Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Getting Started

"So," asked my new colleague Trish sociably, "how're you settling in?" I had just moved here from Michigan and it was Day 4 of my new job at Headquarters. Husband Dan was still in Michigan finishing his teaching commitment; he would join me at the end of the semester.

"Well," I told Trish, "I'm still experimenting. I still haven't figured out the right time to leave to miss the worst of the traffic on the Beltway."She rolled her eyes at my naivete. "Have you tried 4 AM? Why Annapolis, anyway? Why not somewhere closer to the office?"

So I told her about our love for sailing and the water, and how we couldn't get this close and not take advantage of the opportunity to live in a place with such a distinctive character. Then she casually asked the question I'd been expecting and dreading: "How about your new place?"

Choosing my words very, very carefully, I answered, "Well, it's reeeally reeeally small, but it has everything - a place to socialize, a place to sit and think, a place to cook, and a place to sleep. And, if I look out the window over the range I can just see the boats going up and down the creek."

Every word was perfectly true...and perfectly misleading. Because the part I'd left out was that our new home on the water was "on" the water in a literal sense - we were planning to live on our sailboat.Why the secrecy? Well, I didn't have a sense of how my new boss would react - he was old-school gracious and stunningly conservative. Would he have second thoughts about his newest employee, wondering if he'd hired a hippie rebel, and how would she fit in? Nor did I know how Dan and I would react, if we would find friends in the people around us, and if even after 20 years of marriage we could fit our lives into a 33 foot boat. If our great experiment was to be a failure or a career-inhibitor, I wanted as few witnesses as possible.

Fast forward 5 years.Living on a boat has been, most of all, fabulously fun. I've learned a lot about boats, and weather, and Bay ecology, and downsizing. I've learned how to figure out what things really matter. I've got a different relationship with my "stuff." I've found a tremendous sense of community in my fellow boaters and liveaboards. And my boss? My fears on that score were groundless. Most people were more curious than judgemental.That curiousity is what inspired this blog, random thoughts about what day-to-day life in Annapolis is like, when "home" is a sailboat.

(An article about living aboard by the same title first appeared in the Capital on 5/27/07)


  1. Glad it worked out for you. Personally I give no personal , money or family information to co- workers or employers.

  2. I understand the privacy concerns; but at the same time, my job required a certain amount of transparency. I was you're making decisions about spending tax dollars, so, for example, I had to file financial disclosures to prove no conflict of interest. Nor would it be appropriate for me to comment on proposals to build a new road if that would influence my commute -- kinda like approving my own personal billion-dollar highway -- so they legitmately needed to know where I lived.