Thursday 17 MAY 2018 – en route to Orlando, FL
Our flight from Budapest gets modified at the airport. Instead of flying British Airways to Philadelphia we are routed through JFK and put on the Polish airline LOT. If you don’t mind the somewhat terse form of customer service that you get in eastern Europe – and, nostalgically, I don’t – this is fine. It does, however, make us go through two rounds of security questions in the airport. Here I find the Hungarians take a no nonsense approach to discovering my relationship to my luggage. The number of questions they have devised in regard to the packing and transporting of my bags is impressive. When it’s finally over the second time I ask my interrogator what’s what. Has there been a specific threat today, an event or something? “No, this is just what the Americans want us to do,” he responds. It is? Later, when we are laughing and rolling our eyes my mother will sarcastically ask, “Then why don’t the Americans also do it?” Ah, I see from where my “healthy” skepticism is inherited.
The trip with Ava and my mom was great fun. In the end we were happy with our choice to visit Budapest, a thriving city with many aspects to compare to our more familiar Bucharest. Of course, the further east one travels in this part of the world, the further from the culture familiar to the world as “European” one gets. Budapest has always been wealthier and worldlier than Bucharest. And though both cities were set back by a similar rough fate in the second half of the twentieth century, Budapest continues to feel one step ahead of Bucharest. This is not only due to its geographic position but also to its leadership and maybe a pride of heritage that Romania, in its humor-filled cynicism, may never have.
Small evidentiary (?) aside: of the thirty or forty channels on Hungarian TV, none were broadcast in English!
Friday 18 MAY 2018 – St. Augustine, FL
Glenn arrives early at my parent’s house. He doesn’t wake me up because being on Hungarian time, I have been up since before sunrise even though I went to bed at 1:30AM. Glenn has brought the boat up from The Bahamas to St. Augustine a week ago, but has been sleeping aboard instead of at my folks’ house because he needs to “manage the boat’s batteries” or something. We all know it’s because he loves the boat more than us.
The rest of the day is a haze. We take a walk on the beach. We eat some fantastic tacos. We pick something up at the Winn Dixie. Who knows. By 8PM I am completely out of gas. I drop into a thick sleep before saying goodnight to anyone.
Saturday 19 MAY 2018 – St. Augustine, FL
2:30AM. Awake. I mean vibrating with energy awake; ready to climb Mt. Everest awake; able to answer complex questions awake. I will not be falling back to sleep this morning, insomnia and I know each other intimately. For six long years while I was trying to earn tenure, I sparred with my consciousness, sometimes nightly, trying in vain to beat her. I never did, so now I don’t try.
Luckily – I guess – the wedding of Prince Harry to American actress Meghan Markle is being broadcast all over the internet this morning starting at 4AM. Ava and I have both been sucked into this, so we are prepared. Ava spent yesterday baking blueberry scones and cream puff shells. By 5AM the two of us plus my mom are in the kitchen finishing the trays of goodies before the scheduled appearance of the bride and groom. As we fill and dip the cream puffs into chocolate we watch the guests and their flowery dresses and feathery fascinators arrive. “What was she thinking?” we chuckle at the screen or “Ooo, that one is quite insane,” It’s a beautiful day over there in England and we feel fine to laugh a bit at the pomp of the affair. Someone’s got to keep the rich folks in line. We have left over chocolate so we dip a pint of strawberries and arrange them on a tray too. By 5:30AM we are feet up in front of my parents giant television stuffing sweet things into our mouths. At 7AM we see the dress. We love it. No beads, no lace, no sparkle, just elegant, clean lines. At 7:30AM the black American preacher announces us all as one big black and white family now. Yes, please. By 8AM the two are married and waving us off and I am back to wondering what a royal even is these days.
Sunday 20 MAY 2018 – St. Augustine, FL
Today Ava and I move back onto Netzah. In the morning Glenn and I bring our clothes and a load of fresh groceries over. In the early evening, after a small dinner with my parents, we pack up the computers and books and they drive us to the boat. Since we are leaving early tomorrow morning, we will be sleeping on the water tonight, the first time in almost four weeks. I am ready. It was a good break, but I feel like we have a project to finish. We have, at most, 8 weeks left now. In any other year an 8-week trip would be a long one, but in the scope of a 14-month trip, we can feel the end approaching. I’m excited.
Monday 21 MAY 2018 – St. Augustine, FL
Early this morning, before we leave, I can see that Glenn is agitated. As he moves about the boat scratching his head, he covers a lot of area but isn’t actually getting anything done. Plus, he is spending a lot of time poking his head out through the companionway wistfully gazing at the water. I get the feeling he wants me to know something is bugging him. “What’s up?” I ask, looking up from my computer. I have been photo editing since 5AM in an effort to try and post a promised blog entry before we go, something that’s not going to happen.
“Nothing.” Comes the reply. But soon, after some more shuffling back and forth, Glenn says that he doesn’t think we should go today. It could be the forecast for high-ish seas or that the boat is not completely packed up. But it isn’t. It’s internal. In his anticipation to get back on the water, Glenn hasn’t been readying himself mentally for this departure, he finally admits.
I get it. “Let’s stay,” I say, secretly relishing the thought that I’ll get caught up on my blog and get to drink a chai latte at the same time (it’s the small things, people!). We stay for one more day, spending it eating pizza, perusing books, hanging out as a family, and generally getting into the rhythm of being on the trip again.
Tuesday 22 MAY 2018 – Ameila Island, FL
Motor on the ICW to Amelia Island. A dull day in which I realize that I left my camera at my parents’ house and treat everyone badly as a result.
Wednesday 23 MAY 2018 – sailing north
At St. Mary’s we exit the ICW, turn off the motor and for the first time in over four weeks glide back onto the lumpy surface of the ocean. The seas aren’t rough exactly, but the short period between the waves and our bad angle to them rolls us left and right with stiff little jerks that keep me in a low-level nausea for the entire 24-hour ride. The unpleasantness really dampens my spirit. Not long into this leg I start wishing that I hadn’t left land and its many motionless wonders. I’ve had enough of this, I say to myself quickly forgetting the elation I was feeling just a few days ago. Why did I let Glenn push me back out here? I curse his rush. “Hey!” I think of a way out. “What if we pulled the boat out early and spent the last few weeks walking the Appalachian Trail?” I ask out loud, knowing long distance walking is one of Glenn’s aspirational trips, and knowing too, the impossibility of this proposal. Ava and Glenn look at me like I’ve lost it.
Being back on the water reminds me how hard it can be to live on it. The constant motion, the cramped space, the lack of hot water – particularly the kind that sprays on me from a shower head, and maybe most of all, the not being able to get up and go anyplace of car culture, are the adjustments I am currently re-experiencing, the adjustments that a mere four weeks, at least partially, erased. It’s a grind I suppose, almost all things are easier on land, but these difficulties are also the reasons to be out here, because, of course, the greatest adventure is always inward. Beating hardship (in so far as traveling by boat for a year is a hardship) is the gratifying part. When we left again this time my dad’s face pained with questions of why. I have no answer other than to say because I can. One day, maybe too soon, I will not be able to, so for now I go. I’m back.
I took two pictures on my phone this week – one of Glenn (above) and the image of a storm that was chasing us on the ICW (cover). I should have my camera back, until then use your brilliant imaginations, please.