Getting Settled

Claire swam for the first time without a floatie on Monday. On Wednesday, we were back at the pool with full snorkel gear for the whole family to practice for an outing this weekend to a nearby hotspot. She never wanted to come up to the surface!

My two favorite fish!

Claire swam on her own for the first time a few days ago. Something clicked at just the right time, she remembered what she’s learned from classes and practice, and was brave enough to get over her fear. And once she started, she never went back.

It happened in the middle of the day on Monday at a nearby pool, when Aaron normally would have been at the office all day. Except that he was there, encouraging her to keep swimming to him a little bit further, a little bit further each time. We were both there to see it.

That’s one of the many reasons why we’re doing this – to experience these amazing life moments together.

We’ve been here five days now (has it only been five days?!), and we’ve already had some amazing highs. The lows have been there, too. When we arrived at the boat, I was overjoyed and felt the same immediate sense of “this is home” that I experienced when we flew out to see her for the first time. But truthfully, those first three or four days, I was not at my finest.

After the long road trip from Oak Park, we got here and immediately dove into unloading all of our life possessions from the rental van. In the grand scheme of things, we didn’t bring much, but in cruising terms, we had triple what we should have. We were again buried in boxes, and you all know by now how well I do with that.

It also doesn’t help that our boat is in a slip that is about as far from the parking lot as you can possibly get, so Aaron and I had to haul countless loads of boxes in small dock carts in heat so oppressive you’re almost immediately drenched. We still aren’t done unpacking, but finally, in the last day or two, I can see the light at the end of the tunnel of “stuff.”

We’ve also shifted course a bit from our original plan to maintain our sanity (or find mine) and to not dive head first into absolutely everything at once (after all, isn’t moving across the country onto a boat enough for one month? 🙂 ). Originally, after getting here Saturday afternoon, we were planning to return the rental car on Wednesday and leave Riviera Beach City Marina, on the Intracoastal Waterway where our boat is docked, within a few days. We had our reasons and they were good ones – this marina is extremely expensive and with hardly any amenities, and we are still planning to head north to Georgia or South Carolina to wait out hurricane season.

But the next logical port is about an eight-hour run away. We managed to get all of our boxes out of the van, but our things were by no means put away yet. Aaron and I both had work deadlines. Boat issues had to be fixed (the air conditioner needed attention, there was a fuel leak with the generator, etc.) Not to mention the fact that we have had no time to get the boat off the dock, even for a short run to hoist the sails and check the engine.

Oh, and we have a 4-year-old 24-7 now who needs our attention, too.

It was all just too much pressure, and we thought, at least for this first month, let’s just give ourselves a break. We signed a lease for another month here (though we will likely leave sooner than that), and since there’s not really anything in walking distance here, we thought, what the heck, let’s just rent a car for another week. Sure, all of these decisions amount to more money than we were planning to spend this month. But sometimes, you have to make a decision based on what’s best for the family. There’s plenty of time for us to settle into this lifestyle a bit more gradually.

It’s been a trip, to be sure, but as I mentioned, there have also been unbelievable moments of joy. Like when Claire lit up in a monster-sized grin when she saw her room for the first time, or when she felt the ocean on her feet for the first time. Like when she swam on her own, or when we drove to the local snorkel/scuba outfitters and got gear for the whole family. We immediately went to the pool to have her try out her mask and tube, and right away, swimming underwater opened up a whole new world for her that she refused to leave all afternoon. There’s a highly rated snorkeling spot called Peanut Island almost spitting distance from our boat, and we’re planning to head there in the next few days.

Tomorrow morning, I will wake up with the sunrise, brew some coffee, sneak out while Claire and Aaron are still sleeping, and drive to the beach to start my day with the rhythm of the waves . I think it will be another one of the highs for this first week. And also, something that becomes part of my daily routine. What an amazing thought…

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6 thoughts on “Getting Settled

  1. Fascinating, as ever! It’s so much appreciated that you don’t try to gloss over any challenges. And how smart to take a breath (the boxes alone!), for the family, whether for a few days or the whole month. Write on!

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