A year ago September, I caught sea-fever. Big time. A beautiful ceremony for departed loved ones in the Santa Barbara Bay left me with a driving passion to sail around the world! Always one to explore, I headed down into the living quarters of the sailboat we had hired for the ceremony and bam! Instant wanderlust! I could almost hear the adventurous spirits of those we celebrated that day saying, “Life is too short! Go for it!”
This obsession became so pronounced, I soon had it all worked out in my head. 1. We homeschool anyway–what better way to educate our kids? 2. Our mortgage is so high, this way, we sell our house, buy a liveable, sea-worthy craft, and build up income by closing up the black hole of mortgage payments. 3. We could blog, even post videos about our travels and, combined with my (unpublished) books work up enough to make ends meet. 4. Six months or so ought to be enough time to unplug, have our adventure-of-a-lifetime and then come back to land, buy with a lower mortgage–and so on.
This dream excited and motivated me, helping to distract from some heavy challenges that were going on and giving me a mental/spiritual vacation any time I turned my thoughts that direction.
I reviewed the articles I had seen about a family who had spent seven years sailing around the world and had just “come ashore” due to their oldest child attending college. Their tales of adventure in Africa and New Zealand set my imagination soaring until I could smell the salt air, feel the brisk breeze and even the gentle rocking motion of the boat as I fell to sleep at night. I began researching like crazy–after all, we weren’t getting any younger and the time to do something so “outside the box” was NOW!
For weeks on end, every spare moment (and many “not so spare”) would find me pouring over boat sale ads online, reviewing countless pics of affordable and not-affordable boats, learning terms and researching tactics for achieving a happy floating lifestyle. It was a new frontier for me, an unexplored culture that was existing right under my nose.
Even as I write this, I feel the longing of those days wash over me. There was, and is, something so wooing about the thought of living life floating from port to port, catching supper on a fishing line, and exploring nooks of the world most people cannot even imagine. I dreamed of emerging from our world excursion with multi-lingual kids whose horizons were absolutely unlimited.
I even set my sights on our new abode, a gorgeous 47′ ketch (new term I learned for a two-masted sailing vessel) with the romantic name “The Black Pearl.”I won’t torture myself by posting pics of the interior–suffice it to say… double bunks for kids’ rooms, portholes, lots of burnished wood, cute brass fittings… heavy sigh. Seriously, there would even have been room for visiting friends.
My awesome hubby was wonderful through the whole process of emailing pics of possible boats back and forth and going to check out several contenders–even though he has a history of nausea on the high seas. Now that’s love! Our kids, meanwhile, enjoyed every excuse to visit the coast and joined in my daydream discussions with gusto. In fact, we had jokingly referred to the dream boat as “The Black Pearl” before we had even seen a picture that revealed its name. Surely that was a sign from God!
Mark and I went so far as to check out possible lower-priced housing options so that we could retain a home on land even as we learned the ropes of sailing.
That’s where the surprise benefit of this dream-quest appeared.
As peeps who know me well can attest, one of my favorite things in the whole world is old barns. In the Frazier Park area, as the sun was beginning to set on a long day of fruitless searching, we stopped by one last home. We pulled up and I gasped, “It looks like a red barn!” There were no fliers in the little realty-box thingie so, being giddy and spontaneous, I decided to approach the front door and ask if more were available.
The door was opened by an adorable red-haired woman named Paulette, who was accompanied by two cute chihuahuas (I’d never before attached “cute” to “chihuahua” but these guys deserved it). In no time at all, she had assessed me and my then-10-yr-old son and decided to invite us in for a tour. I was absolutely charmed by the house with it’s high, wooden beams, stone fireplace and burnished-wood banister that curved around one end of the main room and continued old-west-saloon-style across the bedroom landing above.
I told our hostess I should probably let my husband and kids in the van know all was well and she didn’t miss a beat inviting the whole fam in to ooh, ah and explore.
As we drove away that day, my husband and I were dazed by a sense of “coming-home-to-Grandma’s-house-on-Christmas-morning-with-a-scent-of-yumminess-in-the-air.” We were convinced we had found our future home–the way we were going to make this whole dream of living on the high seas a reality.
But that’s not the way it worked. With the sucky realty economy we soon realized we could only proceed with purchasing if we first sold our slightly upside-down abode (short-sale) or rented it out while we assumed another mortgage–not a wise course.
With a heartrending screech, our high-seas dreams came to an impasse. The topic wasn’t totally off the table, it was just indefinitely postponed.
Soon, the winds changed; I found a good option for publishing, our oldest son began exploring the possibility of attending a Bible college in Austria for a semester; my husband had an exciting possibility for better employment–in other words, new horizons.
As the months passed, I would sometimes open those pics of “The Black Pearl” and think, “What the heck, God? Were You just messin’ with me?” On occasion, I would even wonder if I had been “tempted” or seduced by the “Hakuna Matata” lifestyle.
Okay, so I’m not so “over it.” Still brings a lump to my throat.
Have you ever had a dream, a passion, even a person, that helped you through a tough time, and was, in many ways, a lifeline through life’s storms until, one fine day, God said to release it/them? Well, this was one of those times.
To top it off, God was quiet on the issue. He didn’t wipe out the longing, He just made it obvious where our energies needed to be aimed and gave inspiration and guidance along those lines.
Just a couple days ago, the kids and I headed through the mountain pass on our way for a visit with Miss Paulette who is about to move closer to family in Arizona. As always, it was like coming home to Grandma’s house on Christmas morning. We snuggled with her dogs, nicknamed “Pistol” and “Perfect,” wandered through the upstairs rooms, plucked at the keys on her piano and even discovered a couple very contented raccoons in her backyard craft building.
Paulette and I chatted about how she misses her mother, about my new book and numerous other subjects with the familiarity and ease usually reserved for long talks with my sister. It’s very uncanny, even a bit disconcerting, how someone I sort of stumbled upon in pursuit of a dream has become such a precious friend. We laughingly figured our dear departed family members had gotten acquainted in heaven and arranged for us to meet. It’s the only way I’ve found to describe the constant inner hug I sense when I enter Paulette’s home.
Isn’t it just like God to get us headed in a particular direction, our eyes hungrily searching the horizon for that pot-o-gold, only to open our eyes to treasure as He sees it, the treasure of a life-long friend.
For now, Hakuna Matata must wait, but I have a little chunk of paradise in my heart. Not even a sunny beach or gently-lapping waves against the bow of a ship could make communion with a kindred spirit any sweeter. In fact, being surrounded by life in all it’s messy chaos makes me treasure it that much more.