If you’ve been following this blog for a while, you will know I dream about tugboats sometimes – granted, dreaming is about as much as i get to do about them these days. I like all sorts of boats though. I like the way most of them smell – of brine, fuel, fish, rotting seaweed, barnacle, wet rope, rusting anchors and other things. I love the shape of them, the way they move in the water; some, foursquare and unshakable as anything, others that roll and pitch in a ripple, and still others that skim the surface with sheer contact, like sea birds.
I don’t know much about boats; they simply appeal to the aesthetics of all my senses (except perhaps taste; i’ve yet to go that far). It is mentioned in the Tug Boat Dreaming post that the credit for this sea-love goes to my father.
I learned during my trip back to Asia last Christmas, that I’d overlooked another, perhaps deeper connection.
Did you know that my mother had spent a large part of her younger years wanting to run away to sea?
Neither did I.
Until then anyway. I was stunned.
My mother is a woman of many mysteries. She doesn’t talk about herself much, except when I’ve managed to keep her awake and sufficiently lubricated with whiskey to dig some stories out of her, which is then still hard work, believe you me! She’s had a hard life, as many of that generation, in the motherland, have had. And like many of that generation, further education, self discovery, realising dreams and all that other stuff we love to talk about doing so much these days, was no more than a figment idea. They just got down to work, to survive and ensure the well being of those close to them. Pure, practical, simple. Hard yards.
Mom’s late paternal uncle (my late grand uncle) was a sailor, and remained that until the end of his days. He lived all over the place, but later settled in Hong Kong while the rest of the family were scattered around Malaysia and Singapore. His life and its work captured the imagination of one young woman. My mother.
Who then spent many nights in her youth dreaming about running away to sea.
Yep, thought so.
That Mom had this particular mad compulsion shocks me for two reasons:
1. She gets horrendously seasick. It is tempered by the anti-sick aids you can get in pharmacies these days, but she still suffers on the water regardless.
2. It is a huge departure from the small, fierce, no-nonsense woman I know, who worked like a dog and raised me to tackle the hardships of life and my own silly fancies with an iron practicality. I admit, I live a cushy enough life not to heed this too closely, but the lessons are there. I’ve always known that my mom has a crazy-escapade side through the proxy of my dad’s stories, but I have never seen it, or heard about it from her.
As I grow older, I appreciate more that Mom and Dad have many other facets than the parental ones I grew up with, but occasionally, some of these quirks still do my head in.
I’d taken this set of images during one visit to Flemming while he was in Perth, and living on True North Mark‘s boat. I’d find excuses to barge in on him if he was ‘home’ and just sit at the stern and feel the boat shift with the water, a hand on the many ropes securing her inside her berth, take pictures, talk to Flemming about random crap, and then schlep off with immense reluctance when it was time to go back to the landlubbing life.
I think my mom will enjoy them, if/when she still remembers I have a blog. But this is for everyone who has ever dreamt of boats as real magic carpets.