Abbotsford Boat Hire
I came to a stop when I saw some water. The place felt familiar and I was in a strange state of mind, determined to reach some kind of solution to a problem I hadn’t defined. I’d asked someone recently who I believe knows a thing or two about life and people if it could get any worse and they had smiled and said very simply, ‘Yes’.
That’s how I came to park my car by the water that evening. The sun was close to setting and it was the end of winter and still cold. I was wearing a three quarter length blue jacket, the brown boots I’d been so proud to buy new. My hair was back in a clasp and I had the jacket belt firmly tied around my waist. I got out of the car and uncharacteristically slammed the door and shoved my hands in my pockets, walking towards the water.
As I drew closer I recognised the place. It was the boathouse in Abbotsford where several years ago my friend and I had hired a boat to take another friend out for her birthday. I’d kept their business card for years because I liked the texture of the thick white rough paper and the blue print of an anchor with swirls of rope, and I liked the type that read Abbotsford Boat Hire. I felt like I’d accidentally walked back into a memory, like revisiting somewhere you were only meant to see once in your life. I became aware of a stillness in the air and looked at the boathouse with a few lights on and a tangle of metal and lanterns and ropes that I glimpsed through the closed door as I walked past. I turned the corner and walked towards the jetty and heard voices talking softly and laughing as if gently teasing each other. There were three people sitting and chatting on the deck of the boathouse, about level with the tide. One person got up. They were pouring wine and it felt to me as if they could often be found in that place doing what they were doing at this time of the day. I looked out at their view.
There were small choppy waves on the surface of the dark water. Everything was so gentle. I walked out to the very edge of the pier. I placed my toes on the edge of the wooden planks as I paced to and fro, still caught in this strange spell of ambivalent determination, as if I expected an answer from the universe, or someone! I didn’t intend to budge until I got one. I was there for some time.
I looked up again. I could hear the people still chatting and the soft tinkling noises of metal and of wood creaking and the sound of the water lapping by my feet and around me. All was very still. The sun was setting. Something invisible seemed to shift. The shadowy trees on the other side of the water felt closer than they were and everything seemed to hum.
I felt safe, timeless, in the presence of a gentle power that would be there for all of time. I felt that I was home. The light was golden, blue, rich, dark, deep. Everything felt close.
I became aware of myself there on the edge of the pier with my furrowed brow and felt myself smile instead. There was a rich, ageless humour there with me, like I’d just understood a joke that was wise and friendly…. a little like my friend who told me, ‘Oh, it gets worse’. I was able, in that moment, to smile with them. I took my hands out of my pocket and took another look in disbelief at this familiar, intimate, immense and gentle sight before me.
I got back in my car and drove to my home.