Thursday, October 07, 2004

Over and...not out

I'm back! I'm backity back! We got in very late last night after a very long journey. Then I had to go to WORK this morning, nightmare of nightmares. There are big goings on there. But perhaps more importantly, since I have been cut off from oxygen, I mean, internet access for the last two weeks, I also have no idea of what has been happening in Blogland. The loop, me, far out of and all that... So I have a lot of catching up to do.

But first I will tell you a few things about my adventures on the High Seas.

Firstly, E. and I did manage to rendez-vous at the airport as planned. He was not just on time but early, and very contrite. Spending three days bouncing around in a small wooden boat in rough swells with three other smelly, snoring guys was apparently enough to forcefully illustrate to him the sheer folly of his ways. He practically hurled himself at me as I came off the flight from Scotland, gibbering incoherently with delight at seeing my funny little face.

Oh, and amongst all the exclamations of how much he missed me was a confession that the trip had cost him an astronomical amount of money. Really. I had to extract the final sum from him in a slow and tortuous interrogation, but eventually he revealed exactly. how. much.

At which point I had to go find a bench to sit down on and put my head between my knees while breathing into a paper bag. Never mind, it's only money la la la. The important thing is that he had a good time. Which he didn't... and..oh, bugger, let's move on, shall we.

Has your flight ever been delayed at Gatwick Airport? No? Well, mine has, plenty of times. In fact, a couple years ago, we were stranded there on New Year's Eve and actually had to sleep at the airport. So you might say I have a fairly intimate working knowledge of the place. So on this occasion, when our flight was delayed by four hours, I very quickly became catatonic with boredom. The obvious thing to do was to read a book. But I have this weird habit, whereby I don't want to read any of my books or magazines til I get to whereever I am going, because otherwise I might use up all my reading material, and then what would I do. I did however surrepitiously leaf through all the magazines on the news stands. While we waited. For four fucking hours.

It might not have been so bad except that we had a four hour trip upon our arrival on the other end, including a ferry ride, to get where we were going. We landed at midnight. So yes, it was four in the morning by the time we got to our destination.

And even that might not have been so bad, except we had to be up at 9am to start- wait for it- yacht training! As in learning how to sail the yacht. Now, seeing how this was a sailing holiday, this should not have come as a huge shock. But this was the part of the brochure I was a little sketchy about. I sorta figured this would involve learning how to tie a few funny knots and maybe do a little winching or whatever with the sails. But admittedly, I was quite vague on the particulars.

What the training really involved was five people on a not very big boat, tripping over each other. For four days, 9am to 6pm. Us and another couple, and an instructor, who was a slip of a girl far too wise for her years. The other couple was a nice, good-looking pair, but slightly vacuous and befuddled by everything. Happily, they appeared to be even worse at sailing then we were, which cheered E. and I up.

Together we embarked on endless mooring practice, jumping off and on the boat with ropes and lines in every different direction. Anchoring, taking bearings with a compass, or learning how to do certain things with the sails, depending on which way the wind was blowing. Tying knots. Man overboard. How to set off flares in an emergency, or call on the VHF radio. For example, did you know that when speaking on the radio, when you want a reply, you say "Over". When you are done with the conversation, you say "Out" or else "Standing by on..." whatever channel. It is therefore totally inaccurate to say "Over and Out". Doing so will earn you fifty lashes.

All this activity, all this leaping around in the fresh air- it was fun, yes, in a way. But it was absolutely exhausting. At the end of the second day, E. and I lay sprawled on the bed in the hotel, wide-eyed with fatigue in a floppy pile. Finally, E. raised his head slightly, and poked me in the belly with his index finger.

"Shouldn't we be having sex?" he asked in a pale voice.

"Too tired," I whimpered.

"But....but...but, oh, you're right, me too," he agreed.

The weather then turned crappy, and very windy which made it even more challenging. E. turned out to be rather clueless about how it all worked, which surprised me a little given the manly (not to mention expensive) sailing weekend he had just "enjoyed". But by the end of the training, I was feeling as if we had both learned lots. Ready to head out on our own! Slip the leeward line! Gybe ho!

At which point the instructor told me I needed to do an extra day. Me and only me. Out of the four of us. The dippy couple, on the other hand, were signed off, and sent away.

