The original prologue for my NaNoWriMo 2007 story
A Storm for Every Port
There is a saying that for every storm there is a port. Not just any port but a place that acts as a safe haven, a shelter from the world around. A refuge, if you will.
The saying undoubtedly stems from centuries past when the world was “THE WORLD” and somehow much larger and all encompassing than it is today – times when a quick jaunt to Paris or London for the holidays was out of the question and when a single journey across the Atlantic could take six weeks. It was the era of buccaneers and cut throat pirates, clippers ships filled with gold galleons and when wars were won and lost on the open seas. Storms clouds hanging low on the horizon, rumblings of thunder in the distance and the all too real crack of lightning reverberating through the clanging metal masts would cause sailors to head their ships to the nearest port of call in hopes of salvaging not only their cargo and vessel but the lives of their crew as well.
Unlike the ports of call of today, where tourism is without a doubt the most lucrative industry, the original ports of call had little in the form of luxury. A barroom or pub, ladies of the night willing to part with their virtue for some pre-negotiated price and a place to lie your head were all the wearied sailor could expect when taking refuge in one of these coastal towns. Some towns grew and prospered, particularly those along the eastern coast of the United States. New York, Boston, the affluent areas that would later become the Hamptons and Acadia – all original seaport towns that managed to find their place in the annals of history. Others, particularly those in the southern U.S., fell into ruin.
Located at what had to have seemed like good, stable locations where everything and every storm could be neatly accounted for, many of the towns found themselves too far removed. Trade routes were not so easily navigable leaving many would be sailors at the mercy of the wind to lead them to their next port of call. In the Caribbean, any assortments of doom could befall a vessel leaving its cargo and crew at the hands of thieves, convicts and competing trading companies. What was once a sanctuary to those in need became desolate places of existence where no one really chose to reside but lived there out of some bizarre, sometimes seemingly wicked chance of fate. Their picturesque villages and town squares fell into ruin, their pristine white washed cottages turning to a dingy shade of grey with the ever present salt that clings tightly to the rivers of wind as it travels through the inhabitants as if they are non-existent rather than living, breathing souls.
You might wonder about these souls – who they are, what brings them to a desolate place such this or, perhaps more to your interest, why they chose to stay in such a place when the world has indeed become such a small one. They could easily catch a bus, plane, train or any other modern convenient form of transport to another town or country even but something prompts them to stay. Consider it an angel directing your steps if you are religious. Fancy it karma if you are a romantic. However you decide to rationalize the ostensibly idiotic tendency of people to cling to an antiquated past of what might have beens, remember that for every storm for which you receive warning, there is a lifetime of others waiting just over the horizon, patiently awaiting their turn to thunder into your complacent life without warning or pretense. Whether you recognize it or not, for every port, every safe, secure refuge you find, for every physical or emotional sanctuary you claim to have grasped tightly in your hands, there is a storm.