Essay : My husband's addiction
My husband has a DVD called "Stripers Gone Wild." If you weren't familiar with fishing on the Vineyard, you might think that is a typo. It isn't. "Stripers Gone Wild" is like "best of" fishing porn. It follows the trail of the stripers along the East Coast, and includes stops at Gay Head, Wasque Point, and the island of Cuttyhunk.
When my husband and I met over twenty years ago, I knew he was an outdoorsman. He will spend half a day clawing up a mountain to ski down in thirty minutes, and bike over terrain that intimidates mountain goats. I also knew he liked to fish the Vineyard. Now I realize that is like saying Bernie Madoff was overdrawn.
I remember the first Memorial Day weekend I joined him on the Vineyard. I had taken the redeye from L.A. and a few hours later was waist deep in a place called Tashmoo, negotiating a bright pink pipe cleaner at the end of a fly rod. He'd bought me waders and boots.
At the time, I remember thinking that was sweet and nothing to be alarmed about. I was exhausted but did my best to interest the fish in my pipe cleaners, which were supposed to mimic the seasonal worm hatch, but I kept losing them to the tide and the bottom and my general lack of ability. This was my first experience with a "worm hatch," and I had no idea how exciting a worm hatch is.
Sunset came and went, and finally I suggested we eat dinner. I was dying to sample one of the Island restaurants That was the first time I heard my husband utter those three words that would become the foundation of our relationship: "One more cast."
The next day I was introduced to two important people in my husband's life: Coop and Larry, as in Coop's tackle shop and Larry's tackle shop. Then he showed me the Island, from Oak Bluffs to the Gay Head Cliffs. We had romantic walks and talks - at big bridge, the herring run, and my favorite - Memorial Wharf in Edgartown Harbor, where we jigged for squid until midnight, when I finally admitted I wasn't having fun.
It's not like I was jealous of his fishing. I had my own hobby: horses. For most of my life my hobby had been supported by other people's horses, but now I was an adult with a good job and no dependents and my disposable income went to the local barn. My husband was about as interested in horses as I was in fish, but he didn't even pretend to care about Gogo, my leased thoroughbred, when he visited California. But then, I hadn't bought him any britches or boots, either.
We were dating long distance, and it became a game of Who Was Going to Move, although we both knew and pretended we didn't that it was going to be me. Fishing isn't the same in L.A. If you've been there, you know what I mean. To my husband it was one big, "parking lot beach."
To close the deal, he took me to Patagonia for a week of fly fishing and camping on horseback. The horseback riding was limited to the daylight, and to the fact that horses actually have to stop to eat, rest and pee. The fish had no such limitations. He would set me up at daybreak along a stretch of river with my boots and waders and say, "Here's a wooly booger. I'm just going to fish that pool over there for a while. Call if you need me."
When I think back to those moments I wonder why I didn't spend that time writing my novel.