We are selling everything, buying a boat, and preparing to sail around the world! I catch myself wanting to roll my eyes every time I say it because it is so cliche. The most common response I get is “wow,” followed by the predictable question, “what made you guys decide to do this?”
Well, a lot of things really.
When it comes to a person’s big decision is there ever one singular event that sparks a dramatic change? Maybe in some rare instances, yes, but I think the more usual experience is that many factors play into an individual deciding he or she needs a dramatic change. For us, the short answer is life made us decide to embark on this adventure. However, the slightly longer answer probably explains it better.
Ed and I first met seven years ago when I had recently joined a soaring (as in glider flying) club. We have both long been pilots, for recreation, but we were both relatively new to flying sailplanes. Ed had joined the club a few years before I did in 2013. We didn’t hit it off right away, but a little after a year of being acquainted with each other we found that we had a lot in common and greatly enjoyed each other’s company. Dating followed soon after, relationship, love, marriage…happy ending? Almost?
The really big thing we have in common is we had both been divorced for a few years, and we both brought our kids to a new marriage. Ed has three, I have one, and they are aged 10-22. Raising kids is a strain on any relationship, starting one anew with four already in the picture often felt impossible.
I was working as an air traffic controller, he was newly “retired” (his company pays him to stay away). Kids were getting older, and getting REALLY into sports. My shift work schedule was blending extremely poorly with the needs of the family. Honestly, I was ready to be done with that career when I met Ed. I had cornered myself into a dead-end job because of my single mom status. We ultimately decided I would set that career aside in 2016 so I could focus more at home and have some schedule flexibility to tend to family and kids’ needs. That lasted all of about a few months before I realized I am not the stay at home mom type.
At the encouragement of Ed I decided to apply to law school. We both figured I’d be a good fit for that line of work for a variety of reasons. I loved law school, and it was a wonderful experience. It was a great challenge, it was often a welcome respite from dealing with some really tough kid issues (more on that another time), and most importantly, I got to experience a slice of life very different from air traffic control. Ed, in the mean time, took a contract gig in the bay area to help pay some unexpected bills that came up. He flew down early Monday morning, and flew back late Thursday evening, and I was back to single parenting half of the week while juggling my law school studies.
Then Covid-19 happened, and our life, like everyone else’s, was overturned in an instant.
I was finishing my last semester of law school, which quickly shifted to an online format, and Ed’s contract got canceled. Job prospects were not looking super promising for me (who hires during a pandemic?), Ed was now “retired” again, my son left for his dad’s during Spring break and decided to stay for a while, Ed’s youngest returned home from boarding school (more on that later), and my son, with blessing of all of us parent folk, asked to continue school at his dad’s house. In effect, my ex-husband and I would be switching our parenting roles.
So many things changed overnight, and we were faced with the reality that our usual distractions from the truth of our life were erased in an instant. The truth is, we were not happy with our life, and we were fast approaching being empty-nesters for the most part. I figured we would have some time to figure out what our next steps were going to be, and then I got, what I can only describe as “the phone call,” that forced us to choose.
I got a fantastic job offer at a law firm with a group of folks I adored–and I was devastated.
My first reaction was, “oh crap, I thought I had more time to think about this.” Which was followed by, “I’d be an idiot if I don’t accept; I’m not going to get a better one.” That soon got replaced with the truth–this is not what I was looking for out of life! I also knew that Ed would not be happy with my being immersed in work to fulfill 1850+ billable hours annually. It would have doomed our marriage. We both prioritized career over relationship in our first marriages, and we knew exactly where that would lead us now. We were obviously unwilling to repeat mistakes from the past.
We had discussed for years how awesome it would be to “someday” be able to go sailing when the stars aligned, all the kids were into adulthood, we had made enough money, and every other damn excuse that we all use to not jump into the pool without testing the water first. I was faced with a choice: do I take the job and keep living the status quo, or do I rip off the band-aid and tell my husband, “that’s it, we have to get rid of everything and do this sailing thing!”
It felt so wrong to say no to a new legal career. It felt selfish and self-indulgent. It felt like I was thrusting myself into irrelevance. I had to take a step back and look at the bigger picture. Who gets to the end of one’s life and regrets not having devoted more time to a career?
And that was my “ah-ha” moment. It was so clear. How could I have walked so many years on the Earth and not seen it? How was I so blind? How were we both so blind? Yeah…we drank the Kool-aid…same as everyone else.
Convincing Ed we needed to do this…well…it did not take much convincing.
That brings us to what I imagine is a question many folks have. You’ve decided to go sail around the world. What do you do first?
Answer: look at boat porn together! Videos, articles, yacht world, oh-my!
That part is fun. Then comes the real slap in the face–what are we going to do with all of our stuff?!? We are still figuring that out, but I will post an update soon!