When I woke up the next day I felt like I’d run a marathon — or maybe gone a few rounds with Ronda Rousey. But I wasn’t the only one feeling rough. When I got to the galley, I found Jimmy and Tulia sitting at the table sipping cups of coffee as if their lives depended on it. They probably did.
I got my own cup and joined them. “So, what’s on for today?”
“Recovery,” Tulia said over the rim of her cup.
“Mat said the weather is fine to leave tomorrow, so she suggested we just push through today, get an early night tonight and leave in the morning.”
“How far is it?” I asked, mentally planning for several days at sea.
“Seventy miles, give or take,” Jimmy said. “We should be there in time to get dinner out.”
Math had always been my strong suit but my foggy mind took longer to recalculate my assumptions and it took a moment before I got it. “It’s only a day trip!” Jimmy nodded sleepily.
The now-familiar feeling of guilt grew even more. We’d stayed in Pago Pago so I could contact my family, because I’d assumed that when we left we’d be at sea for days. But they surely had telephones in Samoa — we could have left days before.
I grabbed a slice of toast from the plate in the middle of the table and chewed. The rational part of my brain knew that what was done was done and there was no point in dwelling on it now. The lizard part of my brain couldn’t stop feeling like I’d let everyone down — my family, the crew… I hadn’t even been down to check on the servers in days. I was a total waste of space.
“You guys need me for anything?”
Tulia shook her head and Jimmy just looked confused. Yeah, what would they need me for? From the perspective of actually running the boat, I was entirely superfluous. “Okay, then, see you later.”
I topped off my coffee and carried it out the door of the galley. There was a trapdoor nearby which slid out of the floor and led down to the server room. I walked down the ladder carefully so as not to spill my coffee and set my cup on the workstation while I booted the laptop.
The servers were set up to automatically switch between a local cell network and the satellite communications system we used at sea. We’d had some traffic issues recently, but since headquarters had sent new hardware and software to deal with it, everything had been running smoothly. At least, it had been running smoothly the last time I checked.
I held my breath as I waited for the log files to open. Everything was still fine, and my breath came out in a whoosh. I wasn’t surprised — there was no reason I could think of for things to have deteriorated, but I had an illogical feeling that everything was going wrong. It seemed to go against the run of play that something was working right.
It made me stop and take stock. I knew I was messed up from grief over my grandmother’s death. I was focussing on not being there, on feeling guilty, maybe so I wouldn’t have to really think about the fact that she was gone.
I’d been close to Grandma, much closer to her and Grandpa than to my father’s parents who lived in Trinidad. Grandma and Grandpa lived down the street and I’d spent many days in their house. She was the kind of grandparent who was more like a friend to me. She and Grandpa had left India young and come to Canada with not much more than hopes and dreams. She was a big believer in taking risks and trying out new things, the absolute opposite of my careful and conservative nature.
I remember clearly one afternoon in her backyard, when my brother had climbed up the tree while I sat at its foot, warning him of the dangers. Grandma came over and said, “You know, Devi, as your grandmother I’m very happy that you are such a careful and safety-conscious little girl. It makes my life so much easier. But as your friend I really hope that someday you’ll learn to overcome your worries and take a chance on things that might be scary. After all, everything worth doing is a little scary at first.”
At the time I’d been angry at her for taking Nico’s side in the tree-climbing debate. But she was right, of course. She’d been thrilled when I told her I was going away to live for nine months on a boat travelling around the Pacific. I’d, of course, been terrified and was desperately hoping to find a way to get out of it. But that hadn’t happened and here I was, tears rolling down my face as I sat in the bilge of a boat in American Samoa. I’d crossed an ocean, made new friends, and learned to sail all while doing the work I loved and was good at.
I wished I’d gotten the chance to tell her that she was right all along.
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