Thursday, October 13, 2016

A Foot in Both Worlds

As our time back on land comes to a close (how did two months go by that fast?) I am constantly asked the question, "Aren't you *so* glad to leave and go back?" It's hard to answer that because - for the last four years or so - Scott and I have remained, more or less, tethered to land. After a year and a half of solo cruising, we came home to have Isla and moved to Florida for six months after that to refit our boat. We then set sail only to return home a little over a year later to give birth to our (surprise!) twins. Two infants at once, as you can probably imagine, was a real game changer and we lived with my parents for a year while we adjusted to live as an insta-family of five. We were, for all intents and purposes, land-lubbers and, for us, it was the only way to be during that (incredibly difficult) season of our lives. We then began the process of buying a business on Tortola which dictated that we move off island for six months while the deal went through, and from now forward, as official "expats", we plan to come back for visits at least once a year to see family and friends and "get off the rock", as it were.

Land life is simply part of our life, and we are grateful for it.

So am I glad to leave? No. This visit has been amazing. Scott and I got away - alone, together - for the first time in four years to attend one of my best friend's weddings in Santa Barbara where (cough cough) Gweneth Paltrow (among others!!) was a fellow guest (my friend is a very successful Hollywood writer and, no, I did not meet her but could have touched her a couple times!), Scott got to spend some quality time with his brother on a motorcycle trip riding "the tail of the dragon" in Tennessee, we spent a positively beautiful week in Northern Michigan with most of Scott's family, the girls and I had countless playdates with wonderful neighborhood kids and kindred spirit mom friends, we got to see all of my immediate family and their families'...there were bonfires, play parks, museum visits and sleepovers...dinners out, talks over wine and spirit-lifting hang-outs with old friends...the list goes on. It was wonderful and went by too fast, and it's precisely why we keep coming back - because there is so very much here for us.

So, no, I'm not "glad" to leave ( though I am happy to be escaping winter!) - it is, in fact, a bit sad. We have a wonderful life up here filled with family, friends and - oh man - the general convenience of the 'burbs cannot be beat. But are we happy to go back to our little boat and little island? You betcha.


You see, by having one foot in both worlds, we are offered a unique perspective and one that helps us to appreciate the other world. I've always been one to caution the notion that there is any one single way to live that is better than another (i.e. land life vs. island life vs. cruising) because the fact of the matter is this: it's completely subjective and while many people love the above lifestyles, just as many do not. My best friend in the whole wide world came to visit us last season and one night, as we were sipping rum cocktails gazing out as the sun set over the water she said, "Britt...I totally get why you live here. This place is amazing and it is so totally you. You are clearly in your element. But me? No. This wouldn't work for me." It was not an insult and I was in no way offended.  I completely agreed with her because a) I know her better than I know anybody and, no, it is definitely not her jam and b) I know that our slightly alternative lifestyle is not a one size fits all kind of existence.

On the flip side, how she feels about island/live-aboard life is precisely how I feel about a more traditional, suburban/city life. I appreciate the convenience, the plethora of things to do, the accessibility to great restaurants and shows and of course the proximity to friends and family...but for now, it's just not for us.

And yet, we have an amazing thing up here. We have my family here and Scott's family just day's drive over in Michigan (seriously, the most underrated state in the lower 50 in my opinion. So. Damn. Beautiful.) and we get to spend time with them when we visit, exploring the woods, the shores of fresh water lakes, and - in general - living our days outside in the fresh air. Our girls have a slew of aunts and uncles who adore them and cousins on both sides whom they consider their best friends - these kinds of bonds are the very reason we keep a tether to shore. I have an incredible group of friends - some of whom I have known since I was five - who, despite our distance and once-a-year visits, are truly some of the most incredible people in the world and fill my life, heart and soul with love and joy...My girls adore their grandparents, they love our neighbors, and the relationships they have with these people are important to us. It's a pleasure to be here, not a burden.

