Vashon Island, Washington
For almost four years now, I have lived completely afloat. Water has been my medium, my muse, my only constant. But taking a break from the water for a few months, I find that in those previous 50 years and 3 months before moving onto a boat, I took a few things for granted.
Like earth. I walk out the door and step onto solid ground. No dinghy ride, no precarious hop across a chasm. Just a step, so simple. It's always there, the earth, faithful, calm and reassuring, with its musty smells and nourishing palette of green and brown. I run my hand along a tree trunk, rough and solid, a pad of moss, soft and velvety.
And stillness. No matter how calm the water, a boat is in constant motion. Inside, everything moves too, my couch, my bed, my bathroom, my kitchen. On dry land, I walk on floors that are utterly still, and I thank them. I recklessly set a glass on the countertop without concern that it might go unexpectedly flying, shattering. I lie on a bed so still, it sucks me into unconsciousness like anesthesia, and I rest.
Living aboard is like parenting: you're always on watch. A part of my brain was always devoted to safety, planning, watching, worrying. On land, my brain rambles around with newfound freedom and ease. My nerves have lost their edge. Have I?
Water against fiberglass, wind in rigging, rain on the coach roof. Lines in cleats, chain against anchor. Once, I even heard a grouper make his guttural sounds just beneath my bed. Life onboard is one of constant sounds. But in our remote cabin, silence is like a blanket. It embraces me like memory foam, pressing down errant thoughts and soothing tight muscles.
Water I am not finished with you yet, but today, I'm indulging a little land crush.