Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Money doesn't change a thing

Chattanooga, Tennessee

What is it about traveling that makes me want to write? It’s only when I’m traveling that I feel like I’m living. Being static in a place is entering stasis: I cease to be able to function. I’ve always said that I’m happiest when I sleep in a different bed every night. It’s the truth, sadly. I don’t know why it is I can’t be content when I’m stationary.

Maybe the dorm did it, how we had to change rooms and roommates every quarter, carefully packing up our clothes and toiletries and moving to another room down the hall, with a new closet, a new bed, a new comforter. Kids are adaptive, they say. So now I have to have a new space about every fifteen weeks, or I start clawing my face off. No wonder my favorite thing about sailing is having a home that moves. My bed can stay the same, but my view can change. It’s perfect.

Now I’m slowly emerging from my winter cave, coming out of hibernation, finding out how to take the next step, move on to my new place. I’ve been trying to figure out how to break my big news to the assembled public without risking jinxing it, similar to the way I was unwilling to start my Appalachian Trail journal before I actually took my first step. Tomorrow I fly from Chattanooga to Boston, and ten days from now I fly to Nassau. By myself.

What am I feeling? Sheer, abject terror.

I still don’t quite know why I feel the need to go. Maybe it has something to do with Secret being my only earthly possession and my only financial asset. Maybe it’s my endless longing for something new, some new adventure, a new superhuman challenge for which I am anything but prepared. Maybe it’s wanting to finally have some time to myself, and where better than off the coast of a deserted island? Or maybe it’s just wanting something good to come out of this disaster.

There are still many details to be worked out. As of right now, my plan involves getting off the plane on Colonel Hill, and, if all else fails, walking to the Church Grove dock and rowing the dinghy, with my stacks of gear, the seven miles to the boat. I hope those who were my friends will still be my friends, and I can at least hitchhike, but this I know: I have legs. I have arms. I’ve walked 3000 miles. I can make it to my boat.

That is, after all, what this adventure is all about--self-reliance. Autonomy. I’ve been accused in the last four months of being self-pitying, of acting like a victim, of blaming my problems on others rather than taking responsibility for them myself. So I’m stepping out, and I’m taking a risk. My current mantra is, “leap, and the net will appear.”

When we left Marion last time I wrote about how happy I was to be leaving it in my wake, which wounded some people. It's not that I don't love this country, or my friends and family, it's just this is so, so where I don't want to be. I want to be with Secret. I’ve wanted to be with Secret for months now. The question has been do I want to be with Karl or with Secret more? I know long-term I don't have to choose between the two, but the process of doing all of the repairs and sailing may take months. Do I want to spend that time away from Karl? And do I really have the courage to do that by myself?

I still don’t know, but I’m following my path as well as I know how, and I pray that my faith will be rewarded.


Ellen, John & Sophia said...

can't wait to hear what comes next. get her to key largo and we'll help you get anywhere!! it will be worth it, as terrifying as it might seem.

rling said...

Sitting here wondering if you went, and if so, what the prospects are for sailing Secret home...being a guy (guys are always trying to figure out what the problem is and how to solve it) the latter is the big question. I have a lot of reading to do so I can understand why/how the boat became an issue. But it's good reading!

Amy L said...

Good luck, congratulations, bon voyage, or whatever the appropriate comment is. I'm nervous and excited for you!

Emily said...

Good luck, Melissa -- this sounds like a real adventure! Hope Karl is well. -Emily (A fellow 2005 PCT-er. I don't believe we've met.)

Anonymous said...

So tell us Mellisa, how is Karl? Ever you since you told us of his ailment I've been hoping to hear about his health.

Fair Winds

Melissa said...

Karl's doing well, improving weekly. But the kind of meningitis he contracted is likely to recur, and it is not wise for him to travel three days from medical care. Even I admit that. I'm hoping that he'll be able to join me once I get to Florida, but we'll see.