The couple next to me in row 23 on our flight from Miami to Grenada were honeymooners, contentedly curled up in their window and middle seats, whispering and giggling. The wife began scratching her husband’s back- up, down, up, down, up down, and I don’t know why, but it really started to bug me. Up, down, up, down, scritch scratch. As the minutes ticked by, I stifled a scream, “hey, honey, that itch satisfied yet?” I had woken up at 3:30AM to catch an early flight from Boston to Miami, so I was not yet wearing my bright and cheery demeanor. I looked over at Mike, in the aisle seat next to me, hoping for at least a smile, but his headphones were tucked in his ears, his eyes closed, his mouth slightly ajar, a position that was not unfamiliar to me.
Mike and I were obviously not going to talk (or cuddle), so I took out my laptop, just as the very large gentlemen in row 22 pushed his seat back well beyond its intended limits. The laptop on my tray table just barely opened to 60 degrees, so writing was impossible. I sat back and shivered. The hoodie I wore for warmth on the plane was zipped up to my chin, and was not doing its job.
“Ahh, such first world problems,” I thought to myself as I leaned back in my own seat trying to relax. I closed my eyes and thought about how much I enjoyed seeing friends and family these last three months. I thought about how sad I will be to miss dinners, drinks and social events in the upcoming nine. I thought about how great it was this summer to have internet always, to be able to pop in to Whole Foods, to have Amazon Prime, not to mention Bloomingdales. I thought about how difficult it will be to be away while my brother suffers through a miserable round of chemo. I thought about how I will not be home for deaths of friend’s and relative’s parents (the first of which passed away a few days after I left.) Give me enough time alone with my head, I always come back to thoughts of death.
My thoughts went to the practical as the plane started to descend. We had checked five bags for this flight, all ridiculously heavy. Amongst the T shirts and shorts, we had packed half of the inventory of the Coolidge Corner Trader Joe’s – RX bars, truffle flavored marcona almonds, coconut cashews, peanut butter with chia seeds, cornbread mix- nine months of sunscreen, purple shampoo and conditioner (a necessity for silver hair), contact lens solution, “Yasou” salad dressing, a new teapot, iced tea container, fancy loose tea. We brought our new set of surprisingly heavy Mexican Train Dominos, five bottles of scotch from our trip to Scotland (because we will definitely be seeing our Scottish friend) and yes, even two bottles of Dawn Platinum dish soap…you can’t get jewels like those in the islands.
And the schlepping began. We schlepped through immigration and customs, where they opened and inspected every bag, requiring us to once again work together to zip what could only be zipped with two of us- one the squeezer, the other the zipperer. Five bags transferred from the taxi, to the boat yard, up the ladder, and up and onto the transom of Exodus on the hard, in 85 degrees. And we did it all in jeans.
So now we are back at the boat in Grenada, to a life of shorts and tank tops. Before we even splashed,, I managed to break most of my fingernails, stub my toe, get a mean rope burn on my right middle finger, and assorted black and blue marks on my shins. While eating dinner out the first night, my ankles were attacked by mosquitoes. The one thing we didn’t remember to bring in those five bags: bug repellant. Somehow, none of these things mattered.
It didn’t take long to be reminded why we love this sailing life-the smell of salt air, the green of the islands, the blue of the sky, the gentle motion of the boat. Our sailing friends, many of whom arrived a few weeks before we did, with others on their way, are wonderful and adventurous. Within about a week, many of us will be heading off in different directions, but we treasure these days. And while we love our friends in this harbor, we have others we love that are ready to welcome us at the next.
Meanwhile, as we get the boat ready for the next leg of this journey, we jump into clear waters for a swim, attend a dinghy drift (involves getting in your dinghy, tying up to other boats and drifting, while drinking rum), visit a brewery, hike with the Hash group, go to yoga and craft shows, take a trek to the fish market, and two buses to get to the supermarket. The sails are on, our burgees are up, Oscar Osprey Jackite is flying from the stern, and yes, even our gigantic Boston Red Sox flag (#Gosox) is waving in the breeze.
Life at sea is so spectacularly simple, and yet in so many ways so spectacularly difficult. In any case, it is in almost every way, opposite from a life on land. The transition from one to the other is not easy, but it is always the people who ease the transition, and it doesn’t hurt to be surrounded by beauty.