Monday, May 19, 2014

Winding Down The Blog

Max and Samey playing at the pool in La Cruz Costa Baja Marina Beach Club
Dear The Blog, Please forgive me. I have neglected and abused you! I had never attempted a “relationship” of this sort before – one between me and my words/thoughts - and I proved to be undeniably unworthy. I have always abhorred diaries and journals and so I should have known that this “job” of keeping up with The Blog would prove to be just too challenging for me. I freaked about the exposure, the questioning of who would be reading my words and finding myself writing “for” specific people. I spent too much energy thinking about who would care about The Blog, how much or how little detail to include. Should I include just a few photos? Many? I languished in confusion about how my “message” would be received. Did I even have a clear message? Did I need one? These things lurked around me, burdening unnecessarily the process. I stressed about it too much. Cared too much? How, above all, to be honest and true to my experience and somehow escape scrutiny? If I was not writing it for me, was I sharing, showing, documenting, creating a timeline, or a record? At first, it was fun. I enjoyed sharing. Hey, this blogging thing was actually fun! My adored Scout Master Brian awarded me Merit Badges! Woohoo! But then, when I tried to maintain authenticity, I was blindsided by the reactions. I realized that sharing the “truth” of my experience was not in my power because the Truth is Powerful (reference Rebel Heart for case in point). Truly, who could possibly care to hear me go on and on about my personal struggles? Just tell us about your dang trip and leave the mind-wanderings out of it!  But then, as I slipped further and further into the adventure and away from my “usual life”, it became harder and harder to keep up with the documenting and the feeling of connection that I required to expend the energy. Hello out there! Is anyone listening? And the Internet  (or lack of it, rather) conspired against me, too. SO many amazing things have happened, so many beautiful things have been seen, so many wonderful (and not so wonderful people) have been met, so many feelings, so many  realizations, so many things to share and to conceal at the same time. After I had let a certain amount of time lapse, where did I start back up again? How could I find, as so many do, enough time to record consistently our every movement? Just as I find it hard to imagine that people find time to watch TV and not only that that they find time EVERY week at the same time to follow series, I just could not find enough time to devote to my blog. Not the way I wanted to or envisioned I would. And so I avoided it. Procrastinated. Made feeble attempts wherein I resorted to posting only photos. I was, however, a faithful photographer and did manage to take tons and tons of photos (not so many of me, though, I am afraid) so it is not that I do not intend or desire to keep a record of the trip. It is just that The Blog has suffered. And now we are less than two weeks away from leaving Mexico and the “cruising life” behind and flying home to Seattle. And I am finding my failure at The Blog to be an acute loss.

