Senioritis

I’m not sure why I’m not good at holding onto a job. Never wanted one badly enough I guess. Always found something better to do.

“But you gotta pay to play, sister,” my sailing mate said to me the other day. It was the first time I’d seen him since the summer passed. The first time on land. When I ran into another sailing friend a few weeks prior, it felt surreal. When I knew those dudes was another life. One far from how I’m living now.

But it’s good. Mild stability is good. Although I’m careful not to become too comfortable, or reliant, on having this warm little room on these vast 14 acres.

I have my hand in too many different things. I’m writing regularly for a hard hitting news publication. I’m trying to prep for the upcoming growing season. I’m trying to manage my stress, my relationships, my time. I’m carving a piece of wood. I don’t even know why, just decided I was going to start and finish it, damn it.  I booked a trip to Central America on a day I felt far too overwhelmed with my responsibilities. Thought maybe going to stare into the ocean and eat coconuts might help me get my priorities straight.

My boat calls to me. She’s finally thawing out and I’m finally getting around to visiting her. I’ve got a small cabinet project to complete, an install of some deck hardware, some washing, waxing, painting and she’s splashed. She’ll be on a mooring ball two miles from the farm where I’m living and working to grow my own food.

Some people are far more ambitious than I am. In my mind I’ve put in my time. I wrote enough articles to pay for my mooring ball, my projects, and to have a little left over. All the while I got to rub shoulders with Bernie Sanders!

But despite the mild success I’m finding here on land as a journalist, it’s my paid work–not my life’s work. I consider my fiscal year complete, or at least put on hold, until my winter storage fees are looming.

Like my favorite uncle said, “what’s the point of being a free spirit in a world of deadlines?”

Now I just have to figure out a way to tell that to my boss

Landlocked

Early September

I went back to the boat today for the first time since she’s been hauled. Other than a short drive by, we haven’t seen much of each other. She has a fine spirit, one I feel mostly while I’m inside her cabin. But in so many ways she’s so wrong. So basic. So rudimentary. Bare bones.

I’m not an artist or a craftswoman when it comes to boats. I cannot turn her into the restored vessel she could be. Rather, I’m not sure I want to. 

I’m afraid I’ve fallen out of love with her lines. Maybe she was only right for me for the lake…

sailing lake champlain

It’s hard to believe it’s been over three months since I was charging through Cumberland Straits with Jeff and Danimal on the Space Station for the annual 75 mile McDonough race. How I convinced them one night after far too many beers that we should do it. How I nearly bragged to my harbor mates about the 25 knot sustained wind prediction. How our spinnaker fouled on the start. How the halyard snapped not long after. How the we ran aground off Nichol’s Point and cracked the daggerboard right off. How my mate’s words were echoing in my head as it happened. “Nichol’s Point. Badlands.” How it was now blowing a consistent 30 kts and we had to beat our way home into 6-8 foot waves on a trimaran with no ballast, and no daggerboard. “The beatings will continue,” was no longer a joke we said when someone didn’t tie a proper cleat.

How we reached the straits and only had two choices: go back and seek shelter, or continue on and seek shelter. There was nothing in between. I’m sitting in the doghouse watching Danimal’s face as he tries to keep us pointed as high as possible. We have a double reefed main and a tiny bit of jib. Another wave crashes over the yama. “SHELTER,” he says. “We need shelter.” Which we found, finally, in a swamp just off the Plattsburgh Boat Basin, where we run aground again before tying up to the town dock next to two revolutionary war re-enactment row boats.

When we get back to our home port, everyone is going back to their houses–and I’m going back to the little cabin of my boat. They wait for me to row my dinghy to shore. Looking at my boat, elegantly poaching a mooring ball, I say, “It’s funny–after all that you guys are going back to land and I’m not.”

“Of course you’re not,” Danimal says. “You’re a mermaid.”

Peering through the window

When I was a kid and I looked out my living room window I’d get depressed. I saw the same maple tree in the neighbors yard, year after year. Its lush and green leaves would always fade to yellow before they finally fell to the ground, leaving the tree naked against a grey winter sky. DSC_0296I didn’t know it then, rather the thought never occurred to me why, but it consistently made me sad. It would catch me off guard. I’d be watching television or eating a sandwich,  I’d look up and there it was. That same tree. I’d peer out the window until a subtle, gnawing anguish would break my stare (consequently I had an AIM screen name when I was 12 called “peeringthruthewindow”).
IMG_1357I’m 26 these days and only now can I recall that feeling and put words to it, “how long before I can leave this place?”
HPIM7689Since life has forced me into adulthood I know a little more about myself, but I still can’t explain why I do the things I do. Why I throw away one opportunity for the next. Why I leave a loving, safe situation for an uncertain one. Why I break my own heart by forcing myself to say goodbye. All I know is my spirit is nomadic, like a gypsy’s. Where it comes from I’ll never know, but the only thing that ever frightens me more than leaving is staying.
IMG_5202I didn’t have a traumatic childhood. I didn’t want to get away from anyone or anything in particular. It wasn’t about getting away at all, it was about going. All those years peering through the window I was waiting for my life to begin, I just didn’t know it.
IMG_1275 2

Halfway to homeless

20150829-DSC_3275“The homeless people here fascinate me,” I said to my father on a cell phone from far away. “It’s just different than back east, you know? Like this one guy, he’s doing it right. He’s got his bike, his tidy backpack, he’s clean. And I see him on the bike trail all the time, just sitting there eating blackberries. I’d really like to know his story. Maybe he’s there by some choice. Making some kind of stand against the system.”

I knew how idealistic and naive that must have sounded.

“Maybe,” my dad said appeasingly. “Or maybe he’s a fucking psychopath.”

I thought of this conversation as I rounded a corner on the bike path and happened upon this man again, sitting in his usual spot. His set up was different this time. He no longer carried the colossal orange backpack but instead had a bike rack with his sleep system attached and two side panniers. Nodding my head I rode past, increasing my speed as the words “potential psycho path” pedaled through my head.

But perhaps he’s not that different from me after all. Spending most of my day off in hiding as clients came and went from the building where I currently dwell, I couldn’t help but feel quite homeless myself. With a job ending in six short weeks, the only thing that stands between me and becoming like that guy is a small pile of money, and, I suppose, my macbook and camera. The idea that I’m a traveller, a nomad, a free spirit. A writer.

Looking at apartment and job listings on craigslist give me an idea of where I could possibly end up in the near future. When doing so, I can’t help but be overwhelmed by depression. I don’t want to take my small pile and turn it into something larger. I just want to keep moving.

I wonder, why doesn’t that man ride out of this city cloaked in sunbeams? This majestic wasteland, this industrial oasis? What holds him here? It is certainly not a job, a house, or a family. I pass him again on my way back. My mouth creased in a tight smile. He lifts his hand and closes each finger slowly and deliberately, in what can only be described as a wave. I avert his eyes. I don’t want to know if a psychopath really is what’s behind his forlorn look.

“Beautiful day,” I say as I pass, quickly increasing my speed.