Oct 22 2009

The Things that Change

Tag: introspection,musingsmattholmes @ 3:41 am

I have been unable to write any posts on this blog for some time due to differences in opinion and vision between Jon, Jonny, and I, which to this point I could neither ignore nor discuss dispassionately. I feel the need to address some issues before I can move forward as an author of this blog.

To start with some excellent news: I got married. Karen and I have been together for a little over three years. After the first year, we started planning our future as a permanent team.  We made it official back on the family farm in NJ and it was beautiful.  Nothing has changed since we got married and I don’t expect it to: our relationship was healthy and wonderful before; our relationship remains healthy and wonderful. She is the best decision I have ever made in my life (and I told her that in my vows).

When we first formulated this sailing plan, I had not yet met Karen (the plan was hatched about a year before I met Karen, and we bought the boat a year after I met Karen). Jon, Jonny, and I were bachelors when we decided that it would be a good idea to sail around the world–bachelors not by choice, but because none of us had found “the one”. The hitherto unsuccessful search for a woman had been the most popular topic of conversation among all three of us for a decade–far more popular and important a topic than climbing or sailing ever were. In retrospect, the only reason we ever entertained the notion of sailing around the world in the first place was because none of us were involved in relationships.

Even though I became quickly involved with Karen, and despite differing levels of participation and commitment among Jon and Jonny, I never stopped or even slacked in my unwavering drive to fix up the boat and do this trip. The trip was never in question, for me.

Karen loved me, and Karen knew that being with me involved a sailing trip, so Karen adopted the trip into her own plans for the future. Already interested in sailing, she took a sailing class and started imagining a two-year trip on a sailboat with three guys–only one of whom she was dating. It started out as my trip and my boat and my friends, but Karen bought into the trip in a way that has let me continue to pursue this dream.

At some point, I crossed a threshold and Karen and I became a team, a package that comes together or not at all. Karen is more important to me than any boat or any trip. If it is a question of ______ or Karen, no matter what you put in that blank the answer is still Karen.

My friends were happy for me because they agree with me that finding a mate is at the very top of the priority hierarchy above all else, without question. There was no need to explain why Karen comes before the boat; to say that I was in love with Karen was to say all.

And yet I continued putting all my time and money and effort and determination into fixing up the boat and preparing for the trip–that did not change.

Jon met a girl and fell in love, and I was happy for him. I didn’t know what that meant for Jon’s trip, but I knew that if she was the one for him then there was no telling what might come to pass.

When Jon and his girlfriend got pregnant, he made the obvious choice for a good guy who is in love. None of his friends doubted or questioned. I back his play without reservation–the love life and the search for a mate and the relationship is more important than a boat or a sailing trip. Things change–Jon’s life has headed down a different path now than he ever expected and he is embracing the new path better than anyone else I know ever could have. He’s rolling with the changes and making the best of everything. He’s doing the right thing and I support that.

Without a doubt, the changes in Jon’s life have had a direct effect on my own: all of a sudden he is out of the boat trip and not sailing around the world with us. And it all happened right as he was about to start putting in his time working on the boat, and take his turn paying for boat parts. But I haven’t felt even the slightest bit of anger or resentment towards Jon. The dramatic changes and responsibilities are in Jon’s life; the effects on my own life are mere ripples in comparison. More importantly, he is my best friend and I want what’s best for him and his life, regardless of the side effects it might have on mine.

Jonny’s involvement and commitment to the trip has changed. He has decided to limit his financial contributions and the duration of his participation in the sailing. Following the successful sale of his business and recent changes in the group dynamics, he started planning for a future that does not have fixing up the boat and sailing around the world at the top of the list.

In the initial stages of this endeavor, one of the most common questions I would answer is “how can you spend two years within 40ft of the same two guys?” and the related “how can you trust these guys with your life?”. My answer was invariably the same: although I had many other worries on my mind, I had complete confidence that the three of us guys would always get along–that was the one thing that was locked down tight. After all, I have known these guys for over a decade, and have had some close calls in extreme situations with each of them, and have counted on them with my life at times in the past where that statement was actually tested.

The dynamic broke down, and I have been humbled. If I can be wrong about the one thing about which I was most certain, I can be wrong about anything. Anything can happen. Anything could change tomorrow–in fact, these days I expect it to.

Some things haven’t changed (not yet at least). I continue to spend all of my time and money preparing to take a big sailing trip. I continue to get up at 6:30AM every day in order to go work on the boat (those days that I don’t work for money that is). I continue to read and research and figure out how to fix the boat and make a plan and make it happen. I continue to make lists of what we need and how to get it. I continue to drive to svendsens and lay down my credit card.

I don’t know how long the trip will last. Now that I’m bankrolling the boat repairs by myself, Karen and I have less money for living expenses for the actual trip. I don’t know if the boat will be ready to leave in January since the rest of the repairs are all on my shoulders. Karen and I are planning on sailing for as long as the money and the fun last–when one of those runs out, our trip will come to an end.

The plans have changed, the trip has changed, the crew has changed. The changes haven’t been of my choosing, but I can live with them. Things are rough at the moment; recently I have not enjoyed the time I spend on the boat. I feel like I am pushing through to the start, sacrificing my current happiness for a few more months before we are able to depart. I remain optimistic that the trip will happen and that all of the setbacks will have been worth the reward (or else I wouldn’t be keeping on keeping on). It’s a dangerous gamble, sacrificing current happiness for the promise of future reward: what if the promise doesn’t come through? Still I feel like it’s worth the gamble, worth the effort.  So I stick it out.