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“Well,” I said, “here she is.” I climbed onto the dock to hug them and stand with them. I wondered what they saw when they looked at my boat, which they had generously paid for as a college graduation gift. I hadn’t expected them to pay for the boat, and they surprised me when, after I found the boat I wanted, they asked me where to send a check. This hadn’t been discussed and I hadn’t asked for it, but in the fashion of my parents they gave unexpectedly and unceremoniously when I’d been prepared to scrape by and find the money on my own. Perhaps the underlying message was: now that you have gone to college and are bound for grad school, we feel like you have finally made something of your life, and so we’ll give you what you have always wanted. I wondered whether they saw a trap, a leaky little ship into which I would end up sinking every penny I made, or whether they saw her the way I did: a smaller version of Chez Nous, something that felt more familiar to me than any house or apartment or town ever would.

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There was still a lot more cleaning to do, but the ugly green mildew spots were gone. The wake from a crabber made my boat jump a little in her slip, like she was ready to go, and her white hull reflected the Crisfield water in zigzag ripples. The blue boot stripe and the toe rail framed the slender overhangs at the bow and stern. She looked like a combination of all the boats I had dreamed about while I was growing up—classy but practical, slender but roomy. Beautiful. “It looks big,” my mom finally said. “Are you sure it’s only 28 feet?” “It’s a big 28,” I said. “I remember these boats,” my dad said, after walking around to look at it from different angles. One of his best friends had worked for the Columbia yard in Virginia in the seventies, right after my boat was built, and my parents had even thought about getting a bigger Columbia when they bought the Gulfstar 47. “It’s amazing nobody’s gotten electrocuted,” Dad said, when he lifted one of the hatches to expose the batteries and the back of the electrical panel.

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