Well, here we are – 11 months after the original post, First Mate Musings Thus Far. Eleven months. That means we’ve been out for 18 months. And if you tack on the Shakedown, in total, we’re approaching 2 years. Well, 11 years living on da boat and 2 years out and about. Wow. In my first musings post, I admitted to having angst over missing loved ones – alive and gone, not having a job or a schedule, not exercising regularly – all of which was offset by the joys of sailing, beautiful landscapes, and beautiful people. In that post, I also alluded to some underlying discord between Rand and me. So, I wanted to talk about that a bit. While it may not be an appropriate topic for a blog post, this discord caused some sometimes formidable strife in our perceived dream world and will probably continue to challenge us in the years to come. Because of this, but mostly because we’re smoothing out all of our edges, I thought I’d share. Spoiler alert: If you get queasy hearing or talking about feelings or interpersonal relationships, stop now. If not, read on.
Mea culpa: There was a time when I wasn’t sure if I’d make it in this sailing life – away from home, isolated, spending virtually every moment with my better half. Shouldn’t be so bad, right? I mean, Rand and I went through the first 15 years of our marriage just floating through with a kind of blissful inattention to the inner workings of our relationship and the things that make relationships work, like, for instance, communication. What’s with all this talk about communication? It seems like we talk all the time. Our first 7 years of marriage while living at Lake Tahoe were a breeze – 7-year-itch? Is that a thing? And living on da boat in San Diego was easy – I’d go out to Palm Springs 2-3 days a week for work and time with Flea, while Rand worked from da boat and on boat projects. We had it so easy (or so we thought), that we forgot to fight. Sure, we had little squabbles now and then that required family meetings, but never were there big blow outs or going to sleep mad. We just didn’t do that.
As time drew near for us to shed the safety of our little San Diego bubble, I started getting nervous. Really nervous. I was wracked with anxiety. Anxiety about leaving the security of my federal job. To be clear, I quit; “separated,” not retired, before I met the milestones that would ensure we had health care into the future and before I qualified to draw on my pension earnings right away without incurring huge penalties. Anxiety about going to Mexico and beyond. Anxiety about being away from my dad so soon after losing my mom. Anxiety about leaving my people – in case you don’t know this about me, I’m very social. The thought of leaving all of this made me a jittery mess. All of this anxiety translated into new and unfamiliar unease between Rand and me. Essentially, I projected everything onto him – all of my angst. We started having more uncomfortable silences. I started blowing up at the smallest, stupidest things, turning my back on him – going to sleep mad. Despite feeling like life as I knew it was ending (drama!) and the whole world was about to become my oyster (excitement!), after my mom passed away, I knew I had to throw caution to the wind and agreed it was time to head out to sea. Life simply doesn’t wait around for us to meet milestones.
So, over the past 18 months, we’ve had some pretty rough times (more than I care to admit), but we’ve worked really hard to better understand one another as well as ourselves. I’m all or nothing and quite volatile. Rand is the opposite – even-keeled and rational. We recognized that we were pretty inept when it came to effective communication when under duress (except when sailing da boat in crazy conditions – we nail communication during those times), and given our dispositions, we acknowledged that something had to change. So, we’re working on it. Rand gets the bulk of the credit for being proactive and finding ways to communicate better and more objectively. It takes a lot of awareness, compassion, and deep breaths.
Rand does, however, have that blasted Y chromosome. He thinks he’s (always) right. He thinks he knows everything. If there’s a question, he has an answer, or at least takes a WAG (wild-a#$-guess). If there’s an opinion to be offered, he’ll opine. And this is so typical in the world we’re living in – the world in general. In fact, the sailing community often refers to “blue and pink” jobs and responsibilities. It goes like this: The man on the boat is the Captain. He calls the shots, he makes the decisions, he does the mechanical work, he sails da boat. The woman on the boat does the cooking, the cleaning, the laundry, makes the beds, does the grocery shopping. She’s along for the ride. In essence, BS. Well, luckily, I’m married to a guy – yes, Randy – who has always encouraged me to be an active participant in running Free Luff, AND he does pink jobs, too – namely, the cooking, but he’ll do all the other stuff, too. Because of my comfort level though (read: discomfort), and partly because of his Y chromosome, it turns out that I still do most of the stupid pink jobs. But! I’m getting better and more assertive about sailing da boat, offering my thoughts on weather conditions, routes, sail configuration, and boat stuff in general. We’re gelling into a more functional team these days. And Rand, bless his heart, is trying really hard not to be all boY.
After nearly 2 years out at sea, there’s no question that we’re staying out. The angst I felt when I wrote the first musings post has abated somewhat. Sure, I still feel a lot of those things, but I’m getting a little better at managing my anxieties (Rand may disagree – haha!). I’m settling in – finally. And we’re able to continue to do this because we’re working together on our communication and cutting each other some slack. And, largely because Rand works so hard to bring home the bacon. He works everyday we have an internet connection, which is almost daily (how good of a connection is another story), and has enlisted me to do his billing. So you could say that I have a job, too. This is good for me. I have a teeny sense of purpose, which had been lacking for a while. And that was hard given what I did for a living.
As far as missing my people goes, I still miss the crap out of everyone. Happily, we’ve met some pretty darn wonderful people here in Mexico. Not that our new friends could ever replace our old ones or BFFs, but they sure help to fill the void. We are extremely lucky. Our hearts are full – with each other, with new friends, with old friends and family. With this sublime little life on the water.
Here are some pics of us and the landscapes from the past 11 months. Love to all!