The cook who would replace me accounted for one of the seventeen mouths I fed yesterday. I suggested that I cook for half the day on Monday, getting her through to lunch and then handing over the reigns for her to do dinner. Only later, after I’d made arrangements to leave, did she tell me that she’d never cooked on a boat before.
Part of me wanted to stay behind a little longer and show her how it’s done. Another part of me thought it better that I didn’t. After all, when I climbed onboard the Neverland, there was no cook to show me how it was done. She’d figure it out. Without me shadowing over her, she’d do it her way.
My own piece of Neverland
While I helped her make lunch, I told her a little about her role.
“You’re their Wendy,” I said.
She looked at me quizzically.
Suddenly, as if I’d conjured him by thinking about Neverland, our first mate, a boyish, barefooted twenty-something well-known in the tall ship world because he’s worked aboard almost every boat, popped his head through the cabin window.
“You know,” he said, “Peter Pan was actually not a nice guy.”
“No,” I said, “that’s because he was a boy.”
“Yeah,” he said, “A boy who didn’t want to grow up.”
“Like I was saying,” I said to the new cook, “You’re their Wendy. Through feeding them, you become the mother figure onboard. The nourishing influence. It’s part of your job to make sure everyone feels at home.”
I knew as I said this that no matter how many times I insisted that it was out of love that I cooked (and I wasn’t lying!), there has always been a selfishness that compels me to cook on boats. I like being the Wendy. I like feeling needed, being lauded for my cooking abilities, knowing they look forward to every meal. It’s really all about ego in the end. No matter how I might gloss it over.
But you’re always either coming or going on boats. This time I left one boat only to be picked up by another. Just after lunch my friend Amy came up alongside (with permission of the captain of course) and I hopped onboard for a day sail around the bay. Though it felt good to run around on deck, raise and lower sails and stand at the helm, I couldn’t shake the notion that I belonged somewhere else.