The transition back to boat life has been generally uncomplicated. I am much better for having been away – despite the shingles, the traffic violations and having lost oneself in the woods. I returned intact. There were suggestions from other (largely non-boat dwelling) people that spending eight weeks away in a land of hot water, dishwashers, Bob the Jeep, washing machines, a beautiful house and an apartment in the West Village (when required) might make it tricky to return to the (mostly) cold water floating cubby…
But seriously, it’s not that I don’t like where I live. In the past I have been in the situation where the house I was living in was not somewhere I wanted to come back to after several enjoyable days away. I would morph into a sad grey lump and make pathetic plans to escape… (eventually one of these plans was less pathetic than the rest). However, I like boat life. I like that we now have no looming deadlines (fanging up the coast from Tasmania in order to install M and the Smalls in a safe Yamba anchorage was not completely idyllic), but what I have realised from my time away is this;
My internal vessel holding my essential spark was sapped. Out of juice. Zero solitude, eleven years of parenting, nine years of boat building, being unwell for so long and not realising, enduring the loss of my dad – basically holding it all together… In retrospect feel like I stepped on to that aeroplane and my whole being let go of the reins that I’d hardly been aware of gripping. Not that I had any realisation of this – my flights were fine, I was totally excited to see SB and his fantastic house. My body, on the other hand, decided that it could safely freak out – and for over a fortnight I was more trashed than I have ever been.
None of this occurred to me as a thought process, it was only when I was writing to my friend Ford St Clair (his nom de plume) in Tasmania that a version of the previous paragraph flowed out from my fingers. I re-read it, and understood. Didn’t make the shingles any easier to bear, but I realised they had not appeared (as I had presumed) out of nowhere. At this point, let me make a suggestion to any of you that might have had childhood chickenpox – get the fucking vaccination. There are not many people out there I would wish shingles upon – ongoing intractable pain that worsens at night, along with zero appetite and massive fatigue. It felt like all my lower left ribs had been kicked hard.
At its worst, ibuprofen didn’t touch it, and all I could do was pace the house through the night until I was finally exhausted enough to sleep. It was awful. There were tears. By the time I was due to return to Australia I felt like I had only had one properly functional week – I literally took a poll via Instagram and FB as to whether or not to haemorrhage the cash to adjust the three flights needed to get me back. Screens said “YES”. I stayed on, and am so glad I did.
I had no qualms about the Smalls – M was having a great time being the Single-Parent-Who-Rejoices-In-Not-Having-To-Negotiate-With-Another-Adult-Ever-About-Anything. He was flying solo and loving it. As was I. It was all good. Extending my stay meant that when I did come back, it felt like the right time. SB has since reported that I wouldn’t like it over there now anyway – the weather has hit the point of humidity that renders me incapable.
Back on the boat, it feels like my normal. Keeping an eye on the water gauges, anchoring, remembering the importance of the Windy app in our lives. My only objection is to the over-abundance of craptastic GF bread that appears to have invaded in my absence. But it all feels a bit easier.
I have caught up with Yamba friends and Pandion who have returned to a land-based life. We have been making plans for heading north when the weather co-operates. M and the Smalls have been surfing, and we’ve all been for a paddle on a combination of kayak and two paddleboards. It was good to get away, but it’s good to be back..