It also happens to be exactly where Scott and I find ourselves these days.
(And, no, Socrates and Homer are not here. Bummer.)
Every day I get emails from people asking questions on how to make their dream of living on a boat come true. They want to know the secret to breaking out of the rat race and find a way to fill the cruising kitty and fund their gypsy lifestyle. "How do you do it?" they want to know.
The truth is: we don't know. We have no answers. We have no magic to share. We're not living our dream. We're not making it happen. Sure, it worked for a while. But now? Not so much.
And herein lies the downside of choosing an alternative lifestyle at relatively young ages: Scott and I have no real fallback plan.
We sold our cars, left our jobs, and all our money went into our boat and our dream. We have no home. We have no significant savings. We are living with my parents for crying out loud (which we are incredibly grateful for because we'd be living in a van by the river otherwise). We have no idea where to go from here and it feels like we're starting from square one, except we're not in our twenties, but in our mid to late thirties with three small children. You can praise our lifestyle all you want, but right now we are hardly "living the dream". In fact from our vantage point (and I'm sure the vantage point of others) - we feel like utter failures.
We left in 2010 with big plans and enough money to float us along for a good while. When that ran out, Scott found work and we were, happily, living check to check while floating along. Bringing one baby into the equation didn't even phase us. It was all good and we kept plugging along. When we found out we were having twins, however, a colossal (and blessed!) monkey wrench was thrown into our life (insert sound of record scratching).
So here we are. In limbo. Going nowhere. Stuck in a rut. And feeling pretty crappy about it. Wah, wah.
Since we've been home I have been in a fog of multiple motherhood and only now am I reaching a point with the twins that I feel like I can come up for air and take a look around. Scott has been working really hard to try and make a decent income from various real estate outlets, but they haven't proven viable for the long term. We have no idea what to do. We're not sure where to go from here. We have no real plan (other than this one, for now) and no concrete ideas on how to support ourselves and our dreams moving forward.
I would love to be able to write more, to do freelance work and bring in some income (the blog and various affiliates do bring in a nice chunk of change, but certainly not enough to call "income") - but right now, almost all of my time is spent caring for our children which, mind you, I am very happy to do, but it's not leaving much room for anything else. Scott would love to find a gig that allows for us to live on the boat part time, and land part time but, as most of you know, that's a pretty tall order. Not to mention he has some pretty hefty gaps in his resume now and no real fall-back "career".
Choosing an alternative lifestyle, while it grants us some wonderful adventures and opportunities, has left us feeling a little lost and...for lack of a better word...stuck. We don't own any real land-based possessions to speak of, but we do own our boat, so do we move aboard Asante full-time? Do we look for job-opportunities in the British or US Virgin Islands and commit ourselves to a life aboard abroad? If so - what would we do? Thankfully, the door is always open with Island Windjammers, and Scott was offered a gig to be a captain and take out passengers on our boat - but then what would me and the girls do all day? Surely vacationers aren't interested in days sails with three babies on a boat and that's not really the kind of lifestyle we're looking for either. Do we come back to land, rent a house and re-enter the working world with the hopes to save enough to take off again in a few years? We don't have the answers to any of these questions right now and that is a pretty unsettling feeling.
Has living in the "real world" gotten to us? Has our semi-reluctant re-entry into a society that values careers, home ownership and material goods tainted our dreaming minds? Have we been comparing ourselves to our land-lubbing peers and felt the sting that the life we have lead and what we have done is simply not valued here? Perhaps. I certainly think this is a big part of it.
So when people write us asking how we do it, I am inclined to write back: I'm so sorry, but I just. don't. know. It worked for us for a while, but now that we have a family - and a substantial one at that - suddenly, everything is
What we don't know is what that life looks like and how to get there. We've been floating along without any real direction or long-term plan for so long, that we've sort of atrophied our ability to steer.
Lucky for us, our "limbo" is less permanent than Dante's. We are not eternally stuck here. We have the means to get out because our limbo is an intermediate condition, an intermission. We have no idea what lies ahead, but I guess that's what makes life beautiful, right? It's the uncertainty and the mystery of the future, and the lessons we learn along the way, that keep us moving forward toward something (hopefully) bigger and better than before...
“I wanted a perfect ending. Now I've learned, the hard way, that some poems don't rhyme, and some stories don't have a clear beginning, middle, and end. Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what's going to happen next. Delicious Ambiguity.”
- Gilda Radner