There’s a Hole in this Rock

Our boat doesn’t leave until 1 PM. This means we get to relax in Paihia for the first half of the day, indulging in the Movenpick ice cream stand, seagulls, and ocean wind.

We agree that we love the ocean wind, even if my ex isn’t a fan of sand.

But God, really, what is wrong with him? This sand is so soft.

Maybe there’s something wrong with me.

• • •

Out on the port, the rainy season is kicking in, but this doesn’t stop the ship’s departure.

My ex starts singing the Gilligan’s Island theme as we embark into the choppy waters. I sing along. We are so fucking off-key. We laugh.

The boat is no laughing matter, though—easily as large as the Catalina Flyer, and other dolphin and whale cruises at home—and the sea is perilous, rocking our mighty vessel. It’s an Indiana Jones adventure, and I’m slip-sliding outside without adventuring boots. I grab onto a pole and yank myself inside.

I tell my ex that I need a hat.

In our younger years, he would’ve fashioned a hat, maybe out of a jacket, or out of trash we found on the ground. But now instead, we’re inside, where it’s safe. I don’t remember when we decided life should be safe.

We try to do that thing where you take a picture by smashing your faces together in front of a camera. Instead of feeling lightning in his cheek, it is clammy. He plays with his phone for a long time while I stare absentmindedly out windows.

• • •

After an hour on the boat, we come upon a pod of dolphins swimming with people in wetsuits. They’re surfacing frequently—dolphins and people alike—but there are no leaps of faith from either of them, out of the water.

Once, we tried to get our scuba license, but my ex couldn’t finish the last class, and I picked a fight with our instructor over the water visibility. “He’s vomiting,” I said, “because this water is disgusting.” Something-something after This is the visibility you’d normally experience, I retorted, “I’d never scuba in toilet water—”

And now we’re uncertified.

Maybe I should try that again without feeling like I need to defend my partner. I couldn’t help it, though. When the poor man started vomiting, I turned into a peacock, brandishing my temper the way I might wield a feathered baton. I didn’t even know I had a white knight in me—but then, love brings virtue just as much as pain.

I remember, when I asked my ex if yelling at the instructor was the right call, he laughed and hurled simultaneously. Then he pointed beyond, at the world, with his middle finger.

• • •

A massive island, carved of wave-wrought stone, protrudes from the frothy blue. The ocean has carved a tunnel in the rock as wide as this formidable boat, but the angry currents deter our captain from sailing through the opening.

Hole in the Rock, indeed.

We admire the majesty of the natural structure, cameras in salt-wetted hands.

Next Chapter.

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