Photo by Linda Szabo White
The story that became "Rain Line" spiraled slowly and sadly from two deaths -- the first of a friend whose car crashed into the Boston Harbor one wintry night, and the second, soon after, of a cousin who drowned in a lake in Maine while swimming with her four-year-old son. The irony that they had both, like me, been "water people" and that, in. the end, water had claimed them, struck me hard. I remembered the friend waterskiing three miles in the frigid Maine waters on one ski, to the dock of a tiny island in Muscongus Bay, a grin on his face all the way. I remembered my cousin, with whom I'd spent countless hours in pools and ponds as a child, bobbing and twirling, underwater tea parties, handstand contests and cannonballs. Marco Polo!, pruny hands and purple lips, water up our noses, wet air streaming down our backs. All my life, I'd known the exhilarating, soothing. healing powers of water. In two fell swoops, water had revealed its darkest, most unfathomable side.
My friend, the driver of the car, was not alone that night. He had a passenger who somehow managed to get out of the car and make his way safely back to shore. I shook this person's pale hand at the funeral and thought about him often in the days that followed, how his life would be forever reshaped by the events of that night -- how he might carry on.
In Leo Baye, I created my own survivor, placed her in a sailing car and plunged her into a dark river, then sent her spinning back up to the surface, back to the childhood home she'd fled years before. The rest I offer up as not much more than a New England family saga -- a bit offbeat, as all good New England sagas must be, an odd mix of the bizarre and the banal. I draw from what I know -- being a Cantabrigian, a daughter, a mother, a sister, a lover -- from being part of a family with all of its vagaries -- its secrets, riches and dearths. A family held together over time by the strange and powerful glue of shared experience, and a stubborn, persistent attachment that grows wild like a weed, and, when hard-pressed, goes by the name of love.