A ship will come

Katrin Deibert
19.01.2014
 
A ship will come
“Yearning doesn't exist any more. Or if it does, then it is in danger of extinction like the lousy polar bear or the beaded lizard. That became clear to me last summer. I was travelling with my parents to an island in Greece. So awesome: there wasn't any airport. We had to spend hours on a boat from Athens to get there. It was at least 35° and my father dragged us all over the ship until we finally found the “best place”. As we navigated out of the harbour into open sea, or sailed as they call driving a boat, the wind nearly blew us away and we had to search for a new “best place”. After six hours we finally arrived in Naxos. Impressive. Not the sitting around on a barge, but this kind of travel, slow and somehow noble. On the island, I roamed along the beach alone, came to a mouth of a river that had dug a broad lane into the beach. The brackish water glittered like copper and smelled nearly foul, but I discovered that I could run up the river. Soon the water turned cool and clear; there were turtles and frogs. I waded until I came to a place on the sandy shore where no grass grew, or where there was a stone. Then I squatted down comfortably, if possible so that my legs did not fall asleep right away, and tried to keep still. It is really amazing how much the nose itches when you're not allowed to scratch it. Then I tried to reach a state of absent-minded thoughtlessness in which I did not disturb the animals. Once, as the sun shone on my foot and it got very hot, a small turtle came stomping along. Very determined, with a grim expression on her face, the little feet marching heavily, she climbed up on my instep, turned her neck towards the sun and abandoned herself to her thoughts, just like me. I felt like Dr Doolittle or Francis from Assisi. Not like a school girl who is constantly being told off for not keeping still.
I often went to the harbour. The pier was not large and there never came many ships in at the same time. I liked to sit on the metal poles near the sea. Often I saw how people waiting on the pier were talking on their cell phones with their darlings, or getting text messages before the ship was in sight, or chatting with each other on their phones until they could embrace each other. I found that utterly stupid.
If I were in their place and was waiting for someone whom I really loved, then I would not want to know exactly if he was on the ship and I would search anxiously for him as soon as I could make out the outlines of people on the deck. He would need to stand out there and wish that I was there standing and hoping to meet him. Then we would recognize each other and wave like crazy. When he came off the boat, then I would nearly run him over. Does that work over cell phone? Could the feeling ever be the same if the first text message from Piraeus arrived: 'Getting on the boat, be there in six hours!' Would I be able to wait like my ideal of waiting? Earlier I was not so sure, but now I have understood that yearning has disappeared from most of our lives. We have exchanged that special emotion of yearning for disappointment. It's a thoroughly cracked deal. I stood there and was convinced that the emotions have disappeared from the world because modern technology has made them imperceptible to us. Can someone say that? Regardless, you know what I mean. I stood around and the first trucks began to drive by me into the storage bay of the ferry.
I felt sad, because of this thing with yearning, and waited to see the ship sail off. A man was being accompanied by his friends to the ferry, his face looked British. He was grown up, at least fifteen years older than me and looked even older, but at the same time like a child. His friends hugged him, his face seemed empty, grey from sorrows. Maybe someone had died or his things had been stolen. His friends gave him money and cigarettes to cheer him up. He had only one suitcase with him and he got on at the last minute. The ship was about to set off when suddenly a small white car at breakneck speed drove out on the pier. The harbour master, a guy in a white uniform, stood in the way of the car, slapped on the hood and began to blow fiercely on his whistle. I had seen this before. Shortly before departure they always want to close access to the pier until the ship is off. But this car did not stop, rather a woman jumped out. She was very tall and wore a long dress of turquoise cloth with colourful printings. She had dyed dark blond hair and a nose that you could cut a pickle with. Her eyes pierced the poor guy in the white uniform and she shot out something in Greek that sounded really nasty. He backed up a step and mumbled to himself. The woman stepped towards the ship and looked up towards the railing. Yes, the Englishman appeared. He looked down to her and still looked awful. I liked how they were not crying out at all. As she stood there, so straight and at least 1,80 metres tall, I had the feeling that she was offering him to stay.
The ferry let out its monster horn: last call.
The ship was already a few meters away from the pier. The woman and the man still stood like statues. Then he began to climb over the railing. I thought, no, it's too high. He swung a leg over the railing.
An unbelievable commotion broke out. The policeman kept blowing on his whistle, I heard voices over the loudspeakers, over the short wave radio, but it was all in vain. He looked at her and jumped into the water. She screamed once briefly, a raw sound full of fear. A whole crowd, including me, ran over and looked down into the water of the harbour. Anxious shouts, a harbour worker started to take off his shoes. But then he came to the surface, I noticed that I had forgotten to breath and simultaneously with him I breathed in deeply. He ignored all of the clamour around him, the guy in the white uniform really screamed at him and pulled on his sleeve, but he went dripping over to her, they got in the car and drove off.
Presumably I will turn into a frustrated bitch who will live alone or become funny in some way. Because anything less is not worth it. Whomever loves me has to yearn for me, has to jump in the water, the whole program. This silly, soft mediocre feeling of disappointment, I don't want that. For me there is only love or hate. Since this experience, I stand always a little straighter and when I cross my eyes a little and look down, my nose seems much thinner.”
 
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