Going Back

Over the last 18 months, we’ve been thinking a lot about what it means to be going back. As we prepared to depart Seattle, we wondered when we’d be going back there again. Our possessions were divvied accordingly. We faced a similar uncertainty when we left California as to when we’d return for those things we couldn’t fit in Serenity. Throughout the trip, we made decisions on where to visit based on the knowledge that it might be many years before we could go back, if we ever made it back at all.

Before we knew it, our voyage was over and we were going back. But can you really go back to somewhere you’ve never been? Sure, we spent a short weekend in Honolulu ten years ago, but for all intents and purposes, we arrived at a new city. For the last few months, we’ve been going back to ‘normal’ life, or at least out of cruiser mode. We go back to visit friends and family on the mainland as much as we can. We’ve gone back to paychecks and electric bills and this strange thing called getting mail. Back to ubiquitous internet and communication, to beds that hold still at night, and to city life full of fluent English speakers.

The biggest question still remains: When will we go back to cruising? The answer is: we don’t know, but not anytime soon. Even if we rushed to save up and prepare, it would be many years before it could become a reality. So in the meanwhile, we will go back to the land. We will search Hawaii for a place to call home, a place we will cherish going back to. Maybe we’ll only go back for a little, or maybe we’ll return to being landlubbers forever. Whoever we are and become in the future will get to make that decision.

What that means is that we are selling Serenity. The listing can be found on YachtWorld. Keeping a boat on any Hawaiian island is expensive and inconvenient at best. The higher cost of living in general adds to the difficulty. It wasn’t an easy decision to come to, and the parting will be thoroughly bittersweet. Besides all the upgrades we made to turn her into a reliable, blue water cruising vessel, she will be forever imbued with the happy memories of every adventurous moment we’ve had on board.

But in the end, it is going back to those memories that will be the salve to carry us forward and inspire future journeys. As with a first love, our first boat will always be anchored in our hearts by many fond recollections. And although our horizon has changed shape and holds as much uncertainty as ever, we find familiarity at every turn. We’ve gone back to tropical islands full of coconut palms, coral reefs in clear turquoise water, and the endless summer weather that we grew to love during our travels. In addition, the spirit of Aloha that first drew us to Hawaii long ago is already making the islands start to feel like home. So maybe, in a way, we are not so much going back. Perhaps we just never left.

What Next? (2010-04-15)

When I decided I wanted to visit Indonesia one of my reasons was to force myself to cut all the ties that keep me bound to one place, not just geographically but mentally as well. It’s not that those things: a job, a lease, a bedroom set and pull out couch, stereo system and closet full of junk, monthly stylist appointment and magazine subscriptions; are bad things. They’re not. It’s just that they make it easy to forget why you’re doing what you’re doing. The path of least apparent resistance tends to be the most attractive. But then you end up some years down the line asking yourself "what am I doing here" and feeling completely trapped by all those things, and more, instead of saying "I can’t believe I’m in a tiny village in western Java where I have a perfect surf spot nearly to myself every morning and help locals with their English in the afternoon," and feeling absolutely great about the adventure that brought you there.

But you can’t just live your life going from one tropical island adventure to the next, can you? Which is why my next reason was to spend time thinking about what I should do next with my life. The thing that I keep coming back to is: How do I make every day until the day I die part of one great adventure? And I don’t mean for every day to be happy and care free. Adventures have their ups and downs, their excitements and boredoms, triumphs and tragedy; working for a startup, for example, was an adventure.

This is as far as my contemplation has brought me. A question, but a question to which the remainder of my life will be the answer. An answer lived a day at a time, seizing every moment, always taking the path less travelled instead of least resistance, and never forgetting what a wonderful journey it has been.