I pried open the plastic bottle and rattled it until I had three pills of Dramamine in my hand. I tossed them into my mouth and took a swig of coffee. I wouldn’t drink much more this morning, I didn’t want to throw it up. Minutes later, my father and I were in the truck, flying down the I-5. It was still dark out.
By the time we arrived at Depoe Bay, the horizon was beginning to glow. We parked, made our way down steep, rickety stairs and got in line. We were going deep sea fishing. I was dubious about the experience, but I have a proclivity toward vomiting. We paid, donned poles and baskets and boarded the Lady Luck– “Yes,” I thought, “I’m going to puke off Lady Luck’s backside.”
I’d prepared for this as much as I could. I wanted to believe the Dramamine would help me, but I also knew that I had a problem. We exited the bay on waves of doubt and apprehension.
The boat rocked a lot. We had to motor out nearly a mile before we’d start fishing, but the captain and others were dropping crab pots along the way. I focused on the cold, moist ocean air and tried to inhale at slow, steady intervals.
We got to a place where we could finally cast our lines in. I nearly tiptoed to the side of the boat, pulled my hook and lure loose and let it fly. I hadn’t fished in years and at this point was almost excited to catch something.
The waves continued to roll. Sometimes, they were larger and everyone on the boat clung to the railing with their free hand. An older lady actually fell backward at one point. She was alright, but her daughter stuck close after that. My stomach felt heavy when my side lifted, but it immediately jumped to my chest every time I dipped back down again. I knew what was coming. I just wanted to be on sure, steady land.
Several people had caught large mouth bass. All I’d managed was to drag up a bright orange jellyfish, which my hook and strange little lure sliced right through as it neared the surface. I pulled my line in and thought about casting it out again, but then it happened. A shot of hot fluid burst up my esophagus and out through my lips, right into the ocean. The jellyfish was still just floating there and probably felt as though insult had been added to injury.We’d only been on the water for forty-five minutes of the six hours we’d spend out there.
I looked around. Nobody saw, or at least was responding, I felt like I could still pretend to be a seafaring man. I reached back to cast when it happened again. This time, my father saw. He looked concerned and annoyed, but didn’t come over. He’s a vicarious puker. I lost it about every fifteen minutes for four hours. By the time I was done, I was mostly dry-heaving, because I had nothing left in me.
I was basically hungover from deep sea fishing for the rest of the day. It wrecked me to the point that for longer than was necessary, I ate saltines and only drank water.
★ ★ ★
I went twenty years without faith. I’ve now lived eight with it and though my foundation is still strong and I know exactly where to look for everything I’ll ever need, I still experience the occasional fit of doubt. It feels like ocean waves under my feet and leaves me reeling, dying to get back to the blessed assurance I’ve come to depend on.