Earning the View
About two weeks before our move out date, my husband got inspired with an idea that would upend all of my well calculated moving plans, but why not, we were living in chaos and agility is a critical trait while cruising anyway right?...so bring it on.
So there we were, surrounded by boxes and random misfit objects commingling in a strange purgatory of our living space...not good enough for donations, not trashy enough for the dump. I had a week before my pre-moving trip. As I mentioned before, I had to pack, leave for two weeks, then move after I returned. I had a previous date with 59 North to do a passage from Key West to Bermuda and in the midst of a move after being in the house for 20 years, I was scrambling to find my headlamp and a summer sleeping bag...it had vanished in all the packing.
It was then my husband decided to sit me down with a big idea. He wanted us to go to Europe for two weeks leaving two days after I get back from my passage - the same exact time we were supposed to be moving.
He explained that he wanted to pull the moving date up a week, move while I’m gone on my sailing trip, so all I have to do is repack my bag from our new place, catch up on all the work stuff I would be behind on after two weeks and figure out how to work from Europe while we are there.
So just let that sink in for a minute... I’ll wait.
My head nearly exploded. I don’t consider myself to be high maintenance, extra transition time isn’t something I need. Honestly, I love the spontaneity of a last minute weekend getaway or midweek trip to the movies just as much as the next person. Anyone who knows me knows I’m not one to let grass grow under my feet if there’s a good idea for some action and adventure. But seriously.
What happened was we belonged to this closed group on Facebook, which my husband is addicted to by the way…well, and me too actually. It’s a group for people who own the boat we are planning to get. We both geek out on how they have outfitted their boats over the last two years since inception and every Friday night you can witness both of us sitting silent, side by side on the couch, faces lit up from the glare of our phones as we gaze lovingly at the built in cabinets and upgraded winches. The high drama in our lives is living vicariously through a system malfunction or a solar install gone bad.
Anyway, as it happened, three of the boats were planning to be in Sicily at the same time and a few other owners were planning to descend to tour the boats and interrogate the owners for hours on end about how they rewired electrical or whether AC was worth it or not.
My husband’s big idea was to go down there, do the meet up and that would help us decide what options we needed to have on the boat before our impending deadline....which was due in just a couple weeks after the move. I’ll have a seperate podcast about the option selection adventure.
He thought that if we go down there, we might be able to understand what we really did or didn’t need so we could save months of researching and making expensive mistakes. The logic is sound, the timing is freaking horrible.
All my objections didn’t temper his enthusiasm... like at all. Two days went by, he had flights picked out and logistics sorted and I just had to surrender because I was just beaten down by that point and distracted by the idea of facing 1,300 nautical miles offshore on a watch schedule in just days. I handed him my United Airlines frequent flyer info and off he went like a kid in a candy store. I have like a half a million miles saved up from work so why not.
Somewhere in there I was able to measure and go over to the new condo to lay down furniture positioning marks on the floor where various chairs, couches, beds and dressers needed to go. The thought of my husband and movers in a hurry playing furniture tetris gave me an ulcer so I man-proofed the moving plan with blue tape and a sharpie - a girl’s best friend.
I took my stepdaughter to put her in charge if things went sideways and just left it all in her hands. She’s such a gentle creature with a warm soul, calm nature and the biggest blue eyes you’ve ever seen...but I wanted to shake her by the shoulders and shout at her like an old football coach to get her badass-on so she could take on this HUGE responsibility. I listened to my better judgement who told me not to, which was wise.
I know, I sound like a control freak but I like to say I’m just good at managing risk.
I spent a couple days prior to my sailing trip on a quick business trip back East, and returned to swap my Tumi for my Helly Hansen bag that was stuffed. I was told to only take a 70L bag which fills up fast when you have to put everything in it; foulies, boots, sleeping bag, toiletries, clothes and shoes. I was flying to Key West, would arrive on a red-eye and have a full day before meeting the 59 North crew at their new boat Icebear, a Swan 59, at the docks. Again, all this is going to be covered in a blog on my first passage so I’ll stop there.
