Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Last Call

This week we traveled to California to visit my parents. I’ve been making this semiannual trip to the Golden State for nearly 10 years. My father lives in Squaw Valley so winters draw us to days in the snow and on the ski slopes, summers see us on long walks in the hills and swimming at High Camp. Sacramento, where my mother lives, has river rafting, more swimming, millions of shopping errands with Grandma, and fantastic food. The girls live for these trips. So here we are on our last trip to California.

I confess that each trip to California I enjoy less than the previous. Oh the countryside is lovely and the stay with family wonderful, but the driving itself is the one activity which drives home to me the accrual of years. I can feel the age slide down my bones and pool in my joints during the endless miles down I-5.

At the risk of digressing, I’d like to point out to those Easterners reading this blog that the West Coast is very large. This is often a surprise to people raised on the Eastern Seaboard... it certainly was to the folks with whom I rode across the country. I think the problem originated from the idiot who named Ohio the “Mid West”. Somehow, it conveys the idea that driving out to visit MMORPG friends in Columbus is driving halfway across the country. However, if you’d just pull out the goddamn map and fold it in half, you would see that Ohio is a really good chunk to the right of the middle of the country. Once you grasp the basic principle that two thirds of the country is to the left of the mid West, you begin to get an inkling of how far it is from Seattle to Sacramento.

Self Portrait in Jersey Shore
Self Portrait on the Jersey Shore
Originally uploaded by ktoast
So I may not be all that sorry to kiss goodbye to the 28 hour round trip, but it brings home to me how many things recently seem to be a “last.” Last week was probably the last time I spent an evening partying with friends from my computer geek bad ass tech writer days. Before that was probably our last dinner at Noey’s house. Next week is definitely our last week at the Homeschool Resource Center, the last opportunity I’ll have to visit with two of my downtown clients in person, and the last time I’ll have to shlep Mom down to the airport to fly out of Seattle.

The girls are scheduling their last play dates and sleep overs, DrC is booking his last days doing LASIK, and I’m making up the last shopping list for Costco. Before the end of the month, we'll visit the dentist for the last time, get our hairs cut (all of them), and swing by the pediatrician for a last looksee and updated shots. I’m tempted to make a last run to Ikea, Target, and Joanne’s fabrics before DrC sells the car in two weeks. We’ll be busy, that’s for certain.

Self Portrait This Morning
Originally uploaded by ktoast
I keep trying to remind myself that we are not going on vacation. It’s not true that I’ll never step into a West Marine again; I just won’t be stepping into this one. And all wannabe cruisers hear the stories of boats gathering in big towns, renting a van, and making a pilgrimage to the local Costco in Acapulco. Everything we are giving up will be replaced.

Yet sometimes it seems like there is too much to let go of. We have already sold so much, stored or thrown away the rest. We’ve walked away from jobs, a beautiful house, all sorts of things things things. We don’t go to our YMCA or our favorite brew pub or the coffee shop I used to love, and we’ve had to change banks, grocery store, and library to ones closer to the boat. Now it's time to let go even of these cobbled together alternatives, and it really really hurts. I lie awake at night, and I’m not happy. This isn’t fun. This isn’t funny.

It’s exhausting. My mom told me I looked like hell when I arrived in Sacramento: tired, stressed out, and fat. We’re not particularly good with the little white lies in our family. She also said in the exasperated tone I think only mothers are capable of, “I’m looking forward to seeing you when you step off that damn boat in San Francisco this fall. You’re going to finally look rested.” We’ve come a long way when my hide-bound, land-based, neat freak of a bookkeeping mother imagines a week long ocean passage as a relief from the pressures of preparing for the cruising life.

In less than a month, we leave our homeport. We may not be ready, but we sure as hell are going to be done getting ready. The cruising life is not a vacation -- DrC and I know it will be as much work as our current lives if not more. But the biggest relief in those early weeks may be that instead of spending so much time on the last call, we’ll finally start doing things for the first time.


Anonymous said...

So enjoy your blog. We live aboard in Campbell River, BC in the Discovery Harbour Marina. If you stop here, we'd love to meet you and the family.
Patricia aboard the R-Tyme

Jody said...

I "heart" you for being so truthful.

We spent the weekend away on the boat with the 4 kids, and slept very little at anchor with SE winds blowing like stink. I imagine it gets easier and easier...but the truth is, if it were just Bill and I, the anxiety would be so much less.

I don't know you, save for your blog, but I am hopeful that the transition to life offshore is kind to you, and that one day your coming adventure will be one you can look back on and say "I don't want it to end".

Hugs as you count down the month.

Toast said...

@anonymous - By all means drop me an email with your location. We love meeting folks or we wouldn't be doing this ;) Email welcome at floats-2 at toastworks dot org.

@Jody - From your keyboard to the ears of the godz. And I think it will, actually... It's just that leaving is hard. Pretending it isn't didn't work for me. Heh.