Frankly it was very very hard to leave behind our wonderful life and those we love to take off on this adventure. Sailing away into the sunset sounds romantic, but now I understand why more people don’t do it. As we sat in our hot tub the last night before we gave up our home to renters, I had to remind myself that we were doing the right thing. When we said goodbye to all the wonderful folks we see every week dancing salsa, staying in shape while having a ball, I began to miss it before I even left the dance floor. And when my friend who I have known since my first days in San Francisco 40 odd years ago, cried in my arms as we said goodbye, it broke my heart. My sister Sharon and I have become closer than ever before over the last few years; this was not an opportune time to cut that relationship short. We have such a connection to our home, our family and friends, and our lifestyle, and adore them so much, I couldn’t help but wonder if my wanderlust was no more than a phantom of times gone by when the grass seemed greener elsewhere. At this point in my life, the grass was plenty green right where I was, I had worked so hard to get there, and why wasn’t I just laying back and enjoying it instead of working my skin to the bone to take off on yet another cockamamie adventure?
The answer is, as always, that I want to squeeze every last drop of experiences and mind-expanding/altering observations out of this one life as I can, and I am lucky enough to have a partner in Rick who has the same goal. It was his idea to keep our home and not go all out as some people do by selling everything and then planning on living on their boat forever. While we are intent on pursuing this dream, we have the fall back position of returning home any time it is no longer fun. We aren’t doing this to prove anything to anybody, although admittedly we do get a kick out of being held up to others as the model of making the most out of retirement! We have completed the highest level of training offered by US Sailing, a distinction bestowed on less than 300 people throughout the United States when compared to the thousands and thousands who have lesser certifications – why shouldn’t we now do what we have trained so hard for? At the same time, we knew if we were going to do this, we had to do it now. Our bodies are showing obvious signs of age, and I am not sure from day to day if some other body part is going to start failing or need repair. In a few years I am not sure my body could physically handle this voyage, even if I could still muster the determination and fortitude required to make it happen.
And once we were finally underway, the pressures of getting ready for the trip subsided and all that was left was a realization that every day truly is a vacation day in some new place to discover. It is like having your own private cruise ship! Our time is our own – we can write, read, work on the boat, prepare for our next sail, go out and discover a new place, eat in or eat out, or do whatever else we want to, whenever we want to. I still continue to have details of our past life to deal with, (our friend Bev who is scanning our mail for us just sent me a jury summons!) but all of a sudden those things just don’t seem to have the urgency they once did.
Even after just 6 days into our adventure, I am slowing down. For example, without a washer/dryer on board, we need to use a laundromat. Remember those? It takes lots and lots of quarters and time to wash and dry 3 loads of laundry per week. So how do you handle that? Relax, take your time, and find something to occupy yourself while waiting. I feel like I am reverting to a simpler life where I don’t expect myself to accomplish as much in one day, but rather enjoy the moments of the day I have, whatever I am doing with them.
To the extent that there is any truth to the eastern notion that one’s next life can be improved by working through Karma of this life and growing to become a better person, I feel like this trip holds great potential for just that. I think both Rick and I will each grow, both as a couple and as individuals, by facing the joys as well as the challenges of sailing and of meeting new people and discovering new places throughout our journey, certainly more so than remaining surrounded by the familiar.
And to my dear family and friends, it still breaks my heart to not have you nearby, and I am hoping you can come visit us wherever we may be. I am grateful for your support and understanding of why Rick and I felt compelled to take this journey that we have prepared so hard and long for. Know that you will always be in our hearts, and that we are really just gone on an extended vacation, returning when it is over with some good stories to tell at Thanksgiving!