"I want you to go out tomorrow for an extra day," she said to me.

I looked at E. He raised his eyebrows. I know he can read my mind at times, and he was getting ready to say something diplomatic.

"I'd really like to have a day off. From sailing. I haven't had a break. No chance to sleep late even one day since we got out here, " I explained.

"And I'm supposed to be on vacation," I added for good measure.

"Well. OK. A day off, then you can go out the day after that," she said.

"I'd really rather not," I said.

"I think you really better had," she said, in a firm tone of voice. Meaning if I didn't there would be no two of us on our own. No gybe ho, no Master and Commander.

E. and I went back up to the hotel room. And I bawled like I haven't done in ages. I mean, ripping, sobbing heaving crying, of an intensity I have not experienced in a long time, even in a year of infertility. I failed! I fucking well failed, where everyone else had passed. This was supposed to be fun! It was our vacation. But instead of lying by the pool sipping a margarita in the sun, I was going to spend another day in the rain, bashing my knees against the seat while somebody accidentally bumped me in the ass with the tiller. Being made to go to what seemed to be ridiculous lengths while everybody else breezed through...and it was just too much like...well, like the way I have felt for so long now.

I sobbed in the shower, on the terrace, under the covers. E. kept patting me and bringing me drinks, which was nice, but not hugely effective, until finally he crawled into bed with me and spooned me for half an hour, whispering comforting things into my ear.

We had a day off. And then I got back on the fucking boat and did the extra day. It pissed it down with rain for hours, was freezing cold, and for extra amusement value, I fell off the boarding plank getting back on the boat after lunch. As in, all the way into the water. In front of the whole marina. Happily, I had my thermals on under my wet weather gear, but it was still more than a bit uncomfy, plus I gashed my shin. Lovely. And then I got back on the fucking boat and finished the day.

There was one other extremely hairy interlude on the first day out on the flotilla with just the two of us on our own boat. There we were merrily sailing along, getting the hang of doing everything without five other people to trip over. The weather was fine, the wind was good. Suddenly, during an exposed passage between two islands, the wind picked up and we hit some horrendous swell. The boat was being thrown about so badly we had to harness ourselves on, at which point there was a problem with the sail and it was all looking not a little alarming. I decided this was a good time to have an all out panic attack, complete with high pitched keening noices and being sick over the side. When we finally made it to harbour, I immediately went below, pouring half a bottle of strong drink down my throat in order to calm down.

So yeah, not all fun.

But those were the worst bits. After all that sturm and drang, there were wonderful times too. There was, mercifully, absolutely no baby talk whatsoever from any of the other couples, all of whom were childless. I ate and drank whatever I wanted and ignored, for the first time in over a year, anything to do with my cycle. After that first scary day we had a hot, sunny and almost windless week, with flat calm waters (not so good for sailing, but mighty soothing). Dolphins leaping off the starboard bow. Anchoring in amazing little bays off secluded islands. Brilliant starlight nights. Some excellent company with which to share a companionable gin and tonic on deck. Lastly, I finally got to grips with the sailing, learning to enjoy it.

Now back at home, I am ready to pick up where I left off. I have realised afresh that this habit of stubborn resilience is one which is now so ingrained that I find myself doing things, in more than one area of my life, that once would have finished me off completely. Fall down, get up. Fall in, get up. Fall over, get up.

Sail on.


At 8:28 PM, Blogger Anna H. said...

Sail on, indeed.

So glad you're back, Mare (you'd think I couldn't figure out how long 'two weeks' was, given how often I'd pop back to your site...) and that you had such a heavenly holiday (eventually!). You deserved a good break.

We missed you.


At 8:40 PM, Blogger Jen P said...

Gah Mare. It's not the type of holiday I'd go on, but I'm glad there was a happier ending than expected!!

Glad you're back and hope like hell good things start happening.

At 10:08 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

So glad that you are back! It made me realize how addicted I am to your blog! Count me in the group that couldn't remember when you would be back and checked your site every day. The last part of the trip sounded wonderful- especially the not worrying about your cycle part.


At 10:15 PM, Blogger Soper said...

Yea! Yea! Yea for being home! I went sailing for a week with the inlaws once -- you REALLY gotta love somebody to do that.

And my MIL made dinner with chicken stock, when I had been a vegetarian for 10 years.

