The vista was the lower Hudson in 1972. The photographer was my father, Nick Carreras. And the occasion was a trip out to the Statue of Liberty. All the kids are gone now for a couple of years, and dad and mom can gad about in the City they love, without parental responsibilities. The daughter is wed. At last, the son is out of what looked to be a lifetime of stupid and is at college. Sigh.
At this moment, my father turns and spots this liner heading seaward. It’s always a moment of tension in their relationship. The two are emotionally and almost biologically joined at the hip since they were young teenagers growing up in Manhatten. He will garner no praise from her for the appraising looks cast at the ship. Instead, comments on the lines of a vessel should be re-directed to the sleek lines of his still stunning wife.
It’s an old fight. Probably one that plays out thousands of times a day in seaport cities. He went to sea at seventeen. After world cruises, convoys, and long passages, she insisted that he settle down to parenthood…grow up and become a dad. Mom has her fair complaints: whenever an argument gets terrible, he threatens to “…go looking for a ship”, worse her son has been infected, and eats, sleeps, and breathes things nautical.
You’d think that after all these years, it’d be out of his system, that the love of the ocean would be fully requited and done. He’d had it long enough while she waited in the City for him to return after long voyages.
I don’t make excuses for either of them. It’s the long splice of their lifelong relationship. They knew each other as children, they were teenage sweethearts, and now they are a mature married couple. It’s like a long rolling wave pattern at sea – it starts somewhere over the horizon and sweeps majestically beyond sight.