really wasn’t into the family gathering on the 4th – I’d have rather stayed home and done my own things. But family gatherings are like gravity wells; hard to escape. We drove out to the beach and went on in.
My siblings were tech-talking, swapping aps and gesturing to tiny videos on tiny screens. As far is inclusiveness goes, it’s like those times I walk into a workplace galley and the Indians huddling there switch from English to Hindi. So I’m not sure what to say and I foolishly didn’t bring a book.
But dad’s shelf is in the hall, and dad’s books are in its ranks. There were a lot of nautical historical fictions, Hormblower and Aubry and the like. And there on the bottom, a single book all on its own, not part of any evident series (though the author wishes it were so). And as I pulled it out, I realize that my dad might have been the last to touch it. This was his book, and I know what goes into the thought on adding a novel to always limited shelf-space – the book earned its way in.
Settled down on the couch and started to read, ignoring the background noises.
A hard gale blew off the Atlantic at dusk, west by south, raising a steep, breaking sea. All through the first watch pale crests surged out of the darkness, lifted in ghostly rumblings, then boomed against the forward quarter, staggering the ship.
And thus I was transported to a beleaguered short-handed ship fighting for its life in the wet dark. There is death about, and worse. And it took me into my own place, not with my siblings but with my father. I just enjoyed my time with him. Happily, mom let me borrow it so I can finish it at my leisure (still have a huge Stephenson to knock off).
Books do that. They are our companions when none are about.
p.s. I’m going to catch shit for writing this.