25 March 2011 | Claremont, California
We're sitting on a United-Continental Airlines Boeing 747, the latest in our recent string of airplane rides, jetting our way across the Pacific from Sydney to Los Angeles and flying along the same route -- in reverse -- that we sailed in the last 17 months. We're going home.
But where, exactly, is home? Home is where the boat's moored, where the camper's parked, where your clothes and your pillows are, or where the food is. Home is where you feel at rest, not biding your time until you really are home. Much to my surprise, I didn't yearn for home on this trip. In fact, for the first time in my life, no matter where we were in the last 18 months I felt completely in the moment and happily at home. Whether we were zipping back and forth between Marina del Rey and Ventura in the last stressful days while Catalina Yachts was still prepping the boat for us, or on our first official passage at sea down the Baja California coast, with 18 foot waves and 30 knot winds, or in the clean, starkly beautiful anchorages in the Sea of Cortez -- we felt warm and settled on Fly Aweigh. As we provisioned her for the long crossing to the Marquesas, snug in our berth in the charming seaside town of La Cruz for two months, sailing on Banderas Bay and learning more about our boat, we felt at home. On the 22-day crossing Fly Aweigh kept us safe, and by the time we got to Hiva Oa, it felt odd not to be aboard. Throughout French Polynesia, across to Beveridge Reef, The Cook Islands, Niue, Tonga, Fiji, New Caledonia, and finally into Australia, home was wherever we were.
When we sold Fly Aweigh I thought we'd experience a deep sense of loss -- I expected to feel ungrounded, and quite literally homeless. But the next surprise was that we never felt that way. We were blessed with fantastic buyers, who made it feel good to pass Fly Aweigh on to her next adventures. After arriving in New Zealand we had generous friends who gave us a place to stay on their boat, Curious, and just like that, Auckland felt like home. Traveling around the North Island in Subaru Sally, borrowed from our dear friends Michael and Gloria, and sleeping in their borrowed tent also felt like home. 6 weeks in a metal box -- our rented campervan named Hennessey -- going from campground to campground sometimes so often that I frequently had trouble remembering where we were, it still felt just fine.
Now, as we head home, we go not to the thing with the really big mortgage in Oxnard (which is rented out through the summer) but to the next iteration of home for us -- house sitting. For some or all of the summer we'll be in Claremont, next door to where I grew up, in the house where I spent nearly as much time as in my own, lounging around, eating pistachio nuts and avoiding homework, hanging out with my best friend Mary Ann.
But I think the real reason I've never felt homeless as we've journeyed farther and farther away from our actual home, and moved progressively into smaller and smaller spaces is because of my warm and wonderful husband. He has rolled with the sea, settled into the moment, shared every day of this adventure with me, and always been my home.
We're passing just north of the Fiji Islands, according to the inflight route tracker display thing, and I'm wondering what's worse: sitting in a coach seat for 14 hours, or crossing the South Pacific in an unstable plastic tub being propelled by bedsheets for 14 months. I think I prefer the tub. But I do know this: our South Pacific Odyssey -- our Right-or-Left Adventure -- is coming to a close, and a new phase is opening up. It was a giant leap of faith to take this trip, with many personal and financial sacrifices. It was worth every penny, every minute. We've been blessed beyond our expectations, had experiences we never imagined, met solid and wonderful people who will be friends for life, and grew in our marriage in ways we could not predict. We learned about ourselves. We have no idea how or why this all happened as well as it did, but we'll keep the faith and see what comes next. People have repeatedly told us that after a trip like this we'll come back changed. I'm not sure what we've changed into, but hopefully it's a better version of what we were when we left. Maybe more relaxed, more tolerant, less fussy. We'll see as time goes by. Allan has already admitted that his road rage will likely return within 2 minutes in LA traffic, but if that's the worst of it, we'll be doing okay.
As I post this it's Friday the 25th. We're settled into our new, latest home. We're working on receiving and clearing all our shipped goods from Australia, which should arrive today; running around seeing all our immediate family; getting things out of, and putting other things into our storeroom; trying to adjust to driving on the other side of the road; and getting ready for my nephew Scott and his beautiful fiancee Susan's wedding tomorrow. We have over 10,000 sailing miles, 8 countries, and 100's of cool critter sightings under our belts; we're older and maybe wiser and certainly more content. All is well.
Finally, I want to say what an adventure it's been writing this blog. As you may know I call it a "blurb" in honor of my dear friend Carol, who passed away from cancer last year. She dubbed it "blurb" and blurb it remains. Thank you all for your consistent and devoted support, which kept me going. Our favorite thing after a passage (besides doing the laundry) was to get on the Internet and read all the comments our friends left us at the bottom of the blurbs we'd posted while underway; it put smiles on our faces and made us feel connected. Many people said the blurb gave them a chance to live the adventure vicariously though us - to momentarily escape snow, or work tedium, or maybe gain a bit of insight or courage for their own adventures to come. But the truth is, I lived the adventure vicariously through you -- in writing about it, I got to experience it first and then live it again. Sitting at my little laptop in rocking seas, writing, rewriting, getting Allan's input, then logging on to the Single Sideband Radio to send it off to Sailblogs (thanks to the HAM radio buffs of the world) or in some cases searching for land-based ways to post it via the Internet -- it all gave me a goal and a purpose. So thank you for being there and for giving me a reason to write.
Farewell but not goodbye (I may post a few more, who knows),
The former Captain and Admiral of s/v Fly Aweigh