Time on the Water
(In Four Hundred Words or Less)
When I was growing up in Alabama, the beginning of the new school year was a bad time. It meant the end of summer, which is my season. I packed away my shorts and T-shirts, put on socks, shoes, and my parochial--school uniform, and dragged my ass to class. To make matters worse, the first thing the nuns would make us all do on the first day back was to write about what we had done that summer. Having to recall it all while sitting in the antiseptic atmosphere of a classroom was like staring at the goodies in a bakery window with no money in your pocket. However, the bright side to the ordeal was that it reminded me of what lay ahead the next summer, and I carried those longings through the winter and spring until the last bell of the school year rang and I charged back to the beach. I don't know why the idea of trying to put fifty years of living into the same format occurred to me, but it did, and since I am way too familiar with the format, here it is. In four hundred words or less, this is what has happened from early adolescence until now.
I broke out of the grip of Catholicism and made it through adolescence without killing myself in a car. I flunked out of college. I learned to play the guitar, lived on the beach, lived in the French Quarter, finally got laid, and didn't go to Vietnam. I got back into school, started a band, got a job on Bourbon Street, graduated from college, flunked my draft physical, broke up my band, and went out on the road solo. I signed a record deal, got married, moved to Nashville, had my guitars stolen, bought a Mercedes, worked at Billboard magazine, put out my first album, went broke, met Jerry Jeff Walker, wrecked the Mercedes, got divorced, and moved to Key West. I sang and worked on a fishing boat, went totally crazy, did a lot of dope, met the right girl, made another record, had a hit, bought a boat, and sailed away to the Caribbean.
I started another band, worked the road, had my second and last hit, bought a house in Aspen, started spending summers in New England, got married, broke my leg three times in one year, had a baby girl, made more records, bought a bigger boat, and sailed away to St. Barts.
I got separated from the right girl, sold the boat, sold the house in Aspen, moved back to Key West, worked the road, and made more records. I rented an apartment in Paris, went to Brazil for Carnival, learned to fly, went into therapy, quit doing dope, bought my first seaplane, flew all over the Caribbean, almost got a second divorce, moved to Malibu for more therapy, and got back with the right girl.
I worked the road, moved back to Nashville, took off in an F-14 from an aircraft carrier, bought a summer home on Long Island, had another baby girl. I found the perfect seaplane and moved back to Florida. Cameron Marley joined me in the house of women. I built a home on Long Island, crashed the perfect seaplane in Nantucket, lived through it thanks to Navy training, tried to slow down a little, woke up one morning and I was looking at fifty, trying to figure out what comes next.
That might be all some of you want to hear, but for those who want to read a little more, continue on, for though I got most of it all into four hundred words, there is a lot more meat on the bone.
Time on the Water
We sailed from the port of indecision
Young and wild with oh so much to learn
The days turned into years
As we tried to fool our fears
But to the port of indecision I returned
--"Under the Lone Palm"
Use of this excerpt from A Pirate Looks at Fifty by Jimmy Buffett may be made only for purposes of promoting the book, with no changes, editing, or additions whatsoever, and must be accompanied by the following copyright notice: Copyright© 1998 by Jimmy Buffett. All rights reserved.
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No Man's Land
by Simon Tolkien
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