“Why would I want to leave everyone I love, and everyone who loves me?”
My daughter asked me that, many years ago, when she was considering moving to another state. I had no answer then, and the question haunts me today, because Mike and I have actually decided to leave everyone we love, and everyone who loves us, in just a couple of weeks. We are going to pursue our dream of living on our sailboat, Exodus, and begin to explore the world by sea.
The plan, as of two weeks ago, was that by mid-November we were going to be settled in the British Virgin Island of Jost van Dyke drinking rum drinks at Foxy’s, and snorkeling around the coral reefs of the Caribbean, but like most things having to do with boats and nature, Irma has caused us to rethink that plan. We don’t know what Plan B is yet, but living on a sailboat means being willing and able to change plans, places and times at the last moment, so we will figure it out.
The dream of taking a break from our lives, living on our sailboat has been my husband’s life long dream. In the past 5 years, since we have owned our own boat and spent more time at sea, I have gotten completely “on board,” pardon the pun. Mike and I are at that “sweet” spot in our lives, old enough to have kids who are financially independent, yet young enough that we are still physically capable of handling the boat (because in truth, it ain’t easy).
We are able to leave because we don’t have grandchildren (yet). We are able leave because our one remaining parent, Mike’s mom, is in good health and will be well taken care of by Mike’s sister and her grandchildren, who live nearby.
We must leave now, before it is too late, because being stricken by breast cancer two years ago taught both of us that we must live life to the fullest. because you simply never know what is around the corner.
It has been said (but perhaps only in Fortune Cookies) that “All you’ve got to do is decide to go and the hardest part is over.” That, my friends, is a load of crap (and personally, I like Snapple Cap advice better). When Mike and I actually decided that we were going to move on to the boat, that’s when the hard part began. And I cannot overstate how difficult this has been for us.
For me, it’s been kind of like childbirth and cancer and a root canal all wrapped into one. I know it has been similar for Mike.
As I have written in previous posts, there is a great deal of loss associated with moving and selling a home of 30 years.
I am deeply saddened that after 5 years of building and talking and videoing and laughing and growing a business with my friend Felice, I will not be able to talk to her, laugh with her, or collaborate with her on a daily basis. Together, we have shared many tears, with love and understanding.
Mike and I have lost countless nights of sleep knowing we are causing real physical and emotional pain to Mike’s mother, who loves us, relies on us, and worries about us on the ocean (yeah, thanks for nothing Harvey, Irma, and Jose- you’ve unleashed a new hurricane Gloria!)
There is an overwhelming loss that results from weeks of teary goodbyes with friends, and knowing that I may go months without seeing one or more of my adult children.
There is brutal tension around getting the boat prepared, updating our estate plan, figuring out work and finances, buying point of injury evacuation insurance, selling cars, figuring out prescriptions and mail and internet and provisioning, not to mention nails and toes and makeup and hair and exercise. Watching one hurricane after another devastate just about every single island we thought we might sail to adds to the tension.
But that is what happens when you live in nature. You learn to adapt.
So, while my left hand is filled with all of that pain and anxiety, it’s my right hand, my dominant hand, that holds all the excitement, adventure, a life long dream, new places, new friends…and of course, sharing a drink on deck and watching the sun set over the horizon when we have visits from those we love (actually, we will do that every day, whether you visit or not).
So why are we leaving everyone we love and everyone who loves us?
The answer is that we must. It’s the only answer. You wouldn’t voluntarily go through this much pain unless you had to. The sea is calling to us.
I am excited to chronicle my journey in better after 50 starting at the beginning of October, and I intend to be as much a part of ba50 as I can possibly manage during this sabbatical year. I expect that this adventure, like life, will be filled with tough times, tears, fears, and lots of laughter. I hope that you will follow along with our adventure.
And wish me good luck…can you even imagine living on 49 feet with your husband?