How quickly the past arrives. Pops has left us, and is already in Paris, on her way back to Sydney. So have Dave and Melinda who are flying back to Australia next week to have Melinda checked over medically. The first was expected, the second came as a surprise. Both happened on the same day, and so this morning, as we wait for the mechanic to come to the boat with the new fuel pump, we are for the first time truly on our own aboard Enki.
Yesterday, after the bus had taken her away to the train station, I cracked open and shook with shock of my daughter's departure. It happens like that for me these days. I respond to my children's love with such eagerness and pleasure. I relax into them, am revived by their knownness and charmed by the new shapes they are taking on. But I don't want to develop serious fissures around my heart, so I'll have to develop much more elasticity in my emotional flesh. Ironic, really. I who was always so breezy about the need to prepare my children to fly from the nest. Now I mourn the loss of that nest, for myself. But it is gone. We are in a new phase of our lives now. They will come and go. I will come and go. We are all flying in different directions, and this is what I wanted. Not for the nest to disintegrate, its straw grow mouldy and smelly, and finally fall out of the tree.
On our last day together, Pops and I took a hydrofoil out to Salina, the island beyond Lipari. Alex chose to stay behind. We left him in his usual position, book in hand, and expected to find him like that when we returned. For us, a day of meandering through the small town of Santa Marina, with its little shady shops cleverly designed to appeal to the discerning taste of holiday makers wealthy enough to own or rent houses on Salina and then a magical bus ride around the lush island to the odd ending of Rinella port where the sand is black and hot, and the sea warm as a bath.
When we came back to the boat, Alex was a changed man, shining with the satisfaction of having "done a few jobs". He'd been out too, searching for fan belts. These things make a man stand up straight, it seems. And so it has continued. And here is the mechanic wheeling a pump...