My sister’s wedding gave us a great excuse to plan a trip back to the US. I flew into Portland, Maine, ten days ahead of Brian (who didn’t want to be away from the boat that long in hurricane season and decided to fly just in time for the wedding), to fulfill my duties as co-maid of honor and get a little extra time with my parents at their peaceful country home before the wedding festivities began.
How strange it felt to suddenly be surrounded by people living in the “real world”. In line at the airport ticket counter in Grenada, I was in the company of New Yorkers, Long Islanders, and people from the Jersey ‘burbs (I made my connection at JFK), all red from their beach vacations in the Grenadian sun.
The line was moving slowly (It being the biggest day of Carnival, JetBlue may have been a wee bit understaffed), but we all still had a good three hours before takeoff – nobody in line was close to risking a missed flight. Even so, I started to notice toe tapping and arm crossing, tooth sucking and frustrated sighing; the trademark signs of New Yorkers with high expectations for service that are not being met. Strangers rolled their eyes at one another in solidarity. The lady in front of me repeatedly pulled in short breaths through her teeth, fixed her vexing eyes on the employees behind the counter, and not-too quietly whispered poison in her husband’s ear once every thirty seconds.
In that moment, standing in a line with plenty of time to spare, it hadn’t occurred to me to feel anything at all.
This was quite a personal revelation. Just one year ago, slow-moving lines made me anxious. I too would have been chomping at the bit to check my luggage and move on through security (though I would have kept these feelings to myself – unlike the lady in front of me), even when there was absolutely no risk of missing my flight.
The more time I spend back in the “real world”, the more I notice that I’m no longer sweating the small stuff. Furthermore, cruising has forced me to develop patience and better empathy. These are all huge wins for me, usually prone to being overly-serious, tightly-wound, and just a wee-bit complainy.
On a separate note: how crazy/humbling it is that 3,500 nautical miles passed under our keel during our journey last year, but it only took six hours on a plane to undo all that progress?
We had a blast during our visit. I tried my best to take lots of photos, but it felt really weird having a camera out all the time in places that I once called home – especially NYC. Here’s my lame-photo summary of our trip, which was nothing but fun.
First stop, the family homestead in Maine. My mom and I spent the better part of a week disinfecting and de-smellifying all of the stuff I’d brought home for storage. (Non liveaboards, how can you stand us? We must smell disgusting to you!) We also made a lot of nice, simple meals from my mom’s garden, had a BBQ that included a lot of my extended family, and dad took us for ice cream by the lake. I got a much-needed haircut, and finished a big writing project I’d been struggling through.
Then I took a bus down to Boston for a whirlwind weekend – throwing Tory and Maia’s bachelorette party and catching up with some friends. It was great spending time with Tory and Maia before things got real with the wedding. The party was super-fun, friends from both girls’ circles gelled really well, we enjoyed some awesome BBQ and karaoke in a private room (I planned the party from our boat in the Caribbean!) My friend Devon (who is also friends with my sister) came up from NYC and stayed with me so we could squeeze in some extra time together. The morning after the party, she introduced me to the magical spinning goodness that is Flywheel (have I mentioned how much I miss spin living aboard?). Finally, I got to meet up with my friend Scott, who I haven’t seen in ages, for burgers, (fantastic) beers, and political ranting in the neighborhood where we lived during college. Felt like old times!
Then it was back to Maine for the week leading up to the wedding. It was very DIY and there was lots to be done!
The wedding took place at Camp Encore/Coda, where I spent summers during my early teen years and later worked as a lifeguard and head counselor during college. It’s a nostalgic place for Tory and me – and the perfect setting for such an important moment in her life.
After the wedding and the post-wedding clean up, Brian and I said goodbye to my family and flew to Long Island to visit his. We had an awesome visit with his parents and his sister, Lindsay, who is engaged to be married next summer! Unfortunately, we were so busy experimenting with our fun new Polaroid Snap camera (thanks Maia and Tory!) that I didn’t get a chance to take any real photos during this part of the visit. If you squint, you can see shots of us cooking, playing with Lindsay’s dog Indy, belly-laughing, and eating more lobster rolls! Practice makes perfect, I guess.
Finally, it was on to NYC, where we had less than three days to cram in as many friends and delicious greatest hits from our favorite food stands and restaurants as we possibly could. We found a tiny, serviceable Air BnB studio apartment in the East Village, where we used to live, and did our best to re-live our normal life in the New York the way we would have on an average summer weekend. It was fantastic catching up with so many friends from all parts of our city lives! And the food and wine… I won’t even start.
We loved every minute of our stay, but we were also very happy to return to the boat, which feels like home wherever we roam, and to Nico, who survived the week with the 1st Mates (highly recommend these guys) coming to the boat daily to feed him and attend to his kitty needs.