Really, really gotta love somebody...

At 10:15 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yea! Welcome back Mare. You were missed! Sounds like quite the adventure... only now I have Christopher Cross stuck in my head.

A shout out to all the haiku artists - thanks for making me smile. All I could do was whack penguins. And I felt might guilty about that since I work at a wildlife sanctuary.


At 10:17 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh Mare!

So glad you're back. I missed you so much. Sorry the trip wasn't the greatest, but hey you've paid your dues, only smooth sailing allowed from now on.


At 10:37 PM, Blogger Orodemniades said...

Welcome back!

At 10:42 PM, Blogger Miss W said...

Welcome back Mare! It took the entire first week for me to remember you were gone and stop checking...and then by Friday I started in with the "what if in Scotland '2 weeks' really means 'back by the 2nd Friday'?" So I had to start checking again, hoping that the sea hadn't swallowed you!

So glad you had a good time (sort of hehe) and got the break you needed.

At 11:55 PM, Blogger Julianna said...

Welcome! Welcome Back!!!

We missed you!

At 11:57 PM, Blogger Stacy said...

Glad your back. The swing was fun but not as much fun as reading your posts.

At 1:31 AM, Blogger sherry said...

Mare!!!!! I'm so glad you're back!!! I'm sorry to hear about the delay and bashed shin, but I'm sure you were beautiful all the while.

C'mon over for a spell...I've got TONS to tell ya!

At 1:43 AM, Blogger Toni said...

I'm so glad you're back!!! And that you had a good time. I hope you had carefree sex...on a boat...that's the best :)

Glad you're back...

At 2:31 AM, Blogger Lala said...

Yeah, you're back. But why, oh why was she so mean to you?

At 2:54 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

She' s back! She's back! And she learned something, cursed someone and she had a great time.

I've missed your writing. Welcome home.


At 3:11 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am so happy you're back!!! I started checking back last week, just in case you may have come back early. That's how much you were missed!
Hope you can get some rest after all that vacation :)

At 3:28 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Welcome home! I missed you!

~Brooklyn Girl

At 4:16 AM, Blogger Lala said...

Sorry, I meant Yay! not yeah, as in "what's new there?" But no, I meant Yay! Nothing wrong with upping the comment count, is there? As if it needs any help from me, hee hee.

At 5:05 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Okay, can't resist... "Come sail away, come sail away, come sail away with me-heeee"... No? No takers for the 80's?

Glad your back.


At 5:22 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Do you get the feeling people missed you????

Uh. Yup!!!

I know I did.

Glad to have you back.

Glad once all of the hard prep work was completed you and E were able to just cruise along and enjoy your vacation, life and each other!!


At 8:00 AM, Blogger DeadBug said...

Yippee! Welcome back!

Brain too addled to think of anything clever to say, so just another Yippee! and another Welcome back! and a We missed you!


At 1:21 PM, Blogger Dee said...

Welcome home! Missed you--and so glad you (eventually) had a really good time on vacation.

Mare's back--yea!!

At 6:34 AM, Blogger lobster girl said...

You're back, you're back! Whoopee! I missed you tons.

Thank goodness you made it back alive! Good grief, those first few days on the boat sounded like sheer hell. That would have reduced me to tears too, without a doubt.

But as you say, you made it through. Sounds like you're the stronger for it. Lovely, fighting, brave Mare. I'm so glad you're back.

At 7:36 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mare! You're back! I'm so glad. You're sailing stories brought back some memories for me. I once went on a sailing trip with my husband, two friends and the "captain" (my friend's father). The captain is an eccentric man who spent the first 1/2 hour going over the rules of the boat, one of which was what to do in case of "man overboard." After the speech, I hopped fromt the dock onto the boat, slipped and fell straight into the murky ocean where I flailed about until someone dropped a ladder. (Oh, and my husband tried to "save" me by grabbing my passport holder which was on a string around my neck. He only succeeded in giving me "string burn" while choking me. It was quite a spectacle.) Also, throughout the course of the week, I fell down the stairs into the center part (can't remember any terminology), once while carrying a full bag of ice which dumped out everywhere. I was a disaster, and will not volunteer to go sailing again any time soon. I feel your pain. Glad there were some good parts for you too.
Love, Heidi


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