Share the Road

Lagoon Pond Drawbridge, Oak Bluffs, Tisbury, Vineyard Haven.

A lot of different vehicles on one road.

Sailing to me is a little bit like being one of those smiling drivers who for joy go around our island in antique cars. He is not keeping up with the faster traffic, so drivers in younger cars are quick to pass, and rush on. Nonetheless, he is happy.

Sure he has committed himself to getting to a destination, but the great joy of being the driver of a slow antique car or a slow sailboat is different.

We all know the journey is a big deal, the whole deal when it comes to describing what we are doing.

When sailing in the summer, I find myself surrounded by a lot of fast boats. Part of their ride is tied up in the idea that they should already be where they want to be. Their helmsman is trying to shave time off the trip.

Add to our waterfront community the lightning fast powerboats, a cut above all fast boats. They create quite a stir because in flight their operator likes a touch of terror and huge wake behind his stern. For those high speed motorboat operators, they aren’t rushing just to get somewhere. Their mission is to feel speed.

Their drama includes having a white knuckle hand on the rail, bouncing their kidneys and being oblivious to the shouts of others crying out: “Slow down.”

He passes me to get somewhere quickly. For me, my destination is the farthest thought. Why would I want to end the fun quickly? And right now I have to go through those big waves he created.

My sailing metaphor works well for me when I am driving a car. And while I am constantly trying to be safe and fast, I am often surrounded by people at the wheel who are in a hurry to get where they are going faster than I. God bless them.

Call it age. I am getting old and my level of appreciation has changed. I remember my grandmother, Elsie Lovewell, slowly driving her 1974 Buick Apollo through the streets of Edgartown. She was low in her seat and her eyes barely rose above her two hands at the top of the steering wheel.

You were an unlucky driver if you were in a rush to be somewhere and you got caught behind her shiny tank as she drove downtown to check her mail. Who could find room in the road to pass? Her metallic olive green car was gigantic and creeped along. She drove into her 90s.

In age, I am not there yet. But already the older I get, the more I wrap myself around the thought: all the way to the end, she had a wicked good time driving that car.

A few still remember her, many more knew that car.