Soul Plane

Soul Plane
Melissa Conlon, Boatbuilding & Restoration Student Ambassador

image

My decision to attend IYRS came to me like a period at the end of a sentence. As you read my journey here at school, you’ll notice my sentences run on or are often times incomplete, they end on an intuition. They are informal. They don’t always flow, but I hope that they evoke something when the story is all said and done. I should do that, I thought. This belongs here. I belong here.

And so the next sentence began, I needed to apply.

I found myself pacing back and forth over a scattering of paper clippings and photographs on the floor. I was gliding with my socks, parting scraps of paper like the red sea, nervously fidgeting with a picture of my father, my phone wedged between my ear and shoulder as I spoke to Danielle, who works in admissions at IYRS. She called me to let me know someone had sent in a letter of recommendation for me but there was no application to show for it. She had panicked initially, thinking that it was lost somehow, but I explained to her over the phone that I hadn’t quite finished mine yet.

I could feel her eyes reduce to slits on the other end of the phone, her voice grew confused but encouraging, “the application only takes 20 minutes! You can complete it online.”

I didn’t want to give Danielle the impression I was lazy over the phone by telling her I failed to submit a very simple application, however I stuck with my vague truth.

“I know, I’ll be finished with it in the next couple of days and I was hoping to just mail it in or something.”

After I had hung up, I sighed and took in the sight that was my application, divided into two territories on either side of an imaginary ocean, myself in the middle. I still need to assemble it, I thought to myself.

Once it finally was bound, using excess mousing wire clippings from the pockets of my yard jacket, my application was placed on Danielle’s desk. It was sealed in a large envelope illustrated with a tiny red boat sailing through, what looks like to me now, a sea of french curves.

“WHY MAKE THINGS EASY WHEN YOU CAN MAKE THEM INTERESTING?”

As you can gather, I got accepted. Thinking back on it now, I think I could’ve saved my assembly reserve for the boat I’d be building in the fall but, why make things easy when you can make them interesting?

“Do you have a support system?” Danielle asked. We were seated in the IYRS library overlooking the water. Regatta trophies and historic yacht books listened in on my admissions interview. This time I was nervously fidgeting with a hole in my sweater I wore straight from the boat to the interview. Maybe I should’ve changed.

At this stage in the game, my family knows, my mother especially, that I stubbornly will push through anything I’ve committed my mind to. Anything she’s ever been resistant to, and for good reason, I will do anyway.

Mom, I’m getting a tattoo. I’m keeping this kitten I found in the backyard. I want to move out. I want to quit school and pursue film. I want to sail. I want to sail to Cuba.

Oh yeah, mom? I got another tattoo.

Pitching to her that I wanted to go to school and build boats didn’t shock her, she smiled and sent me the pictures of my dad I wanted for my application. She also doesn’t hate my tattoos anymore. I think.

Brian, my boyfriend, who I hope has fallen in love with my impulsiveness instead of hoping I chill out one day, has been supportive beyond bounds. He didn’t offer a single word of doubt when I told him I wanted to reduce my work hours to a maybe and do the 40 hours a week in a wood shop.

Then of course, my father who I think knew I was going to end up like this all along, just responded with opening a draw of vice grips and started asking what I needed to take.

“This plane will last you a lifetime.” Hans, my instructor told me when he first sorted through my tools in the first week of school. He was disassembling a craftsman plane my father had given to me in one of my visits to my parents house.

“I’m not sure if this is what you need, but they were my grandfathers.” My dad said, sliding a cardboard box of planes and blades over to me.

“It has wood chips in it still, you can tell the previous owner used it. Their soul is in this plane, and soon you will put your soul in the plane too.” Hans said, reassuring me with a tone that seemed to carry more weight then I can explain.

image