Fast Ferry – Proviencetown to Boston (9/27/11)

The 90-minute fast ferry will take longer this afternoon. One of the engines has lost power. Still, even if we dock late, I will have time to catch Jet Blue’s red-eye to Phoenix. Besides, I have a plan for the ride from Provincetown. I’ll continue reading Ann Morrow Lindbergh’s Gift from the Sea. Admirable intentions, but the passengers are a definite distraction.

My eyes and ears settle on a man and a woman sitting shoulder to shoulder in the first row of the cabin. They stare at a small screen television set into the wall. They watch Wolfe Blitzer giving a CNN news report. I watch them, the man and the woman watching the TV in silence. How can they sit with perfect posture like two mannequins. I silently yell to them, turn off the television!

A woman appears and stops. Leaning over the couple she begins her own news report. She once lived in California; she majored in psychology. She stayed with friends who have a house in Provincetown. Blitzer’s report on the Michael Jackson autopsy has no audience among the three. Forward in the bow seats, a girl child babbles loudly to her mother and father. She lets out random, piercing screams followed by silence. Four rows ahead a Japanese man holds a cell phone to his left ear. His eyes are closed as he listens to something.

On the starboard side, a yellow Lab is stretched in the down-stay position.  Its owner hovers over a laptop keyboard and screen. The dog watched enviously as the man paused to eat from a Styrofoam container. Good dog. He never moved.

The engine noise, constant and loud, adds to the distractions. Gray water and gray sky barge by the cabin windows. A man on the bow has a wide lens attached to his camera. The wind rips and billows his nylon jacket. He is ready to shoot those first harbor sightings – oil storage tanks, bridges, and old custom houses along the wharfs. Did he photograph the cruise ship Celebrity as it passed? Happy people going to the Bahamas.

Sitting still has chilled my bones. I pull my already buttoned jacket on over my head. I cannot read or concentrate. I go to the snack bar for a cup of hot water. Back at my seat I bob a green tea bag up and down and inhale the musty aroma. No point in forcing the quiet of Lindbergh’s book into my brain. Maybe on the flight to Phoenix I’ll get back to grace and solitude.

At Long Wharf we disembark and head toward Boston’s downtown streets. I look for a “T” – a transit station to take me to the airport.  The weekend in Provincetown with its casual, party-place attitude ends at MacMillan Pier. A red-haired man rushes to a friend walking ahead. A quick few words are exchanged. His knees fold into a jump, and he plants a full-mouth kiss on the lips of his tall friend.

“See you on Friday,” he says with a laugh and a smile. Off he goes rushing to another destination.

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