Yesterday, with only a few minutes left in my weekly Zoom appointment with my therapist, I decided to derail the proceedings to ask her what I believed was an essential question. It had nothing to do with my fear of vulnerability or difficulty asking for help; in fact, it had nothing to do with me at all.
Had she seen the stuck boat?
The boat, of course, is the Ever Given, a massive container ship operated by the Taiwan-based shipping company Evergreen, which probably now wishes its name wasn’t painted on the boat’s sides in such enormous letters. On its way from China to Rotterdam, in the Netherlands, the boat accidentally Tokyo drifted to a stop in Egypt’s Suez Canal on Tuesday, where it has been stuck sideways ever since. Efforts to refloat the Ever Given so far have been futile; the heavy construction equipment and fleet of industrial-strength tugboats assigned to that job have been successful not at dislodging the ship’s bow from the canal’s sandy shore, but at demonstrating this big-ass boat’s stupendous girth in photos. The ship, which is longer than the Empire State Building is tall, looms over literally everything—construction equipment, palm trees, nearby buildings. The Ever Given is Manute Bol to the human world’s Muggsy Bogues.
My therapist had not seen the boat, even though photos of it had already begun to be manufactured into memes about life’s existential problems and the stupid little things we all do to feel some control over them. I asked her to Google it in front of me, because I had become obsessed. Since Tuesday afternoon, in fact, I have thought about little else. The first photos I saw of it were taken by workers on the Maersk Denver, the ship that was immediately behind the Ever Given when a wind storm is suspected to have blown her sideways. (Yes, the boats are girls.) I spent much of yesterday hunting down photos of the boat, both in situ and in happier times. I acquainted myself with websites like VesselFinder and MarineTraffic, as well as with the concept of Suezmax and the phrase bulbous bow, which the Ever Given has and which means that she is not just on top of the sand, but also lodged inside it.