It's only been about three months, but things change. We moved October 1st, '09. Three months later, on Martin Luther King day of 2010, we went back to the old stomping grounds.
MLK day -- celebrating human dignity and skiing -- what a combination. How this? Letting justice roll down like waters in a mighty stream; and skiing down the mountain like a mighty stream. No? We all stand in the same lift line, but we attack the mountain in unique ways based on our abilities and limitations. Sorry, that's all I've got right now.
We visited neighbors -- with barely a glance at the house we lived in for 15 years. It's someone else's house now, what do we care? We went to our old bluegrass band and book clubs. We went to our church potluck dinner. We went out with the family. We had a great party with friends.
All delightful. But...
It's only been three months, but we felt like visitors. We were in a kind of "vacation" mode -- even though we were working during the days.
What makes it a visit?
Is this just more of the Thomas Wolfe title, You Can't Go Home Again? And if so, is it a positive or a negative thing?
Pragmatically, there's the "my own uncomfortable couch", and "my own dumpy closet with the door that won't shut". Our apartment reflects three core values: walkability, cheap and multi-purpose. So things don't work perfectly. The couch is a folding futon bed; doing both it does neither really well. But there's a deep comfort in the familiarity that has grown in just three months.
After a week of intense, in-your-face partying, a quiet lay-around-on-the-couch evening was pleasant. But we didn't just go straight to the couch. We went to the local pizza place as a kind of "alone but not isolated" transition. We were out, seeing folks, but in the middle distance; neither close up nor remotely.
How does sitting on my own cheap, uncomfortable couch square with traveling widely in Red Ranger?
I think the answer is that Red Ranger allows us to bring our uncomfortable couch with us. It may be a new marina or new anchorage, maybe even a new country, but it's our comfortable, well-worn boat. The one we fixed and cleaned and upgraded with our own sweaty grease-stained fingers. [For grease, look at the 2-4-C with Teflon. That's some kind of grease.]
You can't go home again because your couch is somewhere else.
Ambit and Habit
The old -- and familiar -- include the old, familiar boundaries. While it's delightful to sail the old, familiar waters, they are the old waters. The old waters won't change. The inconvenient rocks haven't moved; the shallows are still in the way; the dumb marina layout is still dumb.
The old waters won't change. After seeing the new, any irritating feature of the old waters seems much more prominent.
You can't go home again because the old starts to feel a little uncomfortable. The old ambit doesn't feel quite right when you've got a new working location.
Going home again reinforces our foundation. Going home again creates a kind of ballast that helps us when we struggle with the new and different.
If it weren't for going home, we wouldn't really appreciate what we've found. We thought our old neighborhood was very walkable. After going north for a week, we can better compare the new neighborhood and the old. And we like many aspects of the new neighborhood's walkability.
If it weren't for going home, we wouldn't appreciate what we've left behind. Friends, fellow musicians, book club and the rich interaction of ideas are something we can savor more knowing that they're transient.
We have two choices.
Change the way we sail. A new boat in old waters is an opportunity for growth and skill-building. David loaned me his catamaran for an afternoon in Lake George. It was the same old lake, but at those speeds, it's also a new world.
Change where we sail. The old boat in new waters is a different kind of growth, change and evolution. We dragged the old KaDiMa all around and sailed her in many places.
Chartering sailboats in many different locations showed me that we do look forward do this kind of change. We really like having the same old couch in a brand new place.
Lake Champlain. 2004 and 2006. 2006 Lake Champlain. The first trip was less than a week, but was a good chance to get the feet wet. The second trip was a complete delight, perhaps because the water and boat were familiar.
Tortola. 2007 Tortola. Sailing from anchorage to anchorage and doing a lot of hanging out. The locale is -- perhaps -- perfect because the weather is tame, the distances short, the amenities lavish.
A Northbound Delivery. 2008 Ft. Myer to Hilton Head. Comforts were stripped down to my own bunk and coffee mug. And still, there was great familiarity in that port-side settee, if only for a week.