“Who could not love this?,” I asked myself in the near darkness, with my glasses on, still too early for contacts, gazing out at the sea. A few minutes earlier I had let go the mooring in a protected harbor in Shelter Island, NY, and drew in a big breath of ocean air. It was not ridiculously early, 6:15 AM, but this time of year, it was still a few minutes before the sun came over the horizon. As the sun emerged, the yellows and oranges in the sky were vibrant against the deep blue of the sea, and the wind kissed my face, cheeks and eyelashes as I peeked out from the cockpit.
“Really,” I thought, “who could not love this?“
And yet, even as I was having that thought, I had another thought, just as clear, just as compelling: “As sure as there is a nose on my face, things are gonna change. It’s just a matter of time, things are gonna change.”
And minutes later, things actually did change, because of course, that is what happens on a boat in the ocean.
The minute Mike and I turned South, heading down the coast of Long Island, the winds came up strong from the South, right on the nose. The waves crashing over the bow were consistent and harsh. We calculated we had five or six hours of this pounding to reach Port Jefferson (Port Washington, our original destination, 30 miles further South, became out of the question).
“It could be worse,” I thought, channeling my inner optimist. “It could be raining. It could be cold. The winds could be stronger. The waves could be higher.” I gave a nod to the bright sunshine, knowing that someday, it will be worse. A lot worse. And some days, of course it will be better, a lot better.
We plodded on for about five hours, about accurate on the timing. But when we finally settled into a dock space in the protected harbor at Port Jefferson, everything was just fine. Pulling into a safe space after a tough sail is like arriving at a five star hotel after enduring a five hour car ride through a snowstorm. Or arriving at a shelter at the top of a mountain after hiking treacherous terrain for hours in the rain. This would not be fun for most people. But there is something about slogging it out that makes the arrival so much more sweet.
Actually, it was better than “just fine”, especially after we found the Port Jeff brewery and then realized there were no less than five ice cream stores in this adorable town of about two square blocks. I admit it, I always rate a town by the beer and ice cream options, with extra credit if any of the ice cream establishments offer peppermint stick (they did not).
And now, I am writing this as I sit in the warmth of the sun, an abnormally warm October day, with the cool stiff breeze coming in through the open doors of the Sunshine Laundromat in Port Jefferson, New York on day 4 of my new life. I am waiting for the machines to wash a huge load of towels that got soaked from the water which came over the bow on that tough sail, getting in every nook in cranny, and into the unlocked (our mistake) deck lockers.
As I sit here, I remember the days, not very long ago, that I simply went to the mudroom in my home to put in a load of laundry. I don’t own a washing machine or dryer now (or a car, or a home for that matter-I don’t even have a set of keys to anything) and surprisingly, I don’t care.
The Laundromat is full of congenial people, and if I spoke Spanish, I bet I could have some really interesting conversations. It is sunny and bright. There is free coffee. There is a table where I can fold clothes the proper way (Mike’s t shirts have never looked better), and another table where I can take out my computer, think and write. The washing machines are huge, and cleaned my huge load of towels in 28 minutes. The driers are even bigger and more efficient, and it’s only a quarter for 20 minutes! Who knew? When I could not find the missing sock, the manager found it for me!
Obviously, even on day 4, I am beginning to appreciate the little things in life.
This life would not be fun for most people. There are too many highs and lows. Too many scary times. Too much uncertainty. Not enough comforts. There are times, like for 5 hours yesterday, that it was not much fun for us, either.
But I can for sure say that while things might not always be perfect, they will never, ever, be boring. And there are endless laundromats, breweries, and ice cream stores yet to be discovered. On our way to Brooklyn!