In our previous life, as Mike and I would get in the car to meet friends for a night out, we would go through a standard checklist. I would ask, “Wallet? Keys? Reading glasses? Tickets?” Once we were settled on all of that, we would drive down our street, and inevitably one of us would inquire as to the status of the garage door. Then we would reverse our tracks to double check that the garage door was indeed closed. Because whom among us with a little bit of OCD can ever be sure about that?
In this life on our sailboat, when we are halfway to shore, we often end up doubling back to the boat because one of us is not sure whether we have forgotten to close the salon hatch (you can’t leave your OCD on the mainland, unfortunately) and as we go from boat to dinghy to shore for a night out, we have changed a few items on the checklist. “Wallet? Key? Bug Spray? Shoes?”
For some reason, probably because most our lives are spent barefoot (it has nothing to do with the rum, I swear), we tend to forget our shoes. And as we drive the dinghy back to the boat to pick up our “evening wear” flip flops, we realize what a privilege it is to live a life where you can forget your shoes, and where you you actually have evening wear flip flops.
So indeed, we live a privileged life. We are surrounded by nature 24/7. As I write this, I am in my swim suit, and four tanned and naked children are playing on a float to our port. To starboard, there is a fleet of windsurfers. Three meals a day, we dine outdoors. Yoga is done on a paddle board in a serene anchorage with a gentle breeze. We are not dreading work on a Monday morning, or sitting in traffic, or breathing in smog. We are not bombarded by news, all of which seems to be not just bad, but horrific. We are simply not in the real world.
So why am I a bit unsettled right now?
One challenge with this life is not being with my community when the shit really hits the fan. Not being in the U.S. during this critical period leading up to the mid-term elections, discussing politics with like-minded souls, is hard. But it was the massacre at the synagogue in Pittsburgh, in a community that is not unlike my own in Newton, Massachusetts, in which eleven innocent Jews were murdered, that left me yearning for my community. Many in our sailing group had not even heard about this tragedy, and few (if any) can relate in the same way. To me, it was deeply important. To them, it was barely news.
Mike and I went to shul this past Shabbat here on the island of Curacao. I felt a need to be with my people, and felt blessed that there was a synagogue a bus ride away. As we walked into this historic synagogue, Mikve Israel-Emanuel, the oldest surviving synagogue in the Americas, with its sand floors and simple decor, the small congregation welcomed us wholeheartedly. As I walked in to take my seat in the pews, I was overwhelmed by emotion. The rabbi, originally from Brooklyn, New York, had a personal connection to Pittsburgh and spoke about growing anti-semitism around the world.
Our life out here on the ocean is filled with laughter, kindnesses big and small, new experiences and wonderful people. But sometimes, there is nothing like being embraced by your people, no matter how high the sun is shining.
And for those of my more recent friends who don’t know why the Pittsburgh massacre is such a big deal, please spend a few minutes and watch this youtube interview with Bari Weiss from the New York Times, who was a guest of Bill Maher soon after this massacre. This explains why I care so deeply.