We've been getting a lot of sympathy for the end of our cruise - like it's some sort of death in the family. It's almost like we have cancer. To our peers, the unspeakable has happened - we are ending our cruise. Like it's a failure, or a tragedy, or an unimagineable hardship.
Well, I have news for those people feeling sad for us. It's not what you think. We aren't going back simply because we ran out of money. It's mostly because of the things you give up to go cruising.
Every single cruiser out here has given up some pretty important things to be cruising. The list is long and different for each one. For us, the main thing we've given up is being with family. I miss spending time with my parents. More importantlly, I want my child to spend as much time with his Grammy, Grandpa, Poppa, Aunt Pat and his aunties, uncles and cousins as possible. There are no guarantees in life, and time is limited. I want them to know him as the fine young man he is becoming. Family is a gift that we have been ignoring for too long. So many of our friends down here are grandparents who are giving up time with their grandkids and I see the pain it causes. It's sad in either direction.
We have given up being part of a steadfast community. Yes, I know that cruiser's have their own community, and I love participating in it. But let's face it. We are all water gypsies. We come and go, move here and there. You often don't even know when the last time you will see someone is. One minute they're in the next anchorage over, and the next minute they're off to Timbuktu. Or vice versa. It's a very transient life and if you are truly cruising around yourself, you never have coffee with the same friend two weeks in a row. That's cruising. I miss having friends that you see every week and know what's going on, and have over for dinner every Thursday, month after month.
Jack has given up puttering in a garage, having friends who are available for a bike ride or a face to face chat. He's given up mountain biking, and spending time with his grandparents. For the most part, Jack has given up time away from his parents. That's pretty important for a teen searching for independence. There's not a lot of places to go to be truly away from your parents in a boat. Sure, you can take the dinghy to the beach, or go for a hike alone, but there's not a lot to do. We have gone months without even seeing another teenager. It can be a pretty lonely existence for a young teen.
Patrick and I miss donating time to charities that are important to us. Yes, you can give money to thousands of good causes down here. However, as a cruiser you never get a chance to teach English at the orphanage every week and build up a relationship with the kids, or spend months helping to build houses, or even muck out the cages at the local dog pound once a week. If you are truly cruising, you are moving every few weeks. People who are living on a boat, staying in one place can do those things, but they aren't cruising. We miss making a meaningful committment to a good cause.
I miss having a home with a garden. I miss working in the Earth and seeing the beautiful flowers after months of work starting them from seed. I miss picking the apples from the tree I planted, the blueberries from my bushes, the strawberries from my plants. I miss pouring over seed catalogues planning next year's plantings. I miss making a mess in the garage knocking together a birdhouse from broken bits of old things. I miss painting new colors on my walls every couple years. I miss creating art. There just isn't enough room on a boat to have a place to store all the things you need to be creative. I never could get excited about beading (a very popular art form for lots of cruiser ladies since it doesn't take much room.) I wanted my 4'x6' canvases, my oil paints, gold leaf, gesso, my stash of brushes and the mess of creation. There just wasn't room, or time on a boat while cruising.
The funny thing is, I totally understand why people are feeling sorry for us. Over the last few years, when I heard that some family was going to quit cruising, I felt deep sadness for them. Even if I knew nothing about their circumstances or their plans. I just felt sad for them. I must have annoyed at least a few of them with misplaced sympathy. I'm sorry. Now I get it. When it's time to go home, it's not a sad thing. Sure, it's a challenge, it can be hard. But it is not a death or a failure. It's a rebirth. A new beginning. I love those. That's why I love spring, and the new flowers just coming up. The sky is the limit.
5 days ago