There have been many ways I have thought about starting this sentence. I’ve started in so many ways and in different places, scenarios, maybe at the start- maybe at the end. But I had always had in my mind to start in the middle.
I’m on another boat- a French boat called Malin. I’m in bed, the sunlight shining through the hatch above my head. I stretch, my limbs free with the amount of room I have. Something stirs next to me and I look to my left.
What on earth, Lizbef? I hear you say. Hey- I thought the same thing every single day since I met this person. Maybe I should start at the beginning after all. Here goes.
Our passage was perfect from St Helena. The rolls were terrible but luckily Lisa and I escaped the dreaded sea sickness and was able to carry on as normal. The air became warmer every day, a sense of peace settling upon us all that normally comes with leaving a place. We had made some wonderful friends in St Helena and I was sad to see them go.
“Now you know how I feel,” Brady said to me, a sad smile on his face. It was a simple sentence, but I knew it spoke volumes. How many people had he left behind? How many people had he made a connection with only to need to leave the next day, watching their shape become smaller and smaller on the horizon, until they became nothing, not even a speck, the memory of their friendship being the only thing left.
For him to start all over again.
But something has changed.
He has Alex now.
Brady met a spirit so alike his own that they are fused in some incredible way. Alex is one of the most kind natured and free spirits I have met. She has a pure wanderlust heart that meets Mr Brady’s, and she has the fiery belief in herself. She has no doubt of who she is. She has no reservations about where she is going, about her path and least of all about what anyone thinks of her.
She is perfect for Brady in more than just one way.
And I’m glad that Brady isn’t lonely anymore. I know maybe he will say that he’s never lonely as long as he has Karin and Brian. But it’s different. I want him to wake up to someone that adores him each day. I want him to have someone there he can talk to anything about. I want him to feel loved, cherished and most of all supported. I want him to wake up to someone in the morning who will just be happy to be there with him.
And I want the same for Alex.
To see them both finding this together makes my heart feel so full.
Which is why there is such a deep feeling of happiness, love and peace on this boat at the moment. I adore seeing people in love. Seeing the expression in their eyes.
It makes me happy.
I had spent a lot of time thinking during passage of what I wanted. I would see Brian and Karin together and Brady and Alex. They would have such a special bond with one another, laughing, joking and then having each other to wake up to.
I had felt lonely for a long time. Nights spent alone and waking up alone. I know that I needed this time. It had been well over a year since my last relationship and I needed the solitude. I needed to recover, to heal and to learn more about myself. But now I’m incredibly happy. I knew I was ready for something. For someone maybe.
It was during night watch when I asked the Universe to provide.
I’m ready, I sent out. I’m so ready.
I was incredibly excited to arrive in Ascension. I don’t know why, it just felt important to me for some reason. We arrived at 10pm at night and celebrated with a couple of shots of Aquavit.
“Come on Lizbef!” Brian said, chinking his glass with mine.
I had been hoping for a glass of champagne, but who was I to complain to my captain encouraging me to drink?
I downed the shot for it to burn my insides without mercy. I coughed and then all of a sudden thought I was going to throw it back up. But Brian was already pouring the next shot.
“Please- a little one, mate,” I said.
But Brian had no sympathy- and poured me a regular.
Everyone cheered and downed their second shots, spluttering, coughing, laughing and congratulating each other on the passage.
I can’t explain the happiness that was bursting in my heart. At that moment I knew I was exactly where I was supposed to be. I was always supposed to come to Ascension. Just like how I felt with St Helena.
But this time it felt different for some reason.
The next morning, I crept out to check out the horizon. Alex and Karin were awake, settling on making tea and breakfast as I grabbed the camera and stepped outside.
I feel even emotional just talking about this moment. But I sat there, just speaking into the camera and trying to explain how I felt in that moment. I had suddenly realised something.
I liked myself.
You know how long this journey has taken me. You know of the trials I’ve faced and the healing of my soul that has taken place since the beginning of this journey.
But it’s now true.
I actually really fucking like myself.
I started to cry as I spoke into the camera, realising this, realising how happy I felt, realising that I was always supposed to be here, to evolve, to grow and to become the Lizbef I always wanted to be.
This is it, this is it, this is it! I thought, sitting on the bow, my legs hanging over the side as I couldn’t stop the tears from falling. I wanted to split myself in two people in that moment and hug myself, saying: “See? You made it! You did so well! I’m so proud of you!”
We walked through the small island and explored for a short while, finding out firstly where we could get internet, get cash out and go for a run or two.
I decided to go with Mr Brady to get some more money out so I could buy whoever a drink. We had heard that there were a couple of good bars in the area that the locals went to, and I was keen to try them. I had an energy under my skin that I needed to find some way to getting out.
