Unfortunately, the chef changed the recipe, but we still ate some great food.
After lunch I stopped in at Somewhere, where chef had set aside a bunch of spices for me. I got to say hi to all my favorite people and pick up an old paycheck. Then I went for Mexican with old friends. It felt like no time had passed.
Back at the boat
When I got off the jitney late Monday night, I went straight for the shore head. Though we've been here a week, I have never crossed paths with the other crew in the restroom. As we are the only boat in the marina, we are the only ones with access to it. So I was pretty taken off guard when, after entering the code, the door opened from the inside and there was this stranger sitting there.
She was sitting on the bench, on the telephone.
"You scared the livin' shit out of me," I told her.
I came in, set my stuff down on the bench and entered a stall. As I heard her talking, I thought about how I also used the restroom to get away from the boat and have private conversations. I figured she must work on a boat somewhere nearby. I wondered why I hadn't seen her before. Maybe there was a new boat in the marina?
When she finished her conversation and we stood washing up, I told her I lived on a boat in the marina with four gals and had never seen them at the shore head, so I was really surprised to find someone here.
"What boat are you living on?" she asked.
"The Marlin," I said.
She looked at me funny.
"The one at the end of the pier? The tall ship?"
I was about to go on - big, wooden, tilted masts...
"Ah, you're the cook!" she said.
Suddenly I realized I had just met our new first mate.
Coffee-flavored water from Guy & Gallard in midtown
Mango salad, the crab, and the fatty duck at Fatty Crab (plus a drink served in a big ol' coconut)
Ceviches, one of each; guacamoles, one of each; the queso fundido with chorizo and huitlacoche; and lots and lots of margaritas. After we had settled the tab, the manager came over with a bottle of Reposado and I swallowed down one last ounce before heading off for the bus.