If you think blind life is invisible, think again. Though I lack a view from my balcony, I think visually. In my photography days, I created my world view by my choice of film. Kodachrome shouted red; Ektachrome whispered blue and green. Kodachrome for pizzazz, Ektachrome for serenity. Paul Simon loved his Kodachrome but was inspired by his sweet imagination. These days, imagination is my film of choice.
My balcony fronts the eastern sky and western shoreline. Morning has barely broken when I hear the motorboat idling, fifty yards out, at ten o’clock. The man in the boat calls, “Ready?” and the girl at nine o’clock replies,”Yup!” The throttle powers full ahead. He shouts, “Up…Up…There you go…Good…Good!” The motor roars toward eleven o’clock. “Hey! Hey!” he hollers, gleeful as Jack Brickhouse calling a Cubs homer.” Twelve o’clock. “Oh…Oh…Uh-oh…Oh, my!” The motor throttles down and circles back. He calls, “What happened? Did you let go?” The motor idles. Voices, his and hers, “Honey, you OK? Wow, Daddy, that was fun but that was hard. Honey, grab the rope handle. Daddy, that was fun and I want to do it again. I want to do it again, Daddy!”
Rewind a minute. I see a ten-year old girl bobbing in the water. Brave-faced girl with grimace. Mouse brown hair in a pony tail. Ski tips like shark fins pierce the surface. Now the towrope is taut and her hands rise and now her arms are up and now she’s shedding the water. And she leans forward and now she straightens and now she leans back just enough. And now she’s water skiing for the first time in her life. For the very first time, she’s moving across the water, she’s really moving now. Day-Glo life vest over older brother’s T shirt over jet black tank suit. Bent double like a jackknife, all knobby knees and bony elbows, skinny legs and broomstick arms. Each ski long as she is tall and wider than she is front to back. Now one tip dips into a wave and, BAM! she wipes out and it’s a spill she’ll remember all day and all her life. Now she’s bobbing again and waving to her Daddy and looking like she’s just had the biggest thrill in her life, which she has.
And she glances around at the wall-eyed fishermen hunched over thin poles and fat bobbers and she knows they neither notice nor care what all the fuss is about. And then she spots me standing on the balcony, a balding guy older even than her Daddy. She sees me and thinks she is seen by me. She feels me focus in and knows I share this moment. So she raises one tired, excited arm and she waves to me. And I see that mouse brown hair dipped in blue-reflecting and green eternal water. And I see that bright red smile adorn her sweet face. So I raise one tired old arm and I wave right back to her.