Whilst the rest of the group wandered about, Brady and I stood in a booth to withdraw money. I sat in the corner, my eyes wandering outside of the window as I daydreamed.
My interest was piqued immediately.
Three men were walking around, two older gentlemen and a younger man of about our age. No shoes, long hair tied up scruffily on his head and torn shorts with a Polynesian tattoo on his right arm.
I sat up in my seat. “Brady!” I hissed.
“There’s a boy!”
I’m not even sorry to admit it, but I stared, my eyes following them until I became too shy and settled back in my seat to the chorus of Brady’s laughter.
“Go say hi!” Brady encouraged me.
“I’m not going to do that,” I mumbled. “I’ll look crazy just following them out…”
Then they were gone, and it was too late. My mind told me I would never see that stranger again.
Leaving the bank, we ended up at a place called The Anchor- a pub connected to The Obsidian Hotel. Whilst we sat there enjoying a drink or two, we ordered food and started to talk about what Alex would like to do for her birthday the next day.
Eventually everyone had settled into a good working mode, but Alex and I were done with internet. I stared at her as she swirled the last of her drink in her hand and stood up.
“Hey, Alex? I’m going to go for a wander, want to join?”
She smiled instantly. “Yeah!”
I don’t know why I’m always surprised when she says yes, because she always does. She is always up for having an adventure. Someone told me:
“If you say yes to everything then good things will come, as well as bad things. But opportunities and adventures will follow. If you say no to everything then, nothing good or bad will happen to you. You will learn nothing.”
We poured the rest of my drink into a plastic bottle to share as we ran off on a new little adventure. Two women free on a new island- and where did we first go?
“Look! There’s a park!” Alex said excitedly.
We ran and played on a giant swing, talking about life, adventures, love and the future. We spoke about growing as a person and how we felt inside. We spoke about a lot.
“I’m so glad I’m spending time with you,” I said to Alex. On the boat we spend 24/7 with one another, but it’s very rare when we have one-on-one time. So it was nice to feel as though I could invest my wholehearted attention on just one friendship for a while.
“Me too,” she said grinning. “Shall we go to the bar?”
“It’s your birthday weekend,” I replied. “Let’s do this!”
We bought several double rums at a bar called Saints and bought some cigarettes. I’m sorry to those who don’t like smoking- I don’t think anyone does. Just understand that I’m on a high, on an adventure and I’ll behave myself one day.
“Let’s go to the Volcano Bar,” I said eagerly. “We can just hitchhike.”
We had learned it was about a 20 minute walk but the sun was beaming and we knew with or without a ride we would have a great time.
We bumped into the rest of the crew just as we were about to take the turn onto the road that would lead us to tequila, beer, cider and dancing. We halted and all of a sudden, my dreams of a party with Alex ended, sure that we would have to go back to the boat.
“Nah, mate- just go for it,” Brady said. “Go and have a good time! Oh by the way- we bumped into that guy you liked.”
“Wha?” I stared at him surprised.
“Yeah! He’s really nice,” Karin said. “He’s on the French boat next to us!”
After a chorus of mild teasing, grins and me blushing a few shades of red, Brady continued to encourage us to go and party.
“Yeah,” he shrugged. “Maybe we’ll see you later.”
Alex and I didn’t waste much time in sorting out the details how we would get back to Delos or how we would communicate, we just skipped excitedly down the path, laughing at how we thought and had feared our spontaneous adventure was over.
Five minutes of walking and listening to music from my phone, dancing in the road and we managed to stop a van.
“Hey!” I greeted, coming around to the driver’s side. “Do you know how far the Volcano Bar is?” This was a ploy of course. It was my opener to ask for a lift.
It was an American older man with long grey hair tied back into a ponytail. “It’ll take you…” He spoke further and I nodded in understanding.
“Wow,” I replied and fixed my best smile. “Do you think it’ll be ok if we could just hop in with you?”
He fumbled with the amount of stuff on his seats and nodded. “Yeah, sure!”
“Alex! We’ve got a lift!”
We piled in, our happiness soaring as he spoke about the island and the American military base we were heading to. We wanted to celebrate in good old American style for Alex’s birthday and give her a taste of home.
After thanking Drew, our driver, we walked through into the bar and convinced two workers in the Deli area to give us a couple of ciders whilst they were still closed. By the time we had bought them and listened to the guy behind the till sing us a rendition of Westlife, the bar was finally open.
“Oh, damn!” Alex breathed, her eyes glued to the big television screen showing a game of baseball. “Man, I’m so happy!”
