Seven years ago, Aaron and I spent Thanksgiving surrounded by flower-studded hills and taller masts in Falmouth Harbor, Antigua. The night before, we’d met the chef on one of the neighboring megayachts, who informed us that each staff chef in the harbor would be making a turkey the next day in a kind of friendly competition. With our comparatively prospects for a Thanksgiving meal looking comparatively grim, we tried to engineer an invitation to this meal, but were predictably unsuccessful. Instead, we were left to scavenge what could be found stowed among the sawdust beneath our bunks and the pungent mystery of our ice box.
The resulting Frankenstein monster of macaroni & cheese spangled with tinned turkey echoes unpleasantly on my palate to this day.
Ill-advised as it was, I remember that meal less for its abhorrence and more for the moment it marked; Aaron and I were on our own, away from the rest of our family for perhaps for the first Thanksgiving ever. We were best friends, but were still learning to navigate our working relationship on the vessel, as well as the sea we traveled. Our banter seems amusingly naive and short-sighted on reflection: code words we would shout to signal a fight back in case of pirate attack, how many courtesy flags we could sew in a day, whether to run the engine for refrigeration or to go without and mitigate the risk of mechanical failure.
Now that Aaron’s family has grown, we may spend this Thanksgiving apart. It’s bittersweet to think that, whether it’s seven years ago or seven waves ago, none of us are in the same place we were then. This year, when my family gathers for the meal, I’ll look forward to my mother’s inevitable prompt: “We’ve all spent Thanksgiving in some different places. What are some of your favorites?”