I texted Nas yesterday to see how you are doing, and he confirmed you are afloat. This is a great relief to me, as very shortly, you are to become our one and only home. (No pressure.)
Remember in 2015 how we did two yard sales and sent carloads of crap to Goodwill? Yeah, well, we had to do that again. Neither Andrew nor I realized we still had boatloads (pardon the pun) worth of stuff we don’t need or want in the house until we started trying to pack it up. Even once we pared it down to just the stuff we would want, we realized it was going to be at least $6,000 to store everything for the next three years until we finish the circumnavigation. We didn't pay that much for the stuff when it was new! That just seems silly. So, we sold most everything, packed up only the things we absolutely couldn’t part with, and moved them to my parents basement. (Thanks, Mama & Papa.)
Then, we realized it would be better to sell the house rather than rent it out. You’d be appalled at the tantrums we threw about this discovery. “This is not normal,” I confirm as I mop a flood of tears from the face of an unidentified crew member. Osmond never would have agreed to this strategy if he knew the extent of comfort-work it laid in his path. He and Tasman have practically been in hiding the whole week, worrying they would end up in the "give away" pile.
What is everyone worried about, though? We already have a paid off house! (You)
It has been strange. On the first day we arrived home, it was like we never left. Our furniture was still in place, my parents were there to greet us, we celebrated Easter with an Easter day brunch and steaks for dinner. Slowly, as we packed up, it’s like we lived in the house in reverse. The furniture we acquired over ten years dwindled down to only the old stuff we moved in with when we moved from our college lives to our house. (Remember the Harvest Gold Couch?) As my memories ran through our time together, it was like watching a creature live it’s life cycle from birth to death. Bare lot, baby house being built, back yard being landscaped, house being filled with furniture, friends, dinners, marital spats, history, history and more history, then being cleared out before our trip, rented by our friend, cleared out again now, and suddenly, it’s empty. “A house has a soul, that’s what I always say.” I hear my mother’s voice in my head, and I know she’s right. Just like boats.
I keep telling Andrew anything that makes this house special, we built. We installed the backsplash in the kitchen. We built the tile planter box. We hand built the mosaic the fire pit I love with all my heart. The landscaping is all planned and planted by us. Mildred the Lemon Tree, Florence the Orange Tree, Russell the Eucalyptus, Sonora the Pomegranate, Dakota the Fig Tree — they all exist because we put them there. We did it once, we can do it again.
Furthermore, this sadness we feel in saying goodbye is only composed of good things: love, happy memories, delicious food, evenings spent with wine around the fire pit, friends, family, creativity, art, a decade worth of “Godfrey New Years Crab Cracks,” and long discussions about our dreams to go sailing. If we didn’t have these beautiful moments in this house, we’d be letting it all go without looking back once. Sadness is just the fading echo of everything good you long to hold to you forever.
That isn’t how life is, is it? Waves come and go. Sunny sailing days come and go, as do the days of terrible weather. No matter how much we want to avoid certain times or clasp other times to us, life doesn’t allow either to be. We must experience the moment and let it pass to the best of our ability. I guess this is one of those universal nuggets of wisdom humans are required to learn in life.
So, that’s the sadness, but what of the fear? People ask us all the time, what is the hardest part about sailing? This, bar none. Leaving the life we built, the illusion of security, careers, habit, routine. They all feel so safe. For some unknown reason, we felt compelled to step out of that film and into a dark void, a future that is different from anything we ever imagined as kids; different than anything our parents imagined for us; different than the history any of the people we know live now or lived in the past. It’s frightening because it’s unfamiliar; it’s harder to see. I imagine a person who grew up on a sailboat with sea faring parents may feel this way about moving to Nebraska.
This house represents a well-worn footpath through the meadows of my life. It is a rut I know well and loved to walk. Once we sell the house, the meadow will grow over the rut, hiding its obvious path back to my job, friends, and life I previously knew. We can still return here, but it is no longer the “most obvious choice”. It feels terrifying.
The courage to take this trip isn’t just facing big oceans; that feels like the least of my worries right now. The real courage for this trip requires me to release the person I thought I am - the person who built careers, houses, financial security, big dreams, a marriage - to become a Citizen of the Sea for some period of time. It requires me to trust that Leslie The Builder is still there and will be available when called upon.
I feel jealousy of those sailors who are at the stage of life in which they can retire, set out to sea, and live that way through perpetuity without worrying where their meals might come from five years from now. They don’t have to worry whether they are making responsible decisions; they’ve made their responsible decisions and sailing is now their reward. But of course, our strategy has its own benefits the retired crowd won't enjoy: bringing the lessons we learn at sea back to our work lives and an insurance policy against the creeping of time that often takes health and strength away before you ever set off. I am grateful, even if sometimes I get a little green.
I can hear your voice saying “Come on, Leslie! Don’t be so dramatic. Come back to Indonesia and I will sail you safely on to a white sand beach, tropical water, friendly people, and food you’ve never tried before. Thailand is just around the corner!”
Yes, thank you. Life can be that easy, light, and happy if we let it. After we finished loading up the U-Haul and drove to Utah, the distance from the house allowed the sadness to pass and we both could feel the lightness of more freedom take hold. You have already widened our horizons; we can already see more options than we knew existed just two short years ago.
For example, Andrew is thumbing through Nalco Job Listings for Malaysia as I write this letter, “just for fun” he says.
Baby steps into the void.
The rest of our trip home should be more fun. We'll cheer up as soon as we get a few mountain bike miles under our wheels.
How’s Grin doing? Hope he’s behaving himself up there on deck. We miss you guys!
All our love,
Leslie (and Andrew, too of course)
P.S. Tasman is really enjoying her first trip to the U.S. We have had a few sunny days, a couple days with 40-50 knot winds, snow and rain. She says Utah reminds her of home. Yes, these two pictures are within 24 hours of each other!