Six women: we chose each other decades ago, to be together for a time, and we are together still, in our 50’s and 60’s and now we know we will be together ‘til the end.  Our monthly Friday evenings easily warped into stolen week-ends from children and husbands, and then into full-bodied vacations, chosen by the one of us who was turning 40 that year, then 50, and now, even, 60.  We invariably, except for once when we visited the desert mountains of New Mexico, spend our time by the water.  Always the ocean.  We are drawn to the ocean; she has a pull on us that is primal, powerful beyond words.  The ocean feels as necessary to our well-being as breathing.

And so, that day, that week-end, we were heading to Block Island, RI to celebrate the  youngest of us, the last to become 50 years old. We were arriving in spurts of one or two or three because of work and family obligations. Three of us were together, heading to the ferry, early in the morning, to cross to the island.

I pulled up to the little wooden shack where the ticket-taker meets the cars and receives payment for the ferry ride.  The ticket-taker asked for my license plate information; when he learned we are from PA, he mentioned he had lived for a while in Clark Summit.  He had lived there for seven years; when I asked why he had returned to Rhode Island, he said he missed the water.  Although his face was sober, his blue eyes caught the sparkle of the sun as he added that “you can’t live in the foothills of the Poconos when you have wet feet”.  And then he added, “..and you can’t turn into a seal at night”.

I felt a jolt of connection and asked him his name and he told me, Martin.  “Martin,” I said, “Where do you keep your pelt?”

Without a pause, he moved his hand down across his chest and belly and replied, “Oh I just sort of transform into it.”

I grinned at him in delight and he smiled.

A moment, an opportunity, a Gift.