Last night, while eating deer burritos, Rob and I had a spirited discussion (argument, some might say) about budgets while we’re sailing and traveling. Right after I loudly announced there was no way I was “spending my whole savings, period!” I suddenly teared up.
I left my burrito, and fled to the bathroom to cry. First off, I’m not a big crier, and I’m certainly not one to lock myself in the bathroom for a private bawl fest. Second, I never, ever, ever leave food, because I love eating. So, as the flow of tears abated, I sat on the bathroom floor and probed around to figure out why the hell I was upset.
I was crying because I was scared.
Luckily, I had 4 hours of alone-time in the car today to reflect on what, exactly, I was scared of. As I drove to Helena this morning, I decided to start with some of the fears other people had asked me about related to sailing away.
I quickly pinpointed it wasn’t the money that launched the tears and fears, though that certainly is stressful (hence, the debate with Rob). I opened my first bank account at 16, and have saved money ever since. That’s part of the reason we can make this trip, of course, since our adventure requires spending money. But I feel claustrophobic about draining all our hard-earned reserves, and coming back to a mortgage without a job.
I also realized quickly that I’m not scared of sea snakes, or storms, or sinking a boat. I’m not scared of strange encounters with odd people or confusing cultures. I’m not scared of long delays, not knowing where I’ll sleep on a given night, or not understanding a language well enough to find food or a bathroom. Those things will be worries, inconveniences, and trials along the way. But they aren’t what made me cry in the bathroom. Here’s what did:
- I’m scared of leaving my sister. And my parents. And my friends.
- I’m scared we might not want to come back to the “real world,” with its fixation on money and mortgages.
- I’m scared that–eventually–I might have to choose between a lifestyle I love and living without my family and friends.
My friend Margi told me last week that the best thing to do with fears is to confront them. So, here they are. In black and white. There’s not much I can do about any of these fears, except acknowledge them, live with them, feel them settle in my heart and bones.
As my mom told me recently, I might start to separate a bit from my current reality. It’s natural to begin to create distance between the things I love most to make it easier to leave them.
But instead, I feel like all I want to do is sit on my sister’s couch each night, and bury my face in her dog’s neck. I want to text, email, and talk to my parents throughout the day so I can carry their words with me across the Pacific. I find myself trying to memorize my friends’ smiles, so they light up the sky on dark starlit nights at sea. I’m imprinting their children’s bodies on my body to remember the feel of their little hugs and the sound of their giggles at 9 months-old or 9 years-old … in case they don’t remember me when I get back.
All of these realizations and reflections on the drive to Helena were eerily mirrored by the weather. The raindrops on my windshield were backlit by the sun, an echo to the tears rolling down my cheeks. A rainbow followed me all the way to Helena, staying just off to starboard. It reminded me that the tears are part of the process to create the light, the magic, and the ephemeral array of colors that this journey will paint on my life.
And the fact that the tears kept on coming — rainbow or not — reminded me that leaving will be harder than I thought.