We ordered a shot of rum each and two more bottles of cider as we set about having a game of pool that was to take us three hours to never complete. Each person that came in was a new friend, greeting us and sharing our stories with one another.
We drank more, we laughed more and hugged. This was a special time- I knew it was. This was my time with Alex, this American girl as we were suddenly no longer two crew members.
I was a girl from Warwickshire, and she was a girl from California. Just two normal people trying to learn more about each other spiritually and of course in a good old party mode.
More people came and we were soon on our way to Drunken Sailor mode.
I turned around in that moment then and saw Brady.
“Don’t worry mate!” he said, giving Alex a hug. “This is still your girls’ night!”
I peered around and saw where he was sitting with Brian and-
The guy who I had seen earlier in the day.
“We brought him for you,” Brady teased with a wink. “His name’s Edouard- he’s a really cool guy.”
I swallowed and told myself not to get so flustered. But I really wanted to talk to this guy.
But this was girl’s night- I was going to give Alex all of my attention. I swallowed it down and after giving Brian a hug hello, went outside to make more new friends and of course have another shot of rum with Alex.
It was maybe an hour later where the boys joined us outside.
I was talking to some people from England and then saw Edouard sitting on his own whilst Brady and Alex exchanged some love felt teasing.
You have nothing to lose, I thought, standing up and sitting in front of him. “Hi!” I said, holding out my hand. “I’m Elizabeth.”
He shook my hand with a smile and that was it.
I was hooked. Dark eyes, tanned skin, a dark beard and curly hair tied back, he sat there opposite me in a green t shirt. I don’t know what made him so handsome to me. But maybe I would say it was from the goodness in his eyes.
I just knew there and then that I was speaking to such a raw spirit. There was a goodness that radiated from him in waves. A freeness. It filled the air around me and demanded I paid attention.
I tried my best to speak French, and he laughed, helping me with pronunciation and encouraging me when I got words right. An hour passed of talking.
“Hey,” I said casually. “Do you fancy a shot?”
He nodded. “But of course!”
After a shot, some drinks, we returned outside. We talked for hours. The rain started to patter down in the darkness and we sat under an umbrella on a bench as we talked further.
We were quiet for a moment. I hadn’t felt that content to talk to a person like that in my entire life. I felt as though there had been a switch inside me that had just been turned on. My heart had thawed out that little bit more. My blood had started to pump a little bit harder and the drinks had made me braver.
I leaned forward and kissed him.
Anything you could have hoped from a first kiss moment happened.
This is perfect. This is perfect. This is perfect.
The night commenced with us being unable to keep our hands from each other as we continued to laugh, joke and talk with the rest of the group.
I was connected suddenly to another human being, my nerve endings sparking with a new life.
The night was drawing to a close and everyone had decided that they loved Edouard.
“Hey man,” Brian said, “Do you want to come back to Delos?”
Edouard looked at me, but I was grinning in return. He smiled and then nodded. “Yes of course!”
We stopped off for a few more drinks at a bar called Saints and then walked to the docks where Maggie was waiting for us. I held his hand along the ride, feeling the spray of the ocean dampening the skin on my arms and legs as we neared our home, the light shining ahead as a beacon.
“Here I am!” Delos seemed to call. “Here I am!”
We boarded the boat and Edouard was immediately fascinated. “Wow!” he exclaimed. “You have so much room!”
Edouard explained to us that the sailing boat he was on was small inside, but beautiful. He spoke of such love for Malin and told us that pretty much everything was manual. There was no GPS, no weather forecast- they sailed using the stars and a sexton to know where they were.
“We don’t have a toilet either,” he said. “Not one that works.”
“So where do you go then?” I asked.
He laughed, a sound that made me immediately smile. “We hang off the back of the boat! It’s incredible!”
He had such enthusiasm for everything he said, saw and did. It was infectious.
We woke up Lisa unfortunately.
“Lisa!” I hissed.
“I’ve brought a boy back!”
“What do I do?”
But she was so bemused and startled by our return- (and by Brian giving her a big drunken hug) that she just blinked at us blearily and lay in the bed, surrendering herself to the onslaught of excited voices and more people hugging her.
“Yes, yes,” she said. “I love you too.”
The party then went to Mr Brady’s room. All five of us squeezed in and started to sing and play the guitar. It was such an amazing moment as we cackled, joked and drunkenly told each other how much we loved each other.
The night was coming to an end.
Soon it was just me and Edouard as we retired to the lounge where I slept.
And as he wrapped me in his embrace, I thanked the Universe a thousand times for bringing him to me. For bringing me someone so good. So full of wonder for the world. An adventurer.
Someone who made me feel so alive.
Thank you, thank you, thank you.