So Doug left Vancouver and is now on the boat and I’m spending my days waiting for the familiar ping of a WhatsApp message arriving and being pleased that the time difference is a respectable 21 hours. It was a crazy last few days: whizzing back from Texas, getting everything organized, and then him rushing off again. And now the house is all quiet and everything feels like it’s on hold, waiting for news from Illusion. (So far it’s mainly been about mold, gulls and, er, more mold. Oh, and how there’s no electricity. And that the batteries don’t work. And did I mention the bird poo? And the mold?!) Knowing that it’ll likely be a few days before he has enough internet access to write a full update on here, I get to do a little catch-up post about our recent USA trip.
After an amazing few days in San Francisco, we headed to Flower Mound, Texas, to stay with Doug’s mum, and hang out with his siblings and nephews and new baby niece. So great. There’s something special about having three generations of a family together, and the familiarity, comfort, and acceptance that goes with that. Most of our Vancouver life is based around people more or less our age and each time we go to see my family in Cumbria, England, or his in the States, we remember how good it is to be surrounded by people of differing ages, experiences and outlooks – who are happy to see you, however long it’s been, and act as if it was just yesterday you were there, sitting round the table, drinking tea and talking about the weather forecast.
Highlights this time included: meeting our new baby niece, Katie; seeing nephew Luke’s coin collection and hearing him talk knowledgeably about all sorts of stuff that’s he’s been reading about; watching Luke and Mark go crazy with ‘Uncle Doug’, then complaining “He’s playing rough” before launching themselves back at him; hearing more stories from Doug’s mum and hanging out, sharing her world for a while; looking through old photo albums with his sister Laurie; fun dinners and great Fort Worth visit with brother Jeff and sister-in-law Michelle…. and, well, all of it really. Just being with them and getting to feel part of their clan for a while.
I love thinking about all the people who are ‘family’ and how it’s a word that encompasses so much more than name, flesh and blood. I’m a big fan of reclaiming and renegotiating the concept of family values to rid it of its political implications and to create our own kinds of family groupings. But for once I wanted to also acknowledge our actual families – the people who have known us from the start, carried us, held us, watched us grow and start to walk and stumble and learn to row (I meant run, but row is a pretty cool typo) and grow and shrink and grow again.
Doug and I are lucky to both have families who welcome us home with open arms – and kitchen cupboards! We turn up, eat, drink, sit at our computers, stay in bed all morning, complain about how tired/jetlagged we are, expect lifts to and from railway stations and airports – that kind of thing. And, on top of that, we get to feel like honored guests, like they value us showing up and causing chaos in their normally quite organized lives, like even though we live miles away, we belong there. Having homes around the world where you know, whatever happens, you could just show up and everything will be alright, makes anything seem possible.
This isn’t really sailing related at all – except with Doug having just left, I was realizing how happy it makes us to have not only my brilliant bunch of Barnards (and Tweddles and others!) supporting us both with our latest plans, but also his warm, caring, welcoming family down in the States, telling me to visit if I get lonely while he’s away, and generally sharing the excitement of this adventure.
And then you add to that everyone else: squishelle, who signed Doug’s Will, drove him to the airport, then kept me busy all weekend so I wouldn’t spend it crying; Ryan who spent ages making a beautiful rope knot for Illusion; Veronica (in Scotland) who sent supplies of whisky, chocolate and teabags; Kate and Carol who are promising to make sure I learn more about sailing and boating while Doug’s away; Marguerite, who let us park our van at her place for the next few months; Mikee, Deb and John who are, as I type, making their way to Illusion, ready to help out with the refit; and everyone else who’s been checking in, making sure things are going ok … and… well, what can I say?
There really is no more amazing feeling than having a dream, and family and friends to help make it happen. Thank you!
Next post: less soppy stuff, more bird poo. Promise.