Don't get me wrong, I can't wait to get back to our boat, it is what I prefer. I love living a 'life less ordinary' in a sailboat on the ocean and living in the sunshine amongst other cultures where the pace of life is slower. But I also understand that it's not the only way. I know for a fact some people couldn't be paid to live on a boat like we do, that many people really enjoy their 'ordinary' lives and the communities around them, and that many landlubbers might go positively mad living on 'island time'. A friend came over the other day and was so excited for us to head back to the boat. "It's great what you're doing!" she said. "It's such a better life!" she exclaimed. "You'll be so much happier!" she continued. It was obvious she had romanticized living aboard and, being the kind of person I am, I had to stop her and remind her that our life on the boat is far from perfect. "Oh, I know" she started, "But don't you think people here are just so...miserable?"
I didn't want to squash her obvious excitement or be rude, but I also had to be honest. "No" I answered. "I don't."
Because what I have learned after spending this past summer home is that 'ordinary' life is beautiful too. Sure, the scenery might not be as dynamic as that of a tropical paradise, but true beauty is so much more than a visual. It's making connections with like-minded moms who I meet during swim lessons, at the park, or in the library. It's seeing the excitement on our kids' faces as our neighborhood "big girls" come over, load our littles into the wagon, and take them all to the park trailed by giggles. It's old friends who, when they hear your kids don't have winter clothes, get together and collect some for you. It's packing a cooler of beer for an afternoon beach outing with family. It's spontaneous drinks with neighbors during a power outage. It's getting together with old girl friends and gabbing about life over wine and dinner. It's play dates with cousins who turn into best buddies. It's backyard bonfires with close friends and s'mores. It's rigging up a tire swing from the old black walnut tree. It's having a slumber party with your best friend of almost thirty years and laughing and crying about the craziness of life. It's a walk in a forest preserve to see the fall colors. It's skipping stones onto Lake Michigan. It's grandma and grandpa showing up every morning for coffee and playtime. It's the holiday traditions, village tree-lightings, toddler reading groups, summer concerts, and the birth of your dear friend's baby. It's about family and friends and fun and love.
Right now, our life is taking us to the islands very much by choice. I do prefer to live somewhere warm and visually spectacular. I do prefer to avoid a Chicago winter at all costs. I do prefer to live on a boat as opposed to in a house. Believe me, there are absolutely elements of a suburban land life that are not for me, but there are elements of the island-hopping cruising lifestyle that aren't great as well. We make the beds we lie in and everything is a trade off. Community, friends, proximity to nature and honest relationships...these are the things that really matter to me, and as long as I can find them - I know I will be happy wherever I roam.
One things for sure, I will always, always enjoy coming home.
Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful, we must carry it with us or we find it not.
-Ralph Waldo Emerson