Having a little dinghy ride!
Snorkeling in Ensenada de la Raza
The astounding water color off Isla Espiritu Santo - the dinghy appears to be floating!
In retrospect, it has been one hell of an adventure. I feel really, really lucky to have been able to do this with my children. All three of them. They are incredible humans and to watch them these past 10 months as they have experienced this trip has been amazing. Each one unique and gifted in their own ways has struggled and exalted in the process. I find it incredible that a three-four year old and a eight-nine year old and a sixteen year old could all live together with two adults on a 42’ sailboat and come to experience it as some sort of normalcy. I've loved watching their relationships with each other change and grow. Max is such an incredible, fun, devoted big brother to Sam and such a despot with Ben! Poor sweet Ben who has never been vengeful or spiteful or injured with his big brother even when Max is relentless in his disdain. He just adores Max and wants his attention so badly. Max struggles to be kind and patient but, in the end, Ben is usually his "whipping boy". It is not malicious just frustration. It has not been easy for Max to be with us with not one peer in sight. Either the adults and their shenanigans or the kids and theirs. No teens at all. He does well with both sets but it has been trying for him, I know. Sam and Max and their relationship is one of the gifts of this trip. They never would have been able to spend as much time together in Seattle as they have had on the boat to bond and sit and be silly and "hang out". And Ben and Sam muddle through, competing for my attention, for Marcus' attention, but more and more they are finding fun in being just the two of them together watching movies or jumping around on the bench seats as Sam matures and is less "baby". They are all three so flawed and so perfect at the same time! I often find myself wondering what each of them will “take” from this experience and how it will shape or form their lives. What residual will be left for them after we revert back to our lives in Seattle and the Mexico we know becomes a vague memory. Will it be textures, colors, food, Spanish, sand, water, wind, space, heat, lack of clothing, lack of shoes, fishing, home-schooling, screen time, boat kids… the list goes on and on. How have their ideas of themselves and how they interact with the world changed? How has their vision of me changed? Do they know me better? How will they embrace their lives once we are back? People tell us that life just closes back up again over the “hole in time” and it becomes hard to even imagine that the trip even occurred in the first place. We talk about missing Seattle and what we miss all the time now in these last fews days. Ben is counting the days. Sam wants to see the “blue house” and Keegan, She wants to get her new bike with wheels and pedals. She has now outgrown her “scoot bike” having ridden it all over California and Mexico with much aplomb. Max wants to see and drive the car that his dad bought for him, to eat Pho and to be able to stand up straight in his bedroom without hitting his head. He is eager to get back to his friends and high school but knows he is going to miss the water and the snorkeling and the spearfishing that he loves so much here. Ben just wants to go to Yogurtland with Matthew and Cole Brown and their moms and also go to Blue C Sushi. Oh, and to play Minecraft with Matthew. Duh.
Princess kiddie pool on the foredeck with all her animals, Evaristo
Little Lady Captain
The other day as I sat at our table with the three kids, Max asked me what I was most looking forward to upon returning to Seattle and at first I was stumped. Of course, there are many things I miss (Asian food, NPR, driving, Trader Joe’s, doing my own laundry, sturdy bathrooms, human sized beds) but it is complicated for me. Am I really looking forward to going back? Not really. My “regular” life is complex and complicated. It involves a lot of “servicing” of others, a lot of running around. I have had a lot of time to reflect on my life as it was there in Seattle “before Mexico and cruising” during this trip and this time apart. I would say, with the perspective and distance gained on this trip, there are some things that require some fine-tuning and adjustment. I ended up telling Max that I was eager to get back to Seattle to help my brother with my parents (to help my mother specifically as she deals with my father’s dementia) and to accept that support role again that I have been “shirking” this past year. But that was a lame response. Truth be told, I don’t want to have to go back to all those “life” things. The burdens, the work, the responsibilities, the COMPLEXITY. I’d like to be strong enough to bring some of the simplicity of this life on the boat back to my life in Seattle and live more authentically, realistically, slowly, intentionally. But how to you explain that to a 16 year old whose evolving life unfurls before him full of beckonings and clatter? How do you explain to him that you want less not more? I think he would get it, though, as he’s an amazing soul. He’s proven that to me over and over during this trip. And he would and will whole-heartedly support me in my endeavors to “right my boat and steady my course”. 
Mother's Day in La Paz
Marcus, of course, is on a different path that the rest of us. He is preparing for the challenge of a lifetime: the challenge of taking our boat (not someone else’s) home to Seattle via Hawaii, a voyage which should take him two months with two separate crews (amazing people ALL of them and we are very lucky to have each and every one of them, I might add, but that is another story for another time). He is thinking constantly of the weather and safety and provisioning and Responsibility.  Not yet thinking about Seattle much, I don’t think. He is remarkably calm. I am glad NOT to be doing this leg of the trip with him. I am glad to leave him to that part of his dream year. Our friends on Sand Dollar are doing it right now as I type and I am proud of them and their courage. But I don’t envy them. I simply do not have the desire for that particular challenge. Three weeks at sea at a stretch sounds insanely daunting to me on my own let alone charged with the care of a toddler and two other children as well. Forget it. Alaska Airlines, take me home!

Me! With my beloved Julie Dillard and my Samey
Journal writing. Such a diligent (if not distracted) worker
Doing "her homework" too. Naked, of course.

We are currently at anchor off Isla Partida and Espiritu Santo near the southern tip of the Baja California. It just couldn’t be more stunningly beautiful. Desert, desolate, volcanic, red rocks, cactus everywhere. I wish I was a geologist. I am experiencing the beauty, I know that the rock formations are significant and impressive but I don’t know how to explain the gradations and the layering and the textures. Suffice to say they are incredible. The water is gradations of blues and greens that are not even describable. It is hot. Too hot to walk the decks without shoes on. We hide below while we do school and food and then venture out, covered in SPF clothing and hats and swimsuits and cool off in the incredible waters. The wind picks up in the afternoons and we cool down a little but if the sun catches you, even in the evening, you feel the burn. I continue in my love of hanging things to dry on the lifelines. I will miss that. Things dried in the sun. Ben has been “making salt” for the family by putting out a cookie tray with salt water and, after the sun evaporates the water, he scrapes it into a glass. We used it on our mashed potatoes tonight and he was proud to be “contributing” to our meal. It makes you a little crazy, though, this heat. Not sure I’d like to spend a summer in the Sea. People all told us about it but until now, it was hard to fathom. I’d come back, though, to the Sea of Cortex, to Mexico, to the mainland. I have grown to really love this country and I will miss it. We were much more than tourists, much less than locals or ex-pats. We know the coasts but not the inland areas. We’ve just begun to know the culture and language. Would I do it again you ask? Quite possibly. With different parameters, though. I have learned so many things. Would do so many things differently. However, I don’t feel we’ve made that many mistakes. We all did quite well, really. We rallied our strengths, carried our weaknesses and soldiered on with admirable grace and humor. And we’ve been lucky. Lucky in so many ways. All in all, if I failed at The Blog, I feel really good about what I brought to the year for us all. I may not know much about sailing but I know a heck of a lot and learned a heck of a lot about what it means to live on a boat while cruising for 10 months in Mexico with a family that includes small children. And it ain’t easy.

Max catches a fish! A Bonito. SO HANDSOME. (Max, I mean. Not the fish.)
Getting the lure out.
Mmmmm.... green Fun Dip from Grandma Marcia!

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