This post revisits one that I wrote on our original Sailblogs site back in September 2010. As we draw closer to our current departure, there are many of the same issues that are staring us in the face for a second time. So here we go again!
When one chooses to depart from the norm of our American society and go cruising, tremendous change occurs, and adaptation to the new way of life is necessary. The return to American society is just as overwhelming, if not even more so. I am reminded of this as I watch our timer countdown and attempt to achieve everything on our to-do list. Maybe I am more sensitive to change than most people, but surely I’m not alone. Sure I thrive on excitement and adventure, but each new step is not without stress. Departing society and returning to society each have their own challenges.
Before departing from society back in 1998, we worked 40+ hours each week, lived the big city life, and had plenty of everyday luxuries. Moving to a sailboat meant spending 24 hours a day in a small space with your spouse where even using the toilet could be troublesome. Utility company employees didn’t seem to understand why we were cancelling our service and didn’t need service elsewhere. Then, there were all the prior arrangements that needed to be made for receiving mail, paying bills, and storing anything that wasn’t going with us. Society is filled with a ton of hustle and bustle, so when we finally got on the sailboat and started cruising, initially life was hard and it was difficult to slow our pace. Eventually, we learned that it was ok to spend a few hours or more reading each day. It was ok to go to bed at sundown. It was ok for a simple chore to take all day. Most importantly, we were finally getting to spend quality time together.
We’d adapted to cruising life. There wasn’t a care in the world other than keeping the boat shipshape, finding our food, planning our next route, exploring our next port-of-call, keeping in touch with family back home, or possibly having social hour with the current buddy boat. Fresh fruits and vegetables were acquired from the nearest market within walking distance. We fished for dinner, or traded with the locals. We baked our own bread, and made most things from scratch using only what we had on hand.
As we neared the end of our cruise, the ports we visited became a little more populated as we got closer to the US and tourist areas. While we were in Isla Mujeres, we thought it would be fun to take the ferry over to Cancun to do some shopping. I will never forget how overwhelmed I felt when we walked into our first Wal-Mart in almost a year. That was a HUGE mistake! I couldn’t focus on the products, for all of the people walking around us. Then, I just stood in front of the meat counter, looking at all the choices of meat. How could I possibly decide which meat to buy? We got out of there as quickly as possible, without buying a single item.
Then, we returned to the states. People didn’t understand how we didn’t know what Y2K was. It was an experience to do more than 35 mph in a car for the first time in a year. When we bought our first house, which was about 1575 sq ft, we felt so far away from each other at opposite ends of the hallway. And the idea of saying good-bye to each other as we went back to work . . . unthinkable!!
We, of course, adapted back into American society. It didn’t take long before we fell back into the rat race of city living. However, this time it was as a family of four. Daily play dates, afterschool sports and activities, birthday parties, trips to Target, driving a minivan, etc. My calendar was full and I would still pack it in. Fortunately, the two years we spent living on Topsail Island helped bring us back to the reality of our cruising goal and the lifestyle we so desperately wanted to live again.
Our exit from American society is rapidly approaching for a second time. Since we’ve been through it before, I was hoping the transition would be easier this go-around. However, we’ve been a family with kids for almost 12 years. There are so many more items on our platter to pear down. We have a bigger boat. Kids need additional support through a big move. We’re not just “going cruising” this time, we’re making a lifestyle change. It’s like having a second child . . . you know what to do, but life is more complicated. We just keep moving forward, know that we can do it, and the rewards will be worth it.