The "Take It or Leave It" article was written as part of this month’s Raft UP and I seem to have taken the story in somewhat of my own tangent. To address this month’s questions more directly: What did you bring that you didn’t need? What did you leave behind that you wished you’d taken? What are your space splurges? What do you wish you’d known, that first year? Here goes:
Despite the massive downsizing, there were things that we took with us that we didn’t need. One was most first-aid supplies, but those are a different category because you take them along but don’t want to need them. The others? The books and the pasta machine and the pastels? Once we settled a bit into our new lives, I did get back to reading; although many of the books now are not the ones I brought; many of them came from independent bookstores in the places we visit and are specific to the local areas we’re in. The pasta machine is rusting in a bag somewhere as our creative cooking instead has evolved to incorporate new foods and styles as we travel – West Indies pumpkin, Southern grits. I’m holding out hope for the pastels, though. Still unused, they’re waiting on my special shelf along with some still-blank white paper. Maybe I’ll yet find that inspiring harbor and sunset. Oh yeah, and talent. Not yet sure where to find that.
What did I leave behind that I wished I had brought? Very little, but that winter scarf, for one. The Caribbean is warm, but there’s the small matter of getting there. There was one uncomfortably cold day in North Carolina on our first trip south. I ended up wearing 3 layers of clothing and foul-weather gear, every single article of warm clothing I had, and a cute green sundress I had optimistically brought along was pressed into service as a neck wrap.
There’s a sort of Zen of getting excess out of your life to leave space for new things to come in when you’re open to the unexpected and unscripted. This may be a philosophical truth, or maybe, less poetically, it’s just that Nature abhors a vacuum. Our empty lockers didn’t stay empty as they were filled with collected sea shells and local art. The practical items in our lazarettes, the sea boots and tools and life jackets and ever-so-space-efficient folding scooters we use for getting around when we don't own a car are now crammed to one side to allow room for the clear-bottomed inflatable kayak we found at the LL Bean outlet store in Maine. I never would have predicted the ultimate space splurge once we discovered living history and maritime reenacting – almost 1/3 of our drastically limited clothing storage space is devoted to articles more suitable for the 17th century than the 21st.
Finally, what I wish I knew that first year? That mold gets on everything. That books, condiments, and t-shirts have a way of multiplying until they outgrow their assigned storage space, and then more. That not everything made of glass has to stay ashore. Crystal serving bowls, for a boat our size, maybe yes, but my plastic measuring cup just never did it for me and after almost 10 years I’m back to Pyrex.
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