You can generally see the mainland from my study. That doesn't mean I harbor any dreams of going there. It paints a pretty picture on the horizon, and sure, many people have purchased tickets for the ferry that leaves every morning and comes back every evening. There are more sailboats docked on our island than there are people, but that doesn't mean I dream of being on board one of them. I was born here on the island and I intend to die here. It is simple here. It is far removed from the complications the mainland represents. I watch the television. I know what happens on the mainland.
My name is Crockett Lapinska, and I am a fourth generation islander. My father was a fisherman and my grandfather died with a full head of hair. He never left the island, which is why he lived to be ninety-seven while keeping his crest of delightfully wild hair until the end. My great-grandfather was one of the first to build a home on the island, and that house is where I live now. Progress tries to leave the island alone. There have been times where I have engaged in swordfights with progress. Very rarely do I lose. This I attribute to staying on the island and building a symbiotic relationship with it.
For that reason I have frequently not been on boats.
There is always motion in the ocean, in the bays and inlets of our little slice of paradise. Ever since mankind first gazed upon the seas he sought a way to conquer them. In times of quiet reflection I find myself believing that the oceans were placed there for a reason. They were meant to be a dividing line between what we are and what we wish we could be. The magnificence of the seas has been documented in literature over the centuries and most of those who have written about her reek of an obsession to conquer and tame her. I sit here behind the picture window of my study and admire her beauty. She has created this island I call my own, and for that I am eternally grateful. Had she chosen instead to swallow this piece of magical soil I would instead be riding street cars in the city, hawking newspapers or shining shoes. Instead, I am master of my own fate, held warmly in her arms and embraced by the gift she has given to me.
My father often asked me to accompany him on his fishing trips and I always declined. Several times I attempted to join him, going so far as to pack my gear and stand beside him on the docks. Yet something always made me stop and hold onto the land. Frequently I had the opportunity, but frequently I refused such opportunity, as I always understood my place in the context of these things.
Ten years ago this month there was a mighty storm. It was a hurricane of great destructive force and they told me it was headed directly for the island. It was the closest I have ever come to being on boats, but then I saw a sign. The sign told me the storm would not disturb the tranquility of the island. I saw this sign in the calm eyes of the creatures who dwell here. They were not afraid and so I chose to stand with them. The storm changed course, leaving my island drenched with rain and wind, but completely undamaged. Since then I pay little attention to such threats of nature, for they cannot drive me from the place and onto the deck of those boats I have frequently not been on.
When the skies are clear it is easy to see the mainland from almost anywhere on the island. It is so close that often you can make out the movements of people and cars on the paved roads that have enslaved the mainland. The motorized boats which come to my island bringing people an afternoon of pleasure have only minutes to travel in order to arrive here. Not long after nightfall they all depart and leave us to our eternal blessings. We neither encourage nor discourage such visits, as our island is the eye of the storm that brings the winds of change. Things may change here, but often so slowly that they appear to remain the same. I have accepted that, just as most everyone around me has accepted that I've frequently not been on boats.