D.O.T.D.K

This dock
It’s run through my life like a river

Spent every day in the summer of ’94 on it’s end
Treble hook in hand,
Hands trembling,
Squeezing bits of white bread together – bait for my bait,
Catching Smelt by hand,
Should have smelled my hands
Pulling Mussels off the pilings
Orange and black and slimy
(Took me 10 years before I could eat one in Gumbo or Paella)
I was 10 years old
Didn’t do much but feed the local baitfish back then; although I once caught a Halibut on a borrowed sardine from the bait well of a cabin cruiser
I yelled “Hook Up!”
And the old man from Jaws himself hopped to from boat to dock and helped me land it –
Eighteen-and-a-half inches,
Three point five short of legal
It was still the best day of my life
I ran home and told my parents
We barbecued hamburgers in celebration

Two years later I would be back on this dock,
Taking out a fourteen foot Capri sloop for a quick loop while the watersports boss looked on,
I told him I could sail –
In truth I had learned most from books – I had read every single book on sailing in my school’s library that year – even Kon-Tiki –
Luckily a neighbor’s 16.5 Hobie Cat had filled in where books couldn’t,
I knew how to tack,
And a tiller felt much more natural in my hands than a fishing pole ever had
I spent the next two summers teaching sailing,
In my salt water dyed khaki shorts and an aqua marine polo shirt, I loved every day at work

This would also be the stage for my first romances
My breath stops just thinking about those German eyes,
As pretty as a model ever was
Or the healthy boobs and thighs of a girl for whom I had returned after work in my swim trunks to sneak in the resort’s jacuzzi with,
I wonder if she remembers the boat rental boy
Kissing her in the hot tub was better than Disneyland –
I was 14 and there wasn’t a better place in the world for a boy to come of age

Four years later I was on my first leave –
The sailor boy had joined the Navy –
My crazy best friend of course had some girls who wanted to hang out –
I remember the moment I saw her
She was in the back seat and I stood at the window
It was probably instant
We walked from the valet through the lobby and to the dock
She had no chance –
I was the Navy Boy who had taught sailing
In ripped light-blue Diesel jeans and a white T
I was 18 years old
Sipping SoCo and singing Someday to her as we walked on the sand
I know the exact spot
“In many ways, we’ll miss the good ‘ol days – someday, someday”
– Prophetic words

For I did miss them four and a half years later when we broke up –
I used to come here alone at night,
G-d I missed everything so much
But we came back when we got back together two and a half years later
I took her to dinner at the hotel and we went out on the William D. Evans afterwards
I was 24 and back madly in love

And I’ve been here a time or three since
A booze cruise or two
And now I’m back here alone –
I’m 29
Writing this on my phone
Sitting on the walkway before the locked gates
Looking back on my fate
So thankful for this beautiful damn little boat dock

I don’t know what the future holds
But I know this dock will be here for me
Waiting for me to tie up to it
And I know it will all be okay
Because there’s still magic left in this dock
And there’s still magic left in these bones
So I’ll leave knowing I’ll be back to claim the dreams I planted as a boy
Dreams only this dock knows

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