I first saw the Mediterranean from the window of a small plane flying me from Athens to Chania, Crete. I had a window seat and was positively giddy, we’d arrived from the States that morning and had been cooped up in the airport for the whole day, waiting to start our travels in the south. As we climbed up into the sky, we were looking out at the same landscape Icarus would have seen as he beat his wings, a sea more strikingly blue than the sky, and rocky islands of all sizes in every direction.
I’m from Long Island, I only need to walk a half a block from my house to see water, and take a leisurely five minute stroll if I want to see the the Great South Bay and the purplish sliver that is Fire Island. I grew up swimming in the Atlantic Ocean and in the Bay and the Sound, and the Ocean always held a special place in my heart. But somehow I was never interested in sailing, everyone from my cousin to two of my best friends growing up owned sailboats and went out on the water practically each weekend in the summer, but I just missed the boat so to speak (😉).
Then I was in Greece, staring out at Homer’s wine dark sea and I got it. I finally saw how freeing and incredible sailing could be, the Aegean made me fall in love with the water all over again because it was simply too gorgeous to not love it and want to be surrounded by it forever.
I think it was on the ferry from Crete to Santorini when it first came up. This was a huge slow boat, six hours or so, and we passed the time by playing with cards, reading, napping, and wandering onto the deck. Some of us were standing out there at the time, another person from the group had seen dolphins shortly before, and we were jealous and skeptical. We never saw dolphins, but we stared at the churning blues of the water for a good long time as small sailboats drifted along their own trajectories.
I mentioned how the desire to sailing suddenly made sense to me in the face of this place, everyone understood, they’d been feeling the same way. Someone mentioned how they’d love to commandeer one of the drifting sailboats and just explore the whole of the Med. We all agreed it would be magical.
I don’t know when exactly the idle longing changed to a MacAthrurian promise, but it did. I distinctly remember lying under the pine trees at Bisti, a beach on the Saronic Gulf Island of Hydra, and planning out the adventure. It was a three day weekend and my friend and I had booked it from Athens to Hydra for some well deserved R&R, Hydra is the only Greek island without any cars and it was exactly what we needed. Bisti is only accessible by boat and we spent most of the day swimming and lounging around. We had spent a lot of time walking past the bustling harbor, seeing the sailboats come and go, and at some point one of us said that we really would love to come back, on our own boat. This time the feeling wasn’t idle or fleeting, by the end of that day on Bisti we’d promised that in seven years we would sail around the Mediterranean, from Gibraltar up along the southern coast of Europe to Istanbul and down along Northern Africa and back to Gibraltar, and we meant it.
I don’t know if my friends will come through with this, seven years is a long way away, none of us know how to sail, and it’s a major commitment. But I know that I am going to do this, this voyage pulls at my heart in a way that no other plan ever has before, it’s the sort of voyage that will forever be a piece of your identity and I’m determined to make it part of mine.
I’m writing this down because last night this journey came back into my mind all of a sudden. It wasn’t that I had forgotten about it, it was just that I hadn’t been really thinking about it recently, and all the longing and the excitement came rushing back all at once. I realized that as it stands, only the people who were with me in Greece and my parents know about this harebrained scheme I’m dedicated to, but I want everyone to know, I don’t want to forget or let this dream die. I want to work to make it happen in the full view of whoever cares to watch. So here it is, my manifesto, seven years from now I will sail around the Mediterranean. For now, from Paris, I just need to remember. The real work will start the summer after I graduate, I’d already planned to stay at my parent’s house before going to Graduate school that fall, now I’m planning to learn to sail on my home turf, the Great South Bay.
That’s all for now, but riddle me this: Have you ever had an amazingly grandiose dream? Did you do it?
Much love, Soirishcream>