We’re still here…

IMG_4636…in Oriental, but, we swear, tomorrow, early, we’re leaving.  Our buddy boat, Seahorse, should arrive tonight.  And we installed SSB radio  number 3 (1 and 2 blew up after a day’s use) and are praying that this one will actually last.  We’re not sticking around to find out.  So, Hurricane Kate or not, we’re going.  And we’re not worried.

No, indeed, folks.  This evening there is a tropical storm brewing into a full-on hurricane near the Bahamas, our destination, as you will recall, and it’s called Hurricane Kate, and we’re not worried.  We talked in person by phone to THE weather guru for this part of the world, Chris Parker, and he blessed our departure date.  He also told us not to dally, as the seas might be too rough for us to land exactly where we’d like to.  Not a problem; we can always sail on for six more hours or so to some other place.  We’ll be fine.  We’re not worried.

It seemed auspicious that today I should meet up with a small group of Women Who Sail, a closed group on Facebook with 7,213 members and growing.  We talked anchorages and sailing skills and life changes and laundry.  Each one of them had significant experience at sea.  Three were part of a married couple and one was a single-hander.  Each was older than 50.  They had strong and supple bodies and energetic, open faces. One was a pilot. Another a psychotherapist.  One wrote books. These were not mousy women.  I learned a lot from them.  I liked them.  I took them as a good omen.  There is nothing to worry about.

Seriously, we’re not worried.  We’re thrilled.  Well, Ryan is.  I’m still anxious, worrywarted mother that I am, and trying to get over it.  Ryan keeps high-fiving me and shining gleefully at me.  That is, he does this thing that there is no word for in English.  In German, the word is strahlen, which I translate as shine with glee.  He’s suddenly much happier, more relaxed.  “We’re actually going!!!!” he practically giggles.  He has worked his butt off to get here and he’s stoked.

I think I am, too.  Ryan says it usually takes people about a month to relax.  I think it’s going to take me longer.  I kind of hope I don’t chill out too much and stop writing or drawing.  Maybe I will and it will be good.  And this is what I hope will happen: I hope I unlearn the requirement continuously to “produce” something in order to justify my existence, a work ethic that tears the joy out of all doing, and begin writing or painting or drawing or cooking or whatever because it gives me pleasure to do so. I hope I stop worrying so much about what other people will think of my creations that I can’t create, and that I stop associating creating with producing.

On this subject of production, I recommend the “The Paradise of Bachelors and the Tartarus of Maids.” That would be Melville. It’s a short story, a tale, a yarn, a historical allegory. Ah, Melville, who wrote the king of sea-stories in our era.  He’s right up there with Homer and Virgil, some people think.

Honestly, I’m really looking forward to reading, to endless seas of time in which to find my way into new territories of the imagination as I travel towards a new set of stories, stories to hear and take part in.  That is what I’m looking forward to.  High-five!!!

But I’m not worried.  No, really, I’m fine.  Not worried.  Piece of cake!  Heading 250 miles offshore for three days!  No Big Deal.  My brother did 18 days coming back from Hawaii when he was only 15!  Not worried.

This non-worry of mine is what I’m going to call leaving-the-dock anxiety.  It’s a sickness that afflicts many would-be ocean crossers.  Indeed, one of our fleet has already fallen low with it, and has unjoined our party.  No shame in it, not at all.  It takes a lot to untie the lines to mainland safety, to internet and phone service and the certainty of dairy products and showers and washing machines.  Psychologically, we are hard-wired to stick to what we know, to what feels secure.  Actually going forth is not unlike rocketing out into space.

And at night, sailing, you float in space.  You can’t see where the sea ends and the sky begins. On a clear night and quiet seas, the stars reflect in the water.  Better yet, the phosphorescent trail the boat leaves in your wake streaks back miles and miles into the night.  Sometimes your hull swims between floating orbs of greenish light.

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Author: Kimberly Latta, Ph.D.

Psychotherapist, writer, artist, and independent feminist scholar.

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