When I was 19 and commercial fishing in Alaska, I fell in love with a girl. For 15-seconds. It was 3am and within the brief window of time when the world actually grows dark during an Alaskan summer--the witching hour. The fog on the slough was thick as we softly motored up country to check the set-net we'd anchored an hour earlier. Suddenly another boat was upon us, coming from the opposite direction. Other than dim lights above captain's consoles, nothing was visible in the fog until we were within a stones throw from each other. A girl my age, equally bundled up in thick wadders and rain jacket, sat in the same respective position on her boat. As we approached, my captain cut the engine as did the bearded man motoring the other boat. The world really was silent then. Only water lapping against aluminum.
"Morning," my captain called out to the other boat as we gently drifted to a parallel. "Any luck up there?"
The other captain, clearly a man of brevity, nodded and said, "A bit."
I wasn't interested in this exchange. The girl and I had locked gazes. We observed each other in a way I'd never done before. Unabashed. Curious. Warm. Familiar. I felt there was something different about her eyes. Laughter dancing beneath the surface. But not mocking laughter--I was familiar with how that looked. The night felt charged with energy as a slight smile suddenly added more depth to her face. And then, we drifted past each other, ships in the night.
Later, when I told my crewmates about the exchange, they'd laughed. My captain said, "In Alaska, all women get prettier and prettier the longer you're up here. It's the law of scarcity."
His logic was sound, but not about this encounter. There was something different.
Twenty five years later, I have a good understanding of what's involved in deep-rooted love. It's shared hardship. Vulnerability. Compromise. Showing up, and suiting up even when you don't feel like it. It's shared joy. Shared adventure. Shared change. And navigating lack of change. It's anchoring in spiritual ground together, interweiving energies. It's speaking up. And knowing when to shut up. It's acceptance in many forms. It's romance. It's endurance. It's built. Slowly.
Now, at 45, I chuckle at my brief encounter with the girl. Yet, I still believe in the magic of that ephemeral moment in the fog.