Thursday, August 29, 2013

The True Cost of Cruising

Two Daughters and five grand kids . . . today was the day we said the rest of the hard good-byes. I was doing okay right through the day, playing, reading books, explaining to the two oldest girls why we were staying at a marina they had never visited and then explaining about travel lifts and trucks. But at the end of the day, just when it looked like I might hold it together the youngest, with no clue what he was about to do to my heart, crawled to my feet, held his arms up to be lifted, then tucked his face into my shoulder . . . 

There is no explanation for the wanderer's soul. There is no cure for wanderlust. I have been unhappy being in one place since (so I am told anyway) my first day of first grade. Less than an hour of being penned in one room and I had had enough. The twelve years that followed, all in the same school district, were pure misery. It showed in my grades, in my list of detentions, in the fights and the brushes with police. I was that kid none of the other kids were allowed to hang out with. Quite literally, they let me out after my Senior year because no one wanted to see me there again.

The two years of technical school were a slight improvement; partly because I was the kid right out of high school in a class mostly made up of people recently out of the jungles of 'Nam. They were a tough lot, several more than a little crazy, many of whom took a liking to the combative kid who (I now suspect) reminded them of themselves before someone started shooting at them. It also helped that only half our day was spent in a classroom; the other half we spent out in the shop. Still penned in, but better than a desk. To this day, no one knows how often I dreamed of just walking away from that place and how close I came to doing it . . . the future I hoped to share with Deb being the only thing that kept me going back.

They let us "graduate" a few weeks early to fill jobs rebuilding B-52s. Deb and I headed west and never looked back. We spent 4 years in one place, 14 in another, 2 in a third, then landed in St. Louis. But we wandered constantly: me as a pilot, both of us as bikers. And no place ever felt like a "home," just a town with a job.

Now, finally, we are on the verge of heading off again; this time for a wanderer's dream come true. No place is home, but anywhere can be our front yard. The challenge of new skills to learn, the lure of new places to see, experiencing life in a way unsuspected just six years ago, and no one can tell us we have to "stay here and do this." But the dream has a price just shy of being too high . . . a price no one but a wanderer would even think about paying.

We like to say that there is no choice, that the wanderer wouldn't be the person he or she is if they could stop. Perhaps that is true. We are going, after all. But I like to think that the price will be a fair one. That in the end the people we love who don't wander with us love us anyway; that they share our adventures and find a larger view of the world. That, in the end, the stories of our lives will be full, even if the main characters in our hearts are not written into every page.

For that is the true cost of cruising.


Amber said...

We are incredibly happy for you and hope this adventure is everything you expect and much more.

We are incredibly sad that we will be missing your presence in our daily lives.

And those two things will just have to live in juxtaposition, as I doubt either will change.

Robert Salnick said...

Wow - that is so well written, and very moving.

Fair winds, guys

s/v Eolian

Unknown said...

Well said!

John Frederick

Latitude 43 said...

Very good. Nice post.

Bill said...

I am currently trying to talk the mother of my Goddaughter into letting us homeschool her for a year in her teens and take her abroad. Alas, Mom is a teecher and fully committed to the public-industrial-education-complex. We are likely only to get her for a summer.

But if you're really attached, you might be able to get the loan of one or more grandchildren as crew, if they're up for the adventure.

Deb said...

@Bill - We sincerely hope to have that pleasure some day when they get a little older. At the moment they range from age 7 to age 1 and that's just a tiny bit young for the moms and dads to let us have them for any extended period. We are at least going to have some time to spend with two of our grandkids this summer as the oldest daughter and family just bought a boat of their own to live on. Look for some posts in the future regarding this upcoming adventure.

walker said...

Nice post!