I’m so embarrassed. To write this post, I have to admit to what is an appallingly trivial issue. But it’s the only way to settle this ambivalence.
It’s old news that I live aboard a floating home. I live an amazing life and I know it. I visit dozens of ports, walk historic streets, gaze at amazing sunsets, misty mornings, and dolphins daily–but that’s not what this post is about. The gist of this slightly pathetic discourse is that in spite of these blessings, some days like today, I sit like an unbalanced bird on a buoy, faltering between my glorious view of the ocean on the lee side, and fantasies of mani-pedis to windward.
What am I? An ingrate? A curmudgeon? No. Probably confused. Maybe a little depressed.
Pre-boat, my husband held a demanding job and appreciated my managing the upkeep of a house that we’d outgrown, increasingly complicated finances and investments, community and family connections–you know, housewifery–along with some freelance writing and editing. I did my job well enough to earn hours of playtime in my fictive space, creating imaginary worlds. My dreams, however, were of the day we’d be doing exactly what we are—living a long-held obsession to cruise full-time.
When we were still on land, my fantasies of being a live-aboard created a kind of euphoria, anticipating the weight of the world lifting from my shoulders. Surrealistic sunlit days would find me polishing brightwork or writing to my heart’s content, cooking hearty stews, or taking my turn navigating and manning the helm.
When people ask me about the cruising life, their questions allude to a life of luxury—downing drinks with little umbrellas, slathering deep tans from all of that nude sunbathing, a life with no responsibilities except the adventure of the seas, fending off pirates and perfect storms.
Admittedly, I post photos that live up to that image, but my ruddier hands attest to the fact that that I’m leaving out a few details. It’s not all rum and raft-outs. Life aboard a boat can be grueling and stressful. Again, that’s not the theme here.
For starters, I miss uninterrupted hours to write and the kind of connection with my writing buddies that similar goals create. When I hear the joyous stories about conferences, retreats and residencies I’ve missed, I ache in a way I never expected.
I miss running errands. Of all things. Errands! On occasion, we rent a car at a port to provision, dash around town, hitting a zillion stores in a day, reminding me of that other world. Truthfully, I think running errands is partly about flaneuring anyway.
And here’s the embarrassingly silly, pathetic part. I so miss mani-pedis, working out at the gym and getting my hair done by someone I trust and not rushing to an uninspired beautician with dated skills whose salon happens to be near a marina. I miss my big bathroom, the option of taking a bath, exfoliating.
There, I’ve said it. I miss the pampering. They say admitting to an addiction is the first step . . .
But most of all, I miss my family. My Mom. My children and even more, my grandchildren. Enjoying Facebook updates and photos while their other Grandmas are creating memories is a tradeoff of unimaginable proportions.
Sometimes, it all takes the wind out of my sails. Maybe I just need a vacation from paradise? Will somebody please save me from myself? The crazy paradox here is that we’ve been talking about extending the years we cruise and I’m all for it!
There’s that part of me that sees the powerful sea legs on which I stand when I look back out at the ocean. I can’t imagine living without the gentle rock life aboard a floating craft provides. Or the sights and smell and sounds.
And for the rest of the story? The lumpier, stressful facets of a life at sea? I’m hoping some dashing adventure novel is evolving in my mixed up mind, of teens adrift at sea with pirates and perfect storms and all the imagined sea fantasies, but with the advantage of some very exacting details.