"Wow, that woman is a real trooper." A zodiac had just passed our stern as Scott and I were in the middle of the (rather laborious) process of off-loading our three girls from our dinghy and onto the boat. I heard his comment clear as day. My first reaction was a little chuckle; our current situation is quite the head-turner. But I quickly realized that his impression was probably a bit skewed: That instead of calling me a 'trooper' because I was unloading three toddlers from our dinghy (because wouldn't that make Scott a trooper as well?), maybe he was calling me a trooper because he thought that perhaps I had been convinced to live on a boat by my husband, and I was a good wife (or 'trooper') to have gone along for the ride. Either way, I took it as a compliment - but if he did think I was simply riding the coattails of Scott's dream, he would be very, very wrong.
It's true, however, that the vast majority of cruising couples we meet on the water over the past five years are often driven, literally and figuratively, by the man. I'm not sure why this is, but the woman in the pair is more often than not a willing (or, in some unfortunate cases, unwilling) participant in her husband's dream. Of course this is not always the case and we've met many, many couple's for whom the dream has evolved into a 'shared' one, and even a few where the woman is the driving force behind it.
So who's dream is this, anyway?
For Scott and I, it is very much a shared one. For me, the "traveler" of our duo, I'd been talking about 'sailing around the world' since I was a pre-teen. To me, sailing was a means to live differently and travel as a lifestyle. Scott, the true "sailor" in our duo, had also been dreaming and scheming about a life afloat just as long. For him, however, it was more about being at sea, exploring new islands and the simple art of harnessing the wind. When we met and learned of this shared dream, I believe it was the very fuel that kick-started our relationship into orbit. I mean, how many people living in Chicago really, truly want to do what it takes to live and travel by sailboat? It's not many. We felt like we hit the jackpot with each other, and in many ways, we did. What we wanted to get out of the lifestyle might have been different, but the vessel to get us there was the same. So from day one of our relationship, almost everything we did revolved around making this 'dream' come true. The two of us leaving on a boat to sail off into the sunset surprised exactly no one in our lives. For our wedding we registered for winches, offshore medical kits and windlasses; Egyptian cotton bed sheets and the white picket fence were never in our sites.
And here we are.
We obviously didn't get very far around the world, in fact some critics argue we've hardly gone anywhere at all (despite the fact that we sailed from Chicago to Trinidad, done the "thorny path" twice, and sailed up and down the windwards and leewards a couple times clocking in over 10K nautical miles), but it doesn't matter. Many have sailed more, and many have sailed less. It's not about needing anyone else's approval or accolades, and it's certainly not a competition. For us, the past five years has been a metamorphosis of sorts. What started as a plan to "sail around the world" has become a dream to live a life less ordinary, with the focus on raising three healthy, happy and (dare I say) bad-ass daughters who are free-thinking world citizens. It's become less about the sailing to far-flung places, and more about cultivating a life that we enjoy and can feel proud of. It's really as simple as that. And, to be honest, I feel that in some teeny-tiny way, we are pioneers in our own right. There aren't many people who, given our same circumstances, would have the stick-to-it that we have.
There are times when I am more the driving force behind our dream, and times when Scott takes the helm - but the roots are always the same. We've never followed the pack - not as individuals and not as a couple - and while the path might be one that evolves and unfolds before us as we go, it is ours. Together.
And, yeah, we're troopers. I'll give us that.