I’ll tell you the whole story. You see: the year before I started at college I was just hanging home around for the summer. But my moms were both working all the time, so I was hanging out with friends at the local café to stave off boredom, and some of them invited me to come stay with them. Naturally, I took them up on it, as I’ve learned never to refuse an obvious adventure. I settled in at their communal house— I guess it was a hippie house, but the hippest hippies.
One day my friend Angela told me she was milking a cow and a goat at Windy Mountain Farm and would I like to come along? So I started milking the cow and the goat with her every day, and learning how to make milk and cheese and yogurt. Milking days were always magical— incredible coincidences and synchronicity always happened on those days.
So after the second or third milking session, we’re in the backyard with our little baskets, picking blackberries, and I turn to my right, and I see a blond boy with a swoop of hair over one eye standing next to an eleven and a half foot upside down boat on a saw horse, and I immediately knew that he had built the boat. And I recognized that he was put there so I could see him. Like we had something to do together— have you ever had that feeling?
So I said ‘Hello, is that your boat?’ My friend Angela turned to me, knowing that I’m weaving some magic. (She has always recognized my magic and sometimes I teach her my ways so she can navigate with a little bit of it.)
I got up and walked really close to him to ask if he built it, and he said ‘you look really familiar,’ and I said ‘Where are you taking that boat?’ and he said ‘New York City’ and I said ‘Great! I’m coming.’ He looked confused and I said ‘What do I need to bring?’
‘Um, a sleeping bag?’
It was out of his choice to say no, really. It was all pre-determined. I said ‘I don’t have a sleeping bag in Vermont,’ and he said ‘I’ll have my mom send you one!’ So I said ‘When are we leaving?’ And he said ‘two weeks.’
So I said ‘well great— I’ll leave you notes at your boat, and you can find me in two weeks.’
(For an adventure such as this, I find that once you exchange technological information, the magic is dead.)
A week goes by, and I get a call from my friend Sophie, who says, ‘there’s a love note for you on my porch.’ It was a white piece of paper covered in rocks (there was strawberry jam smeared all over it) to keep it down and it said:
Vera: let’s go sailing. signed, the boat kid.
Inside the note it says ‘your beautiful,’ (no e) but that part was scratched out and there was another note that pointed to that and said ‘pay no attention to this.’ Maybe that part was to another girl? I don’t know, maybe he only had one piece of paper, since he lived on a boat.
I told him we were going to need lifejackets, and a white, red and green light. I made a list of supplies he needed, as I had been doing some research.
It would be a ten-day journey.
I wrote everything down in my journal as we went. Every night we would pull the boat ashore, put it on land, and make a campsite. Then he would go and gather mushrooms when we camped.
It was a platonic journey, but one of real love. I told him not to fall in love in with me, but I knew he would anyway— this happens a lot to me.
I brought a list of songs to sing, and he cooked us amazing delicacies every day— salad with goat cheese and figs the first night, cinnamon buns over the fire on cold mornings.
When you enter the lock routes on this particular river, you need to pay the lock masters to let you through. We had no real money with us, but I knew people would welcome us, because we were doing something beautiful and pure. I brought cookies for the lock masters, who would happily open the locks for us— as though no one had ever brought them treats before! They were completely bowled over by these cookies, which really tells you something about people in general. We’d be holding onto the ropes as the water went up and down, like whirlpools, when they let us through.
Once on the full moon, we took a bath on the river. We lost the soap pot on the current and sadly had to let it go, but then the next morning as we were sailing down river, it suddenly appeared next to our boat. So that’s why I named my first album SOAP POT.
Did Harry tell you I sing?
One day we encountered a huge bridge near New Jersey— we were reaching the end of our trip and needed to maneuver beneath this bridge. He tried maybe fifteen times to tack us back and forth through the bridge, but he was unable to. The wind was too strong and we were close to capsizing the whole time. So I took the jib and the main sail, which I hadn’t done the whole trip, because it was just assumed he was the better sailor, as he had built the boat.
But I got us under the bridge in one try. Which I suppose was the natural ending to the trip— it felt like it was over once I realized I was a better sailor than him. He knew it too. The magic seal was broken.
And right after we went under that bridge, we pulled into a dock that apparently was a private club, which was having its annual barbecue. It turned out the fellow who picked us up at the club was Bon Jovi’s sound engineer, so he let me record my album at his home studio the next afternoon.
I learned two important things from that trip—1. I thought I couldn’t do this kind of trip on my own, that I wasn’t a good enough sailor. But I was. I could have done it two years prior!
The second and most important thing— and which answers your question— I learned from a fortune teller in Penn Station on my way home. She told me the next boy I fell in love with I would have a love child with, so I should choose wisely.
And I knew that would be ok, because I am strong enough to sail the Hudson River alone.