“You never know what you’re gonna get…”
When I open a fresh box of delicious chocolates, I scan the contents for Butter Cream or Truffle or Mint or Toffee or Caramel. If someone has already scammed the popular ones, an easily identifiable, plain old Almond Cluster standby will sufficiently satisfy; I’ll settle for Orange Cream; and I’ll tolerate the Jellies (barely).
But hidden amongst all that sweetness are imposters. Lying in wait. Biding their time. Pretending to be something they’re not. The instant my teeth touch that center filling, my heart sinks. Ptooey. It’s my worst chocolate nightmare.
Everyone has their least favorite…what’s yours?
Cheap Cherry Cordials with their fake and ultra-fermented foulness? Yeecck.
(Fortunately, those mounded tops are a dead giveaway, others are impossible to detect...like…)
Rubbery Rum Raisin sporting a gelatinous gluey-goo center, overpowered with acrid alcohol flavoring? Grross.
Rancid Russian Nougat filled with gummy walnuts and petrified fruit, basically 10-yr-old fruitcake? Blehk.
What if fate directed your hand towards Rum Raisin?
Ugh. One isn’t so bad though. You’ll power through it. Just pick another.
Rum Raisin. Hmmm, that’s weird. Pick another.
Rum Raisin. What the...OK, try the second layer.
Rum Raisin. Is this a joke? Factory mishap? Government conspiracy?
No joke. What if you ended up with an entire box of Rum Raisin? A Five. Pound. Box.
Sometimes, that’s just what life gives us. Whether we like it or not.
There’s nothing you can do now or in the future to transform that box into something more palatable; nothing you could have done differently to avoid getting the box. You can’t return the box via UPS (wouldn’t that be nice); you can’t re-gift the box in a Dirty Santa trade (wouldn’t that be cruel); you can’t hide it under your bed and ignore the box (like your taxes). Taxes and Rum Raisin boxes must be dealt with no matter how much we despise them.
So, what do you do when a loved one is plopped down in the midst of an overwhelming mountain of Rum Raisin?
You drop everything. You come home. And you help them deal with it as best you can.
And so we did.
We’ve been in Michigan for three months. Intending to return to the boat in mid-January, it’s now well past Valentine’s Day (hence my box-o’-chocolate analogy). We took things day by day, assimilating all the new information, be it the Good, the Bad and the Ugly.
I can’t tell you how many times we thought we were leaving in a couple days, only to cancel and remain for an important appointment or to help with a necessary project or to complete a major purchase. We’ve become fake news perpetuators: ”We’re leaving next week…wait, the week after that… wait, strike that, don’t ask me anymore.” Friends would text us…”You’re STILL there? What’s the deal?”
Well, we’ve been assessing and re-assessing, modifying and fine-tuning our future. During the last two months, we’ve changed our plan daily, sometimes hourly. Captivated by the recent Olympics, I can only describe our closing sequence as a high-flying, halfpipe-snowboarding, 1080-degree, life-altering rotation. We just hope to land on two feet and not face-down in the snow.
And the judge’s scores are in…
- We are moving back to Michigan. Yup. Land of snow and ice. Who’d a thunk it? We’ve been here so long now we had to buy snow boots. Flip-flops? What’s a flip-flop? You know you’re getting used to the frozen tundra when 35 degrees is a “warm spell”.
- We are moving back to our hometown. Back to the beginning. Where it all started. It feels really weird. It feels weirdly normal. It feels like the right thing to do.
- We bought a house. Surprise! Once we determined this piece of the puzzle, finding our property (within a week and only 4 showings) was pure providence. That’s the good news. The bad news is I forgot just what a PITA it is to buy a house. And don’t get me started on unlocking our credit, rising interest rates and dealing with out-of-state-snowbird-sellers, sans printer or cell phones. The house purchase is a whole blog right there.
- We are shipping Indigo to Lake Huron! Bay City to be exact. On a flat-bed semi-truck. From Mexico. What???!!! We could not bring ourselves to sell her and container ships don’t sail to the Great Lakes (not from Mexico anyway), so truck shipping is the only option. While we’ve done it before from Maryland to Cali, international shipping across the Mexican border adds a whole ‘nother level of anxiety. Fun stuff. Why don’t we sail back to San Diego and ship from there? We’d love to, but we’d want to wait ‘til July for weather purposes and that’s too long of a delay. Plus, since it’s currently out of the water, half the shipping prep work is already done. Why don’t we live on the boat in Michigan? Did you actually read #1 above? We’re not that crazy!
- We are coming out. Of retirement that is. So all you people jealous of us “youngsters” retiring early can feel incredibly smug that we are headed back to the grind later this year. You’re welcome. Living on retirement income in Mexico on a paid-off boat is a piece of cake; but owning a house is a different story. And in Michigan, the heating bill alone is insane! What are we doing? That’s TBD. We’re hammering out steps 1-4 first. How many decisions do you expect in one month?
Now that we have closed on the house (as of today, actually), we are free to leave Michigan to complete the next steps of our crazy plan. Geeze, how much more can there be? Well…
We still need to drive down to Mexico, prep Indigo for shipping (2-3 weeks), get her on a truck, follow her across the border to Tucson, get her on another truck, follow her to our new Michigan marina, get our stuff off the boat and move into the house, drive to Atlanta, rent a moving truck (no, we didn’t get rid of ALL our stuff) and drive it back. Whew.
Then, after living in limbo for a year, we can actually be in our own house, in our own bed. (Well, after we buy a bed.) What a concept. And then, of course, "normal life" will ensue, consumed with initial house projects like painting and flooring and cleaning and fixing and buying furniture we no longer have. And don’t forget about getting Indigo reassembled and back in the water. So maaaybe we’ll be done with all that sometime in July. Or August. Maybe. I can’t promise we’ll be anywhere at any given date for the next several months. Again, one day at a time.
Are you happy?
Yes. We are satisfied. We’ve made the right choice.
Except for the snow. This has been one of the snowiest winters since 1880 and it just keeps coming! We’re going to have to work on loving snow. And ice. And muddy, dirt roads. And potholes - Michigan‘s potholes are worse than Mexico! Not kidding.
Yes, of course we’re sad for our forfeiture of travel freedom. We treasured our atypical nomadic lifestyle. We absolutely loved living on the boat IN the natural world, exploring pristine anchorages & quaint villages. We enjoyed the financial freedom of not owning a house and chasing the bulk of society in a never-ending rat-race. And who really wants a JOB?
But that kind of existence comes at a price. I’m not the first to opine that life on the water is not all cocktails and sunsets. Throw in the stressful sea-faring facet and the trials of living in a foreign country. To a certain extent, we thrived on knowing we could overcome any challenge. But sometimes economics don’t outweigh anxiety. And sometimes, family is more important than fun. This is one of those times.
It’s Never Over, ‘Til It’s Over
Ah, but fear not dear reader, the dream is not lost. Otherwise, why would we suffer the expense and difficulty of transporting Indigo all the way home? No, we’re just taking an extended pit stop. In fact, we are already starting to plan Indigo’s next cruising chapter. Our Mexican adventure may be concluding a bit earlier than expected, but our new Michigan adventure awaits.
Choices and Chocolates
Forrest Gump was right. Life IS like a box of chocolates. You never really know what you’re gonna get. But life is also a series of chocolate choices. We’ve explicitly chosen the ubiquitous Almond Cluster. For now. We know what we’re getting. It’s the right thing to do. But someday, we’ll again go in search of that elusive Butter Cream. We’ve found it before, and we’ll find it again.