I remember it like it was yesterday. A conventional day at the office. Sitting nice in my chair, searching for the next big story that I can write in that week’s publication of The Miami Post. My neatly buttoned Michigan Wolverines jersey, tucked into my brown khakis that offset my dirty blonde hair “oh so well”. Little did I know this was going to be the most horrific day of my life.
As I exited the office that day, I felt proud of my work. The Miami Marlins had just won their 4th World Series title, defeating the Boston Red Sox in six games. Quite the upset, no one had seen it coming. Published in The Miami Post by yours truly, Jackson Pittman. I knew that we were supposed to be getting a lot of rain tonight, but I had made prior dinner plans with a good friend of mine, Zeke, who normally lives out of town. I told myself I would be okay. I knew this was very risky, but I had not seen him in five years. So, I thought it was worth the risk and decided to tempt fate. We were expected to meet at this very fancy restaurant just off the coast of Miami. We would have to take a ferry to get there.
As we arrived, the dark sky seemed to be getting more and more ominous as the night went on. We were seated by this pretty waitress with the name Kaylee eloquently engraved on her name tag. She seemed very kindhearted and good at her job. Just then, as Zeke and I were going to order our food, we heard them. Sirens.
Sirens. For anyone who lives in Miami you know these are nothing but trouble. This meant that there was some emergency around the city.
Shortly after the first blast of the siren, we were immediately evacuated from the restaurant with barely enough time to see that six inches of rain had already fallen from the dark sky. It hit me right away, the questions.
What were we going to do?
How long until I can return to Miami?
Will I survive?
The same waitress that sat us down reassured us everything would be okay. She was trying to convey this to us a confident answer. Instead I saw what looked like the fear of God in her sparkling, almost glowing hazel eyes. As if anything else could go wrong, she told Zeke and I to get into a lifeboat on the biggest body of water known to mankind.
Immediately, due to human nature I panicked. A million thoughts instantly ran through my Zeke told me everything would be okay, although I was finding it difficult to believe him. Here we were, stranded on the Atlantic Ocean, with nothing but the wooden oars attached to the boat, and our bodies. As we set out, I came to the realization that we were floating farther and farther away from the shore. Zeke and I began to get a panic rush and started paddling as a unit as fast as we could to get back to shore.
The water was splashing the miniscule lifeboat like it was a pesky little mouse trying to mess with its lion's mane. We had made little to no progress, in fact we might have been going farther out. We once again examined the boat in its entirety, looking for any sort of food or drink source to be found. Nothing but a megaphone, some rocks, and a spare set of oars. We had continued to row our tiny little lifeboat farther and farther out, realizing that our hope diminished a bit more and more with every stroke. I felt like there was no more point in continuing. It seemed evident to the fact that Zeke and I were stuck here stranded on this lifeboat with nothing but each other. I figured we should at least try and use these hopeless items that we had found.
Having known that we were in a very bad situation, we began to try and use the megaphone we had found while searching. I figured that this would have given us a chance to attract others out at sea. Each of us took turns screaming into the megaphone, to just maybe, maybe find signs of life and civilization anywhere. Repeatedly we did this for what seemed like an eternity. Nothing, not even a peep was heard.
In my mind everything seemed hopeless. As I thought about it more, I kept on bringing myself to the conclusion that I might die out in the middle of the ocean. What a way to go out. But, then I realized there still may be a sliver of hope.
The rocks. We thought of things that could be useful to do with them. Bingo, an instant lightbulb idea formed inside of Zeke’s head.
“We could spread out the rocks into an “SOS” and see if any boats were riding through, or planes happen to be flying overhead” , said Zeke.
We were in a very compact place to do such thing, so it was very frustrating to make space when in reality there was not a lot of space to make. However, we prevailed and persevered through the matter to form our version of an “SOS”. It looked more like a “5O5” but Zeke and I decided that it was the best version we were going to get.
We had waited a day and a half for our SOS signal to work, or at least attract the attention of somebody. This never happened, and at this point Zeke and I began to weigh our options a bit. The only alternative that seemed left was to just keep rowing, along with a major amount of praying. We did have one more thing that we had not used yet on the lifeboat. The extra set of oars.
We put our heads together to come up with a great idea to put these things to use for. We kept on coming up with the same generic idea of just using the extra set of oars, along with the ones we already were using. But, as I thought more and more about this proposition, I came to realize that this idea might not be so generic after all. Using double the oars would increase our chances of survival. While we would not be rowing any faster than we already were, we would be traveling faster, which meant we would possibly see more civilization.
Zeke and I sprung into action and began to row, continuously for hours and hours. I don’t know what Zeke felt like, but I know my arms felt like jello. Just as it seemed to me that I could no longer take the strenuous pain being put on my body, I saw-
LAND! . It was only a tiny strip, but Zeke and I both saw it.
Were we hallucinating?
Was this some mind trick meant to make me think I have accomplished it all?
I was not sure. All I was concerned about at that moment was the methodical one-two double oar stroke rhythm Zeke and I were producing to possibly have a chance to get to this gigantic land mass.This was when I knew we were going to make it. I felt all of my emotions come out of me at once. The tears stroking down my face ironically symbolizing all these feelings at once. The overwhelming joy of finally being able to get off this boat, along with what seemed like a twenty-five pound weight sitting on each of my shoulders being lifted off. These tears symbolized much more than feelings. They embodied my freedom.
As we inched our lifeboat closer, we were convinced that this land mass was not a cause of hallucination. It was legit, from the superb beaches that were in our view, to the colossal variety of buildings more inland.
Was this Miami? It sure did have a lot of similarities to the place I once called home. Maybe, just maybe, this could be my new home.
I told myself this, and continued to believe that this was beginning to become a reality, and this place had the potential to be my new home. I immediately thought of my coworkers, and how much I would miss them. Or Zeke, how he would feel about it all. There was no choice. There was no turning around. This was our new home.
As we resided off of the boat, we saw a sign that read “Welcome to New York.” I turned to Zeke as he said, “Wow. Big Apple, never thought I’d ever be able to say I visited, let alone live here with my best friend”
And just after Zeke finished his thought, I looked to my left to see in the right hand corner of a window “Help Wanted, Now Hiring” As we approached the building, we looked up. It read New York Times. Maybe things wouldn’t be so different after all.