Coming home is lovely, but it has its challenges. I’m not particularly good with transitions anyway – once in a groove, I like to stay there! And from an access perspective, I am much better at meeting my daily needs without help when I am on the boat. The boat is so much smaller than my apartment, and everything is within reach. Going outdoors in AUKLET involves moving about 3 feet from my usual spot indoors, and virtually no walking. It’s easy.
At home, to achieve the same goal often involves adaptive equipment, and help. Not to press the point, but it’s not so easy. So much territory to be covered, from one location to the next!
So I am thinking about creatures who carry their homes on their backs, carefully built and perfectly adapted. The thing is, most of them are permanent residents. Snails don’t leave their shells willingly, and fare badly, if they do. And crabs and lobsters shed, but the soft new shell is immediately underway, from the inside out.
I, on the other hand, have been carefully fitting a perfect floating home, with which it is possible to travel endless distances, and to stay in place for weeks if I wish, all the while maintaining food, water, and assorted other basic needs on my own. And then, willingly, I have separated myself from that shell and placed myself on dry land. In spite of the fact that the change in mobility is about equivalent to that of a seal making the same transition. Lithe and elegant in water; awkward, slow, and limited on solid ground.
There are good reasons to be on land – central heating, for one! And dear companions, and the sweet earth. But I’m reminded of hermit crabs. Periodically they decide to move. They loosen the tight grip of their soft curled tails, abandoning one found shell for another. And I wonder: do they get annoyed at the uncomfortable fit, when they first move in to the new one? How stressful is it, while between homes, soft, and awkward, and so undefended. It’s those transitions that get you. And now, here I am: re-adapting to the contours and corners that were so very comfortable just a few months ago!
In the driveway, this morning I climbed into the boat. Already half unpacked, it is no longer a seamless fit – and of course, the water is missing. But it was comforting, to move in that small space. And I look forward to doing it again.
A person might read this and think: so why leave, why not sail south, and avoid that pesky transition altogether? But the earth calls, and the relaxation that comes with setting aside that constant vigilance that is a big part of “good seamanship.” I do treasure this time when it doesn’t matter if I listen to another weather report, when anchor lines, or dock lines, do not need to be watched for chafe, when rigging is safe in the driveway, or the garage. I’m not as mobile at home, but once I get reacquainted with those household contours, they have their own coziness, and it’s nice to relax into a winter on land, watching the hillsides go brilliant, and then the drifting snow.