as all sailors ultimately learn, it is easier to prepare a boat for sea than to clear the decks of your life for a voyage into unknown waters... - james baldwin
i love plans! i love goals and projects and dreams…and i love making them come true.
sometimes, things don't go as planned.
i spent the last several months (let's be honest, several years) planning to move onto my boat. first, i got the boat ready.
let's be honest again, the boat has been ready. i was not. i have a land-life and attachments to parts of that life…some more sticky and well-attached than others. there is fear around the kind of freedom i crave, and there is excitement for all the unknowns that are longing to be known.
last summer, i was crossing the bridge onto wrightsville beach and i heard my heart say as clear as day, i’m ready to go. it startled me. sure, i listen to my heart, i follow my heart, me and my heart are close companions. this was different…this was a prayer as much as it was a calling forward.
so, i began to unravel my land-life. for real.
goodwill became the recipient of bags and boxes of clothes and “things.” i spent many moments feeling into what is essential…because only what is essential makes the final cut. i had two white button-down shirts. i had to choose one and let go of the other one…because when your new closet only has room for about a dozen hangers, you have to choose.
i moved the blue tin box that holds my dad’s ashes onto the boat.
i cut and sewed my down comforter and cover into a smaller size to fit my berth.
i brought my favorite books and placed them on the shelf just so…so they won’t fly off when i'm sailing.
i reduced my life to about 6 boxes of “can’t let go’s”…my grandma’s pie dish, a small bag of mementos from my godfather’s life as a mountain climber, some framed artwork.
let’s be honest again…letting go is fucking painful. not for what i was letting go of…who cares about old tights with a hole in the knee and half-burned candles and serving dishes i haven’t used in years. letting go is painful because when you let go of all the things that safeguard your life and you stand empty and open for all the unknowns that are calling to you, it hurts…it hurts that you waited this long, it hurts that all that space is empty, and it hurts a little for the what-if-i-let-that-go-and-miss-it-later.
i also found a couple of things i won’t let go of…and will adjust for.
my old, metal desk.
i found it by a dumpster when i was living in L.A. it weighs a million pounds. i’ve moved it back and forth across the country, up and down stairs. it survived hurricane florence and i repainted it. i wrote my first book at this desk. it has no monetary value to me and i won’t let it go.
i also won’t let go of my one-hundred-and-eighty-seven-year-old cat.
i tried not to adopt her. we already had two cats. i told myself, if she’s still here in a week, then she’s meant to be mine. she was there, the last of her litter without a home, standing on her hind legs, crying with one little arm reaching out through the cage…so, i adopted her and we have been traveling companions ever since. she is a commitment that i’m not willing to break. so, on new year’s eve, i made one final attempt to move her onto the boat – because how you spend new year’s is how you spend your year.
and, i failed.
she’s on twice daily pain and thyroid medication and has arthritis in her left hip that makes it difficult for her to get around, much less make it into and out of the litter box. on land, this is ok. i manage it. on the boat, this is not ok. i can’t manage it. i’ve tried five times in five different well-researched ways.
realizing the limitation of honoring this commitment broke my heart...because my heart is ready to go. i spent the first few days of the new year feeling trapped and anxious and sad, and most of all feeling like i gave up on my dream…like i failed.
this little furry creature has been with me for nearly 18 years…and she is essential. she is my last tethering to land and i will stay with her until she’s ready to go. that is a gift and a journey, and it’s my choice.
my dream is still very much alive.
for now, my life exists as the sea-goat i am…on land and at sea. and, my boat life is ready for me, dream intact.
sometimes things don’t go as planned, and they always go exactly as they’re supposed to.
thank god i didn’t sell my bed.