Sunday, December 23, 2007

Some Things Are Easier Than Others

Three years ago I was landed gentry. We owned a ten acre parcel of wooded beauty on Vashon Island. Actually, the bank owned it but we were on the right path towards gentrydom. Dr C had a vision – a dream really – to build a house in the woods. We went so far as to mortgage our souls and start looking for an architect.

The dirty little secret is that I loathed it. I loathed everything about Vashon, from the endless waits in the ferry line to the miserable slog up and down the cliff to get to the beach. The neighbors were snotty little pissants, and the regulatory climate for building in King County is about as restrictive as those traditionally reserved for historical monuments and archaeological digs. All along, I understood that enabling Dr C in this particular fantasy would result in a balance of labor something like this: Dr C would visit the construction site every weekend to invest his sweat and toil in nailing something or stringing an electrical line or digging a post hole. I would spend all day every day for nine months on site as a combination project manager/general contractor to ensure we didn't get our financial asses handed to us on a platter.

I hated the very idea of living in the woods. The property had lousy cell phone access and no Internet connectivity. A raccoon ate my macaw and a deer ate all my roses and peach trees. And one fine winter, a tree fell on our palatial two-room tent. I hate trees.

Then Dr C decided to sail away. Is it any surprise I leaped at the opportunity? The first words out of my mouth were something like, “Okay, Dean, but you get one dream, not two. You get the house in the woods or the boat. Which is it?” He wanted the boat. Praise be.

And Away We Go
And Away We Go
Originally uploaded by toastfloats.
Which found me several months later sitting on the beach of our property two days before the closing, waxing wistfully nostalgic for the death of all our construction plans. The sun was setting, turning the waters of Colvos Passage to burnished bronze and warming the air with the smells of cedar and crushed ferns. My children were in the woods, building fantasmagorical fairy palaces in the salal, their imprecations to do this or say that merging with the soft shush of the tide pulling tiny crabs and pebbles back into the Sound. For a brief moment, I came perilously close to regretting our decision.

At which point a 40' Beneteau sailing on a close reach up the passage, mostly riding the northbound tide in the light wind, brought me to my senses. Instead of owning one beach, I now owned a million. Instead of enjoying this single land-bound sunset, I would be spend many years witnessing the daily spectacle from the deck of my floating home. Instead of giving something up, we would multiply this single experience to infinity times five.

Most importantly, there are no raccoons on a boat. Some things are easier to give up than others.

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