I questioned the purpose in my productivity; I wasn’t saving lives or growing cabbages to feed the masses. I was gainfully employed, passing time with piles and stacks of papers. I hadn’t given up entirely on sea dreams or loitering at marinas as close to boats as I could get without stowing away.
In the post Cooper world, there were no men who commanded my interest for longer than a few weeks. They were ordinary. The men who were not ordinary were erratic, creating chaos on the way to ruin. I attracted sailors, fishermen, and the occasional misguided Henry Higgins-doctor/lawyer/dentist, generally much older than I was. Geoff was my savior. He fell in love with Randy a focused, dependable, sweet, naval officer and they set up housekeeping. I spent a lot of time with them, staying out of trouble. Randy got orders to Japan and Geoff, being established in the hospitality industry, found a position at the Mandarin Oriental in Tokyo. I didn’t like to see them go.
Left to my own devices, I became involved with a red-haired, Irishman two decades my senior. It was a bad idea, an emotional disaster. He was self-righteous. Like all of his predecessors, he professed to find me enchanting, precisely the way I was, then commenced a perfidious campaign to change me. He didn’t like it when I swore. I cussed extravagantly. He liked me to read excerpts from Joshua Slocum’s Sailing Alone Around the World to him, which I did once or twice, wishing he would sail around the world alone. I couldn’t manage to shake him. I didn’t have the courage to face the fallout from a direct break. I transferred to Boston, said goodbye before I escaped, intending never to be seen again. Uninvited, he followed me across the country. I was imperious. He was shattered. I was free. It was a relief to breathe the cold, tangy, brine scented air of the north Atlantic.