Wednesday, September 23, 2009

The Best Thing About Having Guests

We're trying to schedule some one-on-one time with each of our closest friends in the DC area in the last few weeks before we set sail for the Bahamas. Sunday, we spent the day with our cousins Rob and Amanda and their two sons. It's important to their parents that the boys have a broad sense of life's possibilities, and Charlie and Jamie are exactly the right age (7 and 4) to be fascinated with the idea of living on a boat. Until now, they'd seen kayaks and canoes and pontoon boats, but never before a boat that someone lived on full-time. "Like a little house," mom exclaimed, when she saw the upholstery and wood veneers below.

It was a lot of fun to see the boat through the boys' young eyes, as they found "cool" or "ooh" so many things we've come to take for granted. They climbed all over the boat and experimented with turning the winches and standing at the helm and the weight of the anchor. They slid the doors on the pantry and opened the lids on the storage lockers built into the table.They were intrigued with the V-berth, the idea that grown-ups would sleep in a bed with sides so you can't fall out, and we asked them to think about what would happen if you were sleeping in a regular bed and a big wave shakes the boat. They stood on the deck above, and looked down through the hatch while I demonstrated the pull-out shower faucet that you could hold in your hand. And they loved the idea that they could get the entire bathroom wet when taking a shower (I need to ask Amanda if this is a generic mischievous little boy thing, or if there's a story there!) They looked in the lockers and tried to prioritize which of their toys and books they would bring if that was all the space they had. We took them for a dinghy ride on the creek, where they saw ducks and herons and other boats big and small. They played in the playground and went for a dip in the pool, and for lunch at the Wet Dog cafe.

We did all the typical marina things they would enjoy, and their appreciation helped us suddenly realize all we had been taking for granted. That's the fascinating thing about having guests, the way they force you to look at the familiar through new eyes. We got a lovely thank-you note from the family, but really, for the gift of being reminded of how amazing our life afloat can be, I feel like we should be thanking them.

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