Itâs become profoundly clear that weâll never be normal again. Is it unsettling? A little. We were a poster family for Normal, and utterly happy. Sitting in Totemâs cockpit from our mooring in the Mystic River, looking towards Noank in the fading light, that normal lifeâand the security that came with itâis lost to us.
The feeling germinates being back in aÂ sped-up world, where thereâs more of a rush to the finish than an appreciation for whatâs around. Close traffic, fast cars. Foul language over the VHF, disrespect for rules of the road. We have fallen out of sync with our routines on board for learning, writing, taking care of Totem, and taking care of ourselves.Â If it werenât for the steady stream of family and friends weâre sharing these weeks with Iâd probably feel thrown off balance.
A couple of thought provoking conversations drive the feeling home. Weâve had a few interviews in the last couple of weeks and I appreciate how theyâve pushed us to better understand the space between us now, and us before. Iâm not sure how to articulate it yet, but keep trying! Part of the difference is how weâve embraced the loss of security. Iâll recount our early years, saying âwhen we ran out of money the first time, we stopped in Australia.â Just the idea that we might be willing to do this is anathema to our old selves. But it wasnât going to kill us, and it did make us stronger. Our worries and priorities shifted.
âTell me about places where youâve seen environmental devastation?â comes one question, followed with, âand what about places of hope?â One of our early goals was to help the kids appreciate our human impact on the world. This is accomplished in spades, but to what end? We can share a litany of examples to answer the former question, but relatively few for the latter. Weâre back in the middle of a consumption-driven society that seems namelessly behind so much of the imbalance we experienced between humans and our environment, and it screams at me, but there seems to be little recognition of our collective responsibility. Changed as we are by what weâve seen, it is now anathema to re-enter the culture we once claimed.
Two cruising families in two weeks have intersected with our crew, buoying us. One has been back a year: the former crew of Daphne offer a sounding board and a lifeline. Theyâre proof you can pass, for a while at least, and find a way forward. Hearing their stories, sharing ours, helps center me again.
We see with the kids from these cruising families how that much-feared question of socialization plays out in practice. The awkward gaps of conversation in meeting fade quickly. With each family, it only takes minutes for the kids to make their way from the neutral meeting zone of the cockpit to the table in the main cabin down below. They are playing cards, sharing music, and laughing uproariously in minutes. None of them are owned by a little screen somewhere nearby, dropping bits of pixie dust to an irresistible lure away from genuine human interaction.
Busy weeks of exploring and experiencing the USA again are slowing down, and ready for reflection and context. One clear sign that “cruiser normal” is returning is thatÂ thereâs time again to resume our routines. Exhibit A: the kidsâ computer is back in action after a long haitus for repair, and Niall spent the morning helping his sisters with math lessons.
Jamie spent the morning working on the watermaker, and cleaning some apawling (ba dump bump, bad sailor pun) winches.
Balance is found, for now. Itâs supported by the company with like-minded humans who recognize weâre not crazy for walking away from our secure, safe lives.
âBecoming a parent wrecks your lifeâ¦for the better.â This was the sage advice of my cousin when I was pregnant with Niall. While we couldnât quite grok it at the time, he was right. Your life is profoundly impacted, and the lens through which you see the world is forever shifted. Cruising is much the same: our lives, as we knew them, are wrecked. Thereâs no going back to before. Looking at how itâs changed us and shaped our kids, we wouldnât have it any other way.