My friends often ask me what my plans are. My answer is usually my plans are always changing so I refrain from making them, I prefer to consider possibilities and decide when the time is right. Of course, sailing anywhere requires many course changes. Reaching any destination frequently comes with ups and downs, twists and turns, highs and lows. And any sailor knows in the course of life that the shortest distance between any two points is never a straight line. Some may reluctantly recognize, acknowledge or even accept life's destiny as rarely a definite destination. While humans may like to assume a foregone conclusion, uncertainty within a life's journey is a major certainty. For instance, knowing where my compass is heading doesn't mean that's where I will end up. Sometimes I have traveled gone far and wide to discover where my heart resides.
As I sat buckled to the backseat on the way towards La Garde Freinet, Ray, our professional driver, weaved circuitously through Provence's La Mourre Mountain range. Contributing to my dizzying condition was our hair-raising hairpin-turning, ravine-railing ride the last 30 kilometers to the village.
In order that my stomach and intestines might persuade the half sandwich I ate earlier to stay put, I decided to unbuckle my seatbelt. It was then I started feeling like a bruised, battered and beaten apple rolling around an empty fruit barrel, I was more than ready for our voyage, oh, I mean car ride,...to dock...oh, to park!
Sorry about my land departure...for a second there I thought I felt my lunch bob up and down my catamaran across the Florida Straits' Gulf Stream.
During the summer of 2017 Lainie and I began to correspond from afar - she in France and I ensconced on my catamaran near Miami. Somehow credit Facebook for bridging the time and space between old friends. As elementary classmates we had more developed in common ways than we realized, but as we weaved our way into more 21st century familiarity, we discovered we had much more than a common birthplace and schooling.
So after a month or more of conversing, we decided to meet in the US when she returned to our hometown of Easton, Maryland. Finally in the same time zone our innocent reacquainting banter seemed to spark a deeper connection. So instead of waiting until I was safely situated in the Bahamas, we decided to meet in the US.
When I couldn't find crew for sailing 1300 miles to the Chesapeake Bay to visit her, I instead chose to fly to Maryland to her and see if we had any in person chemistry. So with the excitement of two school age kids we reunited at her Easton home around the corner from my birthplace. It had been almost five decades since I left the Eastern Shore for other adventures. In many ways it felt surreal that I was returning to where I grew up and fall in love with an old friend there.
As the two of us became better acquainted, we reflected on the circuitous route we had taken to join forces. I had sailed away from Key West a couple of months before Hurricane Irma arrived and decimated southern Florida. Then the week before Irma arrived, I flew back to Florida to ready my Mystique for Irma. Two days before her arrival, I left her safely anchored near Key Biscayne. When my flight to Baltimore was cancelled, I was resigned and ready to stay aboard when the 100+ winds would engulf the Miami area. While I had been in Miami for the previous October's Hurricane Matthew, the prospect of surviving a Category 5 hurricane on an anchored boat was much different from Matthew's 30 knot gusts.
I would never have predicted n 2017 I would sail away from Key West mere weeks before Hurricane Irma devastated it. hurricane blew down, swamped and saturated the area....that my boat would somehow survive 130-150 mph winds and torrential rains a few weeks later when many other vessels were lost. That I would drive 23 hours north and return to my birthplace.
Now after a week in Provence, I have noticed French essence in almost everything. Sharing Lainie's petite maison, I found her essence in her French home. Her aesthetic talents on display, her culinary skills at mealtimes, her stick-shifting skills on serpentine roadways and most of all her delightful intelligence, calm and congenial nature coupled with her infectious smile and laughter. As I have enjoyed her companionship, she has introduced me to a mountains, markets villages, people, food, air. No wonder southwest France is such a wonderland!
Ever since I started to follow my instincts and intuition....GO with FLOW, life has . In the journey, I discovered more about relationship and love than I could have imagined. And to my surprise, I gradually unearthed more about myself and my destiny as well.