Conch Fritters.

Jordan - Carolina Beach, North Carolina
Entered on April 29, 2009
Age Group: Under 18
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“It’s his dream. It’s his dream… his dream…” I had to force myself to repeat it as I stood, shaking in the breathtaking January winds that rode along the crests of the wake from my dad’s 50 foot sailboat as it left to travel the world. Waves burst onto the jetty where I shook with an old, cheap pair of binoculars. It was as far as I could possibly go because the tide continued to change and my semi-dry rock became more and more dangerous. I heard my mom’s nervous voice crack, calling for me from the first few rocks, but I ignored her, shivering there, feet planted, never altering my teary gaze until Brigadoon: Wrightsville Beach, NC could no longer be seen.

He left everything behind – only the most necessary, his favorite leather recliner, old pictures my grandma would shoot him over if he lost, his pilot uniform, and of course his favorite sound system, to patiently sit and wait for him at the cheapest storage rate he could find until his return. A three story home masterpiece, bordered by a wrap-around porch then greeted by dancing live oak trees dressed in a perfumed Spanish moss on the Intercoastal was sold for the Brigadoon and bought by a couple that could never cherish its real beauty and significance. The 150-foot dock tiptoeing into the marsh inlet, decorated with God’s salty barbed wire: the oyster beds that often became dinner. His red Chevy I chipped when he taught me how to pressure wash. His ridiculous pilot salary. The “No Regrets” Wrightsville Beach charter boat business where I tried to sell slimy minnows for 50 cents like it was a lemonade stand. Meg, the tail wagging Easter present, whose collar was the only tangible memory left behind for me. All gone… never to be seen again.

His “trip” made no sense whatsoever to me. I’m sure people thought he was insane. It was nothing but a long-winded, unnecessary vacation, I thought. I cried for days and endured red, puffy eyes and a tear streaked face. I couldn’t look past the painfully true fact my own dad was leaving and I wouldn’t be seeing him until he came back… which could turn out to be a very long time or could turn out to just be short term. With my way to over think things like help of seeing the movie The Perfect Storm before he voyaged across the big blue, I assumed he wouldn’t be back for quite some time.

One Sunday, the day of the week my separated parents settled on for my dad’s custody time, I was guessing the name he had painted in burgundy letters to match the sails across the back of the boat.

“Daddy! I can’t guess anymore! What did you name the boat?”

I planned in my head something along the lines of my name.

“…Brigadoon. I named her Brigadoon.”

“Oh, well… that’s a… that’s a pretty name, Daddy. Where did you find a pretty name like that?” I bluffed.

I was so disapointed. Call it selfish, but you have to remember how much I thought about things way ahead of time. I could see him explaining to fellow mariners across the world how awesome his daughter was when they inquired about the name Jordan on the back of his boat. I could have cared less about its significance to him.

When my dad was two months into his trip and had familliarized himself with all the Cays of the Bahamas, it was time for me to come visit him. Two weeks later, I was running through the three-gated Nassau airport into the stronger, tanner arms of my sailor dad.

Forehead and nose pressed into the glass, I stared in awe at the beauty of the island. Palm trees swayed and rocked to the perfect temperatured island breeze as tall cruise ships pulled into port. The locals played kricket and rugby beneath a slightly torn “Conch Fritter’s” billboard- a Bahamian delicacy that sounds repulsive but turned out to be the most delicious food I have ever tasted. When my dad told me to wait until we left Nassau to see even more gorgeous things, I had no clue it could only get better.

As we cruised at a mere four miles per hour, dolphins with skin like a calm color on a mood ring, dazzling and sparkling in the 88 degree February sun, performed for us as we intently watched and smiled. Nothing else in the world was more beautiful than being a part of this setting that seemed to be just an exotic post card. That night, I was rocked to sleep by the tiny waves that gently tossed the boat back and forth like cradle.

The next morning when I woke, I stumbled up the stairs leading to salty air and my dad with a cup of cowboy coffee. Coffee in his hand and astronaut milk in mine, we watched the sunrise peek over the light blue waters of the Exuma Cay and dance along the indentions and waves of the perfect sea.

Fishing for food, pinning clothes to the line, swimming or sailing to get from one place to another, no television, no internet, no cell phone service, diving for exotic lobster, crunching on the sand that felt like non-clump kitty liter. It was truly paradise. They don’t call it that just for names. Once my dad guided me through the beauty that seemed so artifical, and revealed to me that it was more than just blue skies, unreal sunsets, and water a color Lowe’s paint center would spend years trying to match he didn’t have to tell me that was his life long dream. He told me that I can do Absolutely anything if I put my mind to it. He didn’t have to tell me he was tired of seeing people he loved become engulfed in the materialistc ways of the world. He told me to be who I am, and not someone I want to be. Most importantly, my dad showed me, not through speech, but my actions, that if in order to chase my dreams, I throw all my worldly things away, that doesn’t make you poor or even crazy. The worldly things are replaced by what has been given to us and by that alone makes us richer than than all the kings of the world.

My dad’s dream trip started the beginning of my new understanding: life isn’t about jammed schedules and big houses, or fancy cars and how much money you have in the bank, or where you’re from and who your daddy is. It’s about going out there and fighting for what you believe in even if it means leaving what seems to be “it all” behind. So there you have it. I believe in leaving it all behind if that’s what it takes to reach your dreams.