These past three years of exposure have been gripping, and bountiful; from the growth of my tribe, to the clarity of my mind, to the seduction of my adventurous and wanderlust heart. It has not always been easy. At times I have felt pulverizing loneliness, at other times extensive and exhaustive inadequacy. But I once read that real adventure and discovery often do not begin until adversity strikes in some way.
I am a believer.
It is interesting to think about the people we were, sitting on that couch four years ago. Me wringing a wet towel between my hands, anxiously waiting to hear what was bugging him. Him, digging into my soul and challenging me to take on the most daunting task of my life thus far when he looked straight into my eyes, took a deep breath and said,
“I want to sail around the world.”
It is hard to explain to a person, who has not experienced it empirically, what it feels like to pull in a sail as your partner drops the anchor in high winds, everything happening at just the right moments without a word between you. Or the quiet beauty of an endless expanse of water around your little ship when the whole world becomes your forever pool. Then there is the palpable and concrete joy of seeing land after a long, hard crossing. Or, my very favorite, being at the bow in rough seas. Being tossed up into the air over and over to be caught at the bottom of the wave while the next one washes over the bow and your body, and threatens to pull you out to sea.
I have had more raw, heart pounding, life affirming, euphoric, preposterous moments tucked neatly into the last three years then in all the 30 years of my scrappy little life before that. My lows are certainly lower and my highs are discernibly higher.
It started with an epic summer in Minnesota, falling in love with both our new boat, and living on the water. Solidifying new, invaluable, inspiring, lifelong friendships. Then there was the huge bucket-list item of mine of taking a boat all the way down the Mississippi. With it’s myriad bluffs and hills, tributaries, gorgeous bucolic river towns, surprising sand dunes, a plethora of locks and dams and too many characters to count, it was in itself the trip of a lifetime. We spent seven months in New Orleans learning how to sail on Ponch, and creating and nurturing more unforgettable and edifying friendships.
Then there was that first monumental sail across the Gulf of Mexico, all of us ignorantly undaunted thanks to the the potency of our nescience. The pure, terrifying, delightful rawness of being 100 miles offshore the first time. Then the Dry Tortugas for our first taste of truly resplendent blue water. We spent a year learning how to live at anchor in Key West. We were enlightened to a whole hell of a lot in Cuba, and learned the strength of our little ship and the tenacity of our mates (the closest I have come to dying).
We took Bill for a little sail around the Bahamas for a few weeks and then spent 2 months in the singular, strange, insular island of Spanish Wells. And last, but certainly not least, sailing around the Abacos, which feels a lot like living postcard to postcard, and is exactly what one pictures when they consider sailing around the world. Every place more beautiful then the last.
We are becoming a well oil machine, with all of the empowerment and bliss that brings with it. The day we bought our boat we had no idea how to drive it, let alone sail it, if we would like to sail it or if we would get sea-sick. Now I know every line on our boat and what it’s for. I know when and how to reef the sails quickly, and can do so under tremendous stress. I know what to do in the event of a dozen different emergencies and more then anything else I know how to relax, in the shade, with a good book, as my gorgeous husband steers our little home expertly and Bob Marley sings in the background.
When I was young I didn’t know what I wanted to be. All I knew was that I wanted to be happy. I had no idea that would entail near death experiences and being stretched to the breaking point. I have discovered that the most gratifyingly authentic and remarkable moments of one’s life will be directly on the other side of one’s fear. Whatever that might be for each of us.
I want to take a second to thank all of you who have come along with us. I didn’t realize how many of you there were until Irma ravaged the area. Thank you for all of the well wishes and the concern. I have said it before and I will say it again. You never know how deeply loved you are until you are in danger. I hope you are enjoying the adventure.
And a great big Thank You to Bill. Our steadfast, fearless, hilarious, invaluable mate. I can not imagine this adventure without you in it. Nor would I want to. Sometimes when my mind wanders I’ll get a picture of you brushing your teeth, while steering the boat, while serenading us at the top of your lungs and it makes my heart monumentally full. We love you Buddy.
Back at it again soon.