Meanwhile, back at the ranch, my husband had to pack up the rest of his stuff, his daughters stuff and all the kitchen by himself. Sure, it sounds easy enough but let me just explain my husband’s philosophy on time management. In his world, time exists only in theory. He typically does things at the last minute because he’s overly optimistic about how much he can get done in a certain amount of time, which would be fine if he were more of a fly by the seat of his pants kind of person but he’s not. In addition to having no respect for time, he’s also meticulous which is just a deadly combination of drive-a-wife crazy.
When we have to be somewhere, I’ll be ready and putting my phone in my purse walking to the garage and he’ll yell from the bathroom that he’s almost ready as he steps in the shower...and then finds a sudden inspiration to shave.
So, back to the move... I called the mover and negotiated his price for last minute packing, in case it came to that, and decided it was just altogether the best plan in the world for me to be gone. But, I would give anything to be a fly on the wall 12 hours before the movers showed up at 8:00 in the morning, which was right about the time I was going on my last night watch somewhere in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Bermuda.
As it turns out, the moment was beautiful, a peaceful morning sunrise on a perfect day, the sun already coaxing our jackets off as we smelled land for the first time in 8 days, making an approach into the channel to Saint George’s Harbor in Bermuda drinking our morning coffee. And then as soon as I was within cell range my phone blew up.
Mostly friends and coworkers wondering if I made it, the mover, my husband, and my kids who at some point figured out I was going through the Bermuda Triangle and couldn’t understand why I wouldn’t return their texts. Why is it that millennials can’t grasp the concept that there are still places on this earth where there’s no wifi. They smugly responded and said ‘good job’ with the level of verve that accompanies acknowledging someone’s efforts when they remember to take out the trash. My kids are impossible to impress.
At the immigration office at the dock I got my first ‘arrived by sea’ stamp in my passport. I went straight from there and checked into a hotel on the hill there in Saint George’s, took a Benadryl and crashed for the next 12 hours with the deepest night’s sleep I had in months. Oddly, the offshore sail was restful compared to the weeks and months preparing the house, downsizing and packing for the move. As physically stressful as it was sailing upwind, beating for days, being in a lightning storm and doing four hour watch schedules, it was easier to the weeks leading up to it.
I spent the next day, alone exploring Bermuda for the brief time I had until my flight left in the afternoon. I got a cab and asked the driver for a narrated tour, he ended it by dropping me at the famous Horseshoe Bay, or the Pink Beach as it’s called. I was alone, with nothing to do but be in the moment and stare at one of the most beautiful beaches in the world, with the coolest hue of blue you have ever seen.
It was then I realized, it was Mother’s Day, I had completely forgotten about it. And I was suddenly filled with immeasurable joy and gratitude. As stressed as I had been about this transition, I was so incredibly grateful to have these kinds of problems. The situation with my daughter wasn’t completely solved yet, it’s a process, but I was so grateful to have such incredible kids, and family, and my sister and my mother, that are healthy and happy, and safe.
As crazy as my husband made me, with his last minute wise ideas, I was grateful he thought of it and made it happen, and grateful he’s in my life. He’s a loving man, with a kind heart (and a hot body)... and I don’t have any idea what he sees in me sometimes.
As heartbreaking as it was to say goodbye to my home, it wasn’t the most emotionally difficult thing I had ever done...I had gone through many things much harder, and I will probably go through more hard things...but being in the middle of it then made it feel really big.
And this is the power of the ocean...it gives you perspective and it puts you in your place.
So this was the lesson I took from all that. The moment of serenity and intense joy I felt on that beach, which was preceded by the best night sleep I had had in probably six months, made all the drama getting there worth it. I had a deeper appreciation for the saying... ‘you have to earn the view’.
If you want something wonderful, sometimes you have to walk through suffering and hardship, real or invented in your mind, which has a whole new meaning when it comes to where I am in my life now. What made that time alone on the beach so incredibly wonderful, wasn’t really because it was a wonderful beach...though it is.
It was because all the hard, crazy and stressful moments that led to me getting there, created a beautiful contrast. So when I was able to be fully in the present, in that moment, it was a glorious gift.
This transition is hard, sailing and living aboard is going to be hard, but it’s the low points that define what the highpoints are...you can’t have one without the other.