On the 20th of this month (May) it has been 9 years that Carrie and I have been married. When I think about that it seems at the same time like the blink of an eye and like we’ve been together our whole lives. Some things have changed about our relationship but mostly we still act like we just met and still enjoy just being around one another.
As we cruised along the East Coast US or among island countries in the Caribbean for several years, doing some of those day-to-day things that make up life, like grocery shopping or finding a repair part, needed both of us to get them done, however we still do the grocery shopping together most of the time. I suppose some couples would prefer to let one person do that chore while the other takes care of something else; the “divide and conquer” approach. Not us; when we finished setting up camp in a new RV park recently in a location we’ve never been to before, Carrie lamented that our cupboard was getting thin on several things, and we just naturally headed off together to replenish our food supplies.
Carrie does most of the driving these days. I think it was in the Turks and Caicos Islands on our way back to the States in 2012 where we figured out that the model of “Dad driving while Mom sits shotgun” just doesn’t seem to work for us. In some ways she’s the better driver and I’m OK with that. My mind wanders too much, especially with new surroundings, and I sometimes don’t observe the speed limit, which drives her crazy. I feel more suited to navigating anyway. I’m good at finding our way to, in this case, the nearest grocery store with the help of our new best friend Google Maps, and along the way I note the location of other key businesses like the hardware store and a restaurant that looks good.
When we enter the grocery store we invariably start out together but soon I take an assignment from the list and we split up; bad idea. For the next 20 minutes (that drag on like an hour), we wander around the store looking for each other. If someone were in the back watching security cameras I’m sure they laugh and say “check this out!” as we each walk up and down the opposite side of the store looking down each aisle for the other, sometimes passing the end of the same aisle at the same time and missing the other person. It must look comical.
When cruising outside the US, grocery shopping really was a 2-person operation. You have to get our collection of tote bags into the dinghy and get ashore, find transportation to the nearest market, compare prices in the new currency, load up the groceries in your carrying bags, get transportation back to the dinghy dock, load the bags back to the dinghy and get the supplies back aboard and stowed. All the while you’re hoping the skies don’t open up and make a mess of things, getting the groceries soaked or finding the boat anchored in another spot. It’s a lot less stressful here in the States, but we still do it together because… well just because.
Yesterday when Carrie announced that she was going to do laundry, I gave a hearty “thumbs up” and immediately began helping her get the clothes and soap together. As she was leaving for the laundry machines there was a pause, and she asked “are you coming to help me fold?” I suppose one of us could really complete the laundry while the other completes some other worthwhile chore, but that doesn’t work for us either.
I find that I really enjoy being the first one to say “good morning” and the last one to say “good night” to Carrie every day. I normally don’t sleep very soundly and I’m often up at odd hours of the night. She, on the other hand, sleeps like the dead. She often goes to bed before me and I get up before her. I’ve seen her go to bed at 7:30 PM and sleep soundly through the night. I know because I spent hours during the night listening to her sleep.
We just don’t seem to require distance from one another like some couples periodically do. When we first headed off cruising together on the limited space of a sailboat, some people couldn’t understand how we could be so close together all of the time, and I would just smile and think “not a problem”. Maybe 9 years isn’t enough time to get tired of each other. Maybe doing the daily things in a foreign country was hard enough that we needed each other, but I just enjoy being around her.
When we were in the boatyard refitting “Firefly” we discovered the new computer tablets, those inexpensive little devices that allow each of us to have our own portal to the Information Superhighway. No more fighting over the laptop for some time on the Internet to keep up with friends or research the next boat project. Now that we both have tablets we spend hours sharing the links we’ve found or commenting on how one of our friends is getting along. Instead of pushing us apart it’s melded us together. Carrie has cultivated an amazing web of contacts on Facebook, and the news, information and trivia that she shares with me is something I always look forward to.
Most of the time in the courting stage of our relationship was spent dreaming about the Cruising Life together and working to make that dream a reality. There is a long list of ways that Carrie and I are alike, but one of the ways that we are very different is how we view a plan. Carrie normally keeps an eye on the big picture, the long view of our goal and why we’re doing the work required in reaching it, whereas I am more focused on what has to happen today to move us towards said goal. That’s not to say that she doesn’t need to get things moving once in a while. Sometimes I get really “wrapped around the axle” as it were, losing focus on what needs to happen next on a long list of daunting tasks. But I can also juggle several large projects at once and when one seems to stall while we wait for parts I can pick up progress on another one to bring them all to fruition. She may see that a little differently but that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.
During the periods of our Cruising Life when we had to go back to work and replenish the Cruising “Kitty”, I have found the time we spent apart at separate jobs to be the least enjoyable times in those 9-ish years. Thank goodness for a second phone and free texting. For most of the time we’ve spent cruising together we have only had one cell phone. C’mon, we’re always together anyway! It was interesting to see Carrie change from being a real estate agent who was always reachable by cell phone to not even wanting to carry one. When Carrie worked at Crown Bay Marina and I worked several part-time gigs as a Captain in St. Thomas, the phone number I could always reach her at was the number at the marina. If she was busy she or one of the other gals in the office would tell me to call back. In Marathon when she worked at the Glunz Ocean Resort and I once again worked several part-time gigs as a Captain (notice a pattern here?), I insisted that she get a second “pay as you go” phone so we could stay in touch without tying up her business line. I could text her and let her respond whenever she had a break to stay in touch throughout the day.
Trust me, there have been some rough spots over our 9 years together, but they thankfully don’t seem to last very long. I often times find that when I don’t like something that Carrie does or says, it turns out to be something that I’ve done or said and I ask myself, “just exactly who are you upset with anyway?” I work hard to remember through the times when we’re stressed or tired just how much we have, the great things we’ve done, and the things we still have to do together.
It took me 50 years to find her, but I found her and I’m keepin’ her.