We have the same level of appreciation, however, for our little island life. While the roots we have planted are new, we have begun to develop a great and very fulfilling existence. Our business is thriving and exciting to us. We absolutely love our "neighborhood" and cross-cultural community at Nanny Cay, the seeds for great friendships have been planted and are being sowed, the girls thrive like the wild little (often naked) bush children they are and I really love the slower and simpler pace of day to day living. Everything feels a little less rushed, everyone has a little more time and I like that. Our choices for everything from what to do to what to eat are most definitely limited compared to what is available up here, but what we do get is constant and close access to jaw-dropping, awe-inspiring natural beauty day in and day out and that, to me, is priceless. The water, specifically, is truly a salve to my soul and, man, I'm excited to get back and dip my toes into it. I need it..


There are also some very exciting changes on the horizon that if you follow our >>Facebook Page<< you already know... Scott was only back for a short while during this trip (we kept our business running year round this year) but his visit allowed us a quick trip to the East Coast to do some boat shopping. Yep, you read that correctly: boat shopping. Scott and I had a sort of "come to Jesus" type talk and decided that we needed a bigger boat sooner than later. Long story short: I am more than excited to announce that we are under contract with a 48 foot three cabin cutter-rigged monohull (more details soon, I promise!) and the boat goes to survey the day after the girls and I return to Tortola. To say we are excited about this new development is a massive understatement, but - like I said - the hows and why's of all this require a whole separate blog post and, until the boat passes survey (which it should) we aren't counting any chickens. Patience, please.

Another amazing change we will be coming back to is the fact that all three girls will attend a little pre-school three half-days a week. While I have been home with all of them as their major care-taker 24/7 for the last four and a half years, the time has come to give myself a little break - not to mention the fact the girls are literally begging me to send them to school. Again, there is a whole post here and I'll delve more into why we made this decision a little later. Suffice it to say, we did a lot of research, talked to a lot of people and decided that at this juncture of our lives - this will be best for everybody. We are all super stoked.

This trip home has been a fantastic "factory reset" - and while we are sad to say "goodbye" - there is so much to look forward to. While having a "foot in both worlds" might, to some, seem non-committal or even limiting, to us it feels like a huge gift and makes life a little sweeter.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have packing to do and lists to make! We are island bound in t-minus three days!

(and here is where I barrage you with a completely random assortment of photos of our visit! I tried as best I could to cut down from the 2K I took, but it was not easy!)

To all our friends and family who made this visit so great, we thank you! To those of you who we adore with all our hearts yet could not see this time around, we are sorry and we'll catch you next time! xoxo


Chris on S/V Radio Waves said...

I get how you feel. We started cruising last August. We left Michigan and made it to the Exumas in the Bahamas and then took our boat back to Florida where we left it for the summer while we headed back to Michigan to decide what our next steps would be. At first we thought it might be time to sell the house and become full-time liveaboards, but then when we got back we realized we are not yet ready to give up our beautiful home, beautiful state and beautiful friends! So, for the time being, we too will have keep a foot in both worlds as we head back to the boat and the Bahamas in a few short weeks.

Safe travels, my friend!

Anonymous said...

I love all the stories of your sweet family. They truly make my day! My brain automatically goes there with you guys. Enjoy your special life as time will fly and babies grow up way to soon. Thank you for all your blogs. It teach third grade in a small town community outside of Charleston SC. I read your blog and share your pics with my students. They look so forward to it and know their teacher was a mermaid before she was a teacher. They all want sailboats when they grow up. This week they are drawing pics of the girls on the sailboat. I'll send you pics. Thanks for sharing your dream life with us. Phyllis Dantzler

Windtraveler said...

Oh my goodness that might just be the sweetest thing I've heard. So happy that you want to share and your students are inspired!!! Thank you for making my day ❤️

Windtraveler said...

It would be very hard to leave MI for good, it's the BEST. We really cherish our time there. Love that you have found Balance and are loving life! Hope to see you guys soon!! ❤️

Marsha Dickgieser said...

You and your whole family are such an inspiration to my husband and I. We're counting down the days till he's done school (marine engineering) and we can possibly resume our own island lifestyle. You help keep our dreams alive with your stories and accounts of every day life (both on land and on the rock) that we yearn for! We took a 3 month road trip this summer in a cargo van we converted to a camper and it just solidified the fact that we're not meant for this cookie cutter life of cubicles and white picket fences.
Good luck with packing, travel and new boat! Don't stop! *hearts*

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