Sunday, October 22, 2006

Yup, we're still here.

Our departure date keeps getting pushed back, and it’s driving me a little crazy. I keep holding off, thinking that my next post will be from the boat, as we’re sailing, or at least all ready to leave, but I’m still here, at Karl’s mom’s, waiting. It’s one thing after another after another. Every day I wake up, thinking, “today’s going to be the day!” And it’s not. Not yet. Maybe today. But I doubt it.

The thing that’s been holding us up this time is the propane system. Karl’s brother (a plumber) went out on Sunday with Karl to try to set it up, and allegedly there was a fire. They came home and told me this and I thought they were joking. The teak and holly, which Karl worked so hard on this winter, was scorched. I was devastated, and angry, but Karl acted like it was no big deal, like he didn’t care. I just feel like they must have been careless, to let something like this happen, or that Karl’s brother can’t have been as careful as just Karl would have been in the same situation. I mean, this boat is ours. The only thing we own in the world. Fires are not in the program.

I haven’t seen the damage yet, and I’m waiting for Karl right now to head out to the boat, with yet another load. We have six extraneous sails to fit on the boat somewhere. These seem essential, like something we shouldn’t leave behind at any cost, but where are we going to put them? There’s also about three boxes of miscellaneous paint, paint varnish, epoxy, fiberglass filler, fiberglass cloth, and paint thinner. We haven’t even started working on where we’re going to put all of Karl’s tools. And these are things we have to have on board, because we have to be able to fix the boat if it breaks.

I keep going to the boat and devotedly putting things away, and the next time I go, Karl’s done more work and it’s all ripped apart again. I’m doing my best not to be frustrated with him, but we’re both impatient, on edge, and at each other’s throats. Imagine moving all of your belongings into a new apartment—that happens to be 33’ by 9’. Good luck, right? Our perspectives differ completely on what we’re allowed to bring, too. In my mind, we’re setting up a home for us to live in comfortably for a long time. In his, the boat is nothing more than a glorified backpack.

Our perspective on the food differs completely, too. In my mind, the $300 worth of canned goods that we bought are a backup, in case we get stranded at sea or on a desert island, we have enough food to live for several months, with the supplement of fish and coconuts. I don’t want to live off fruit cocktail and evaporated milk for our entire coastal sojourn. In fact, if we do that, I’m convinced we’ll end up eating out ninety percent of the time, because neither of us are going to be happy. If we use the canned food to supplement the fresh food that we buy more or less weekly, we can cook and eat like we live in a normal household, and avoid spending money on restaurants. But in his mind, it’s a waste of money and fuel to buy any more food than we’ve already bought. And if we put any extra weight on the boat, it’s going to sink.

Maybe these are normal disputes to be having. Maybe my emphasis is too much on comfort. The root of the conflict in our relationship has always been happiness. Karl thinks I need things in my life to make me happy, instead of having happiness come solely from my inner being. Which is all well and good, but would anyone be happy if forced to eat mushrooms and mustard for three months straight? No matter how Zen they are? You can have internal happiness inside a concentration camp, but that doesn’t mean that anyone would choose to live in those conditions. Except Karl, evidently.

I keep returning to the Japanese art of feng shui, about which I know nothing, I should probably confess. But my idea of feng shui is that my surroundings are important, and have a connection to my spiritual being. One needs to align the things in one’s life in order to maximize one’s connection to the world of the spirit. Things are not just things. Our spirits do not just exist in isolation from our bodies. Our bodies and their comfort are important—no, vital, to our spiritual wellbeing. And our bodies don’t just become happy by themselves. We have to work on creating for ourselves space that cultivates the spirit. This is why people who meditate, or do yoga, or whatever, have places in their lives that they carve out, where things have spiritual resonance and meaning. I want that for our boat. The boat has that potential. But if we have epoxy falling out on our heads and jars of olive oil breaking and are sleeping next to sails, it’s not going to work.

I don’t mean to complain about Karl, because I love him and I wouldn’t be doing this with anyone else. I’m sure both of us are right, in some ways. I’m probably trying to bring too many things that tie me to home, and he’s probably trying to bring too few. I emphasize the importance of comfort too much, and he not enough. But we’re both strained almost to the breaking point right now. We’ve put off our departure for the fourth time now, and it gets colder and colder, and we get more and more frustrated.

We’re trying not to take the stress out on each other, but it’s inevitable, to some degree. I emailed all of my friends and family saying that we were leaving the 21st, the two-year anniversary of our Katahdin summit on the Appalachian Trail. We had a going-away party on Friday night with all of our friends, telling them we were leaving the next day. We said goodbye to Karl’s nephews, although I don’t think they really grasped the concept. And we’re STILL here. The kids show up again today. What are we going to tell them? This is getting to the point of ridiculous. I’m embarrassed to still be here. But there’s nothing to be done about it except keep plugging away.


Krista said...

I can understand your fustration Melissa and Karl, but I'm sure that you guys will leave when the time is right. Maybe someone just has a different way of telling you 'just not yet.' Dont get all your hopes down. There will come a time when you guys are sailing out of Marion Harbor knowing it's going to be a while before you two venture back into it. Good luck on your journey guys I love you both.

Rand said...

I end up packing too much even when I'm doing an overnighter. Soon enough you'll be on your way. Hang in there.