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After four memorable years, fishing columnist Luke Ovgard bids farewell to his beloved

For the first time in ages, when someone I haven't seen in a long time asks me "What's new?" I have a legitimate response. What is it, you ask?

COURTESY PHOTO - Luke OvgardNo, I didn't get married.

Didn't get divorced.

Didn't have children.

Those are the three most common responses my same-age peers give, but none of them apply to me. I'm still in the family category most discriminated against by the U.S. Tax Code: single with no dependents. More than ever now, actually, because I just got out of a four-year relationship with my girl, Bo.

We spent all kinds of time together, and I think she was more beautiful when we parted this month than when we first got together years ago. She wasn't pregnant, but she had that glow, ya know?

I guess that's what made it so difficult.

We spent all kinds of time together over the years, exploring the Great Outdoors, but spending some quality time indoors, too.

COURTESY PHOTO: LUKE OVGARD - The author never named his love, typically just calling her 'His Boat' or 'Bo' for short.She'd only ever been with one guy before me, and he didn't give her the attention she craved, so I looked like a knight in shining armor early in the relationship.

At first, I thought about her all the time. We spent time together several days per week and weekends were a blissful haze of coupling, as we blurred the lines between intimacy and familiarity.

While we spent most of our early years traveling together and seeing the world around as new, unconquered territory waiting for us to stake a claim, time changed this. The fires of our love dimmed, and life slowly but surely got in the way of our once-strong relationship.

Drifting

When I bought my own place last year and moved across town, it became more difficult to meet up. Our schedules didn't line up, so I began going out and exploring alone more and more.

Even the activity that had brought us so close — fishing — was something we rarely did together. She was never a fan of cold weather, so that complicated things, too.

I was up a creek, but summer was my paddle. Maybe a good summer would prime us for a resurgence.

But she wasn't able to join me on my summer trip. The primer I'd hoped for turned to a sputter.

I knew it wasn't fair to keep her effectively hitched to my star. She deserved the kind of time she desired. As tough as it was to admit, that guy just wasn't me anymore.

When I realized we'd fished together just once in 2020, I decided we should take one last fishing trip. This would allow me, I argued to myself, to be really sure of my decision. If the feelings overpowered the recent historical trends, I'd try to make it work. I figured it was one last act of desperation, and I let Jesus take the wheel.

Perhaps it was the slow fishing (we caught a single fish); perhaps it was the heat, but the only electricity was the static that developed in the car ride out to the lake. We landed a single fish, and it was very anticlimactic.

We rode home in silence. It was awkward, but there was just nothing left to say. That's how I knew it was time to end things no matter how much it hurt. Bo, my beau, had to go.

Makes cents

I almost feel bad admitting this, but in addition to drifting apart, I came to the realization that I just couldn't afford her anymore. She was so expensive. Every spare dollar went into keeping her happy. I do all right financially, but I felt like I had to pour money into her just to keep our relationship afloat.

We'd been drifting apart for far too long, and I couldn't buoy her up with money any longer. When a stormy sea becomes the norm, you know it's time to jump ship, and that's exactly what I did.

I figured a clean break would be best, so while I was away on State Active Duty, I ended it. Sort of like a reverse "Dear John …" letter. She was silent, stoic even. She didn't make a sound until I pushed that one button that always fired her up. She was nothing if not reliable.

And that was what ultimately got me such a great price for her.

Since I was away from home, my brother, Jake, and my dad actually held the exchange. She struggled a bit, and I felt no shortage of guilt when the money hit my checking account, but I just couldn't go down with that ship, well, boat.

The man who bought her said he'd been looking for a boat like her for years, and I wished them well as I tried to readjust to life without her.

Within weeks of my return home I would be promoted to the rank of captain. The irony doesn't escape me, though. For the first time, I'm a captain without a boat.

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