I am an Island

I am an Island

Locals at the Azalea Parade.

Locals at the Azalea Parade.

Today more than 2700 visitors walked across our deck. It was a zoo. We were the animals. People were constantly assailing me: “What are you making?” “Mmmm. Smells good!” “Look, it’s a kitchen!” and the uber-annoying middle-aged men who lean in over their kids’ head and say, “Hey, can I get a cheeseburger and some fries?”

Today one little girl stopped to peer in and was particularly chatty.
“You get lonely?” she asked right off the bat.
“No,” I said. “I like being alone. When I took this job I was actually worried about never getting time alone.”
“You get to cook whatever you want?”
“Yep.”
“You get to go out and haul on the sails, too?”
“Sometimes. When I get all my work done.”
“You got kids?”
“Nope.”
“Wow,” she said with a sigh. “You really have it all.”

I chuckled. Most of the time it feels like I do. Most of the time I tell people that I have landed the best job ever. But sometimes I wonder if I’m running.

When I interviewed with Captain Wright for the job on the Neverland, I told him that one of my main concerns was the lack of privacy. “I’ve lived alone for eight years,” I said. “How do you get away?”

Funny thing is, after my parents left I saw myself in their eyes. I had to ask myself if, lacking a family of my own, maybe part of the reason I’m here is to be part of this “family.” The follow-up question was: Is that okay? Is it okay if what I’m doing is trying to escape the fact that I don’t have what most of my friends have – a house, a husband, kids?

Moving parts
Tomorrow is Kip’s last day. It seems to have come out of the blue. I asked him if he wanted me to make anything special for our meals. He said a Dutch Baby and smoothies for breakfast. Done. His leaving feels odd to me, like we’re losing a family member. Yet, like a little floating organism losing a few atoms, we will just re-assimilate. By Thursday our regular captain will return to her post, and the organism will shift its cells again and re-assimilate. Expunge, absorb. Expunge, absorb. It doesn’t make change sound all that difficult.

“We don’t like change,” Captain Wright once told me. He was referring to the uniform, I think, my short shorts; and the fact that I was wearing Five Finger shoes instead of sandals. At the time it struck me as an odd statement for a sailor to make – because change on a boat is constant and all around you.

Saturday’s Menu
Breakfast
Swedish hash (pitti panne) with potatoes, ham and beets; scrambled eggs
Lunch
Chili and a Build-Your-Own Sandwich buffet with caramelized onions; leftover mashed potatoes; Aleppo pepper hummus; regular hummus; apple compote; ham; lettuce
Dinner
Jamaican stew on mashed potatoes; salad with toasted pine nuts, dried cherries and celery
Dessert
The crew asked what they were called and I said I guess I’d sort of invented them, so I didn’t know. “C. Cook’s Bars?” I joked. “Or maybe: Caramel Graham Bars?” “C. Cook’s Bars is much better,” they agreed. So it is.

C. Cook's chocolate chip bars.

C. Cook’s chocolate chip bars.

C. Cook’s Bars
2 cups ground graham crackers
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup butter
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2- 3/4 cup lightly salted peanuts, chopped
1/2 cup chocolate chips

Spread graham crumbs into greased baking pan. Melt sugar and butter until boiling; remove from heat; add vanilla; stir. Press into pan with flat spatula. Sprinkle peanuts and chocolate chips on top and press into crust. Bake at 350 for 10 minutes. Transfer someplace to cool. (I used the freezer to speed up the process.) Cut into bars.