Always Homesick

Part of traveling is the anticipation of leaving, the other, of coming home. Pithy, I know. But what that really means is that you’re always homesick for somewhere.

I have so missed my family and close friends on this trip; I probably seemed a bit overzealous when we finally met some other young families here in Georgetown. I nearly attacked poor Helene on the beach one day, and then abandoned her mid-conversation another day when introduced to Carla. The former is here with her husband and two boys (our older boys’ ages) for five months in a rental, escaping predictable life and winter in North Carolina. The latter is the first mate on a catamaran called Begonia, taking an ambitious year-long journey with her husband and two kids (a girl and a boy near Sarah and Sam’s ages). The three families together formed some kind of perfect chemistry, where everyone felt instantly comfortable, and the kids each had an age-matched playmate. That’s a rare concoction. Rare, and short-lived in this lifestyle. That brings me to the second cause of homesickness. The first thing we’ll do when we get back to Florida is get together with our families, but we will all the while be missing the people we have met on this trip. We just can’t win. Or, as Jay put it, there’s always something to look forward to.

We are waxing nostalgic about our trip through the Bahamas and we haven’t even left yet. What will we miss about cruising here? Aside from the people we have met, we will also miss the atmosphere. For example, the quiet. Almost never do we hear airplanes zooming by overhead or sirens or car motors. There is the occasional passing dinghy, it is true, but that is only in crowded anchorages like those near George Town. The dark sky is another thing I have begun to take for granted. I can look up at any time of night and spy an old friend in a constellation; I don’t even bother to get out my star chart and binoculars anymore. There are millions of visible stars here, not that I’ve counted, but it is hard to get a sky like this near civilization, since civilization means electricity, and, consequently, light pollution. The crystal-clear cerulean water, which we never get tired of looking at or jumping into, will be another thing missed, perhaps most by the children, who swim almost every day. The freedom and independence of this lifestyle appeal to me and Jay, so we are reluctant to come back to a dock, and the things on land that seem to draw us in and keep us tied up. I hope we remember how much we love being “out here” and don’t get stuck for very long. We have a plan for getting away again, and a feeling of success about this trip that will hopefully combat the complacency that comes with living near shore.

Of course, the other side of the coin is that there are things for which I can’t wait to get back. I am looking forward to happy reunions with friends and family, as are the kids, who can’t wait to see their grandparents, playmates and cousins. The other day, I noticed that the shopping carts at Exuma Markets are old “Publix” carts, and I had a good chuckle—I’m positively drooling for a real grocery store, and even, gasp! A health food store. It’s hard to find things that are not pre-packaged or canned or inexpensive enough to buy fresh (I just splurged on an $8 pineapple). I also can’t wait to get some things ready for the impending birth of our baby girl in the spring—meeting with my midwife in Sarasota, building a crib, buying a few necessities, and general nesting. And, I’m ashamed to admit, the hot showers, electric washers and dryers and swimming pool at our marina are also calling my name from afar.

Even as I long for the creature comforts of a familiar environment, I know I will miss going exploring in new places with our children, and no sooner will we be tied up to the dock than we will begin discussions about the next cruise. That is as it should be—a natural ebb and flow—we go out, have a great time, come back, touch base and regroup, and then do it again when we’re ready. Jay is right with his glass half-full analysis, but I am still feeling a little melancholy, knowing I will always be missing something.  That sweet fellowship we found here with the family on Begonia and the family staying at February Point is made all the more precious because we all share that bittersweet appreciation for the temporary nature of our adventures. This is a trip we will never forget, but also never duplicate.