Thursday, December 31, 2015

Virtual New Year's Eve Party

We're  having a "virtual" New Year's Eve party here at Life Afloat.  We're sitting around the fire, sipping bubbly and chatting about the year in review:

* What was your favorite memory or most memorable day of 2015? Being at sea for the Perseids meteor shower in August. A close runner-up, acting the part of a "shipwrecked sailor from 1740" at a candle-light open house at a historic fort here in St Augustine last January.

* Someone new you met this year? Oh, so many people! The whole crew of the Spanish tall ship, and their friends and girlfriends, the whole extended family. The ones who stand out the most in my mind are ... oh, never mind, that would be all of them.  I learned from the genial cook David; and the bosun Xoco, who had participated in the initial construction and remained so passionate about the ship; the steady presence of Xavi the first officer; a volunteer that I sponsored who turned out to be a great fit -- she was both a (US) Navy brat and an archaeologist; 2 college student volunteers -- even though we were literally as old as their grandparents, it was fascinating to me to be friends with them as equals, shipmates; carpenter Juan who managed to be a good friend to Dan even though neither one of them could speak more than a few words in the other's language; engineer Ramiro, at 6'6" the ultimate gentle giant, he was always so protective of me;  effervescent photographer Karen, I know some great artists who are tortured souls and seem to draw inspiration from their pain, she gets her energy from utter joie de vivre; fun-loving yet hard-working agent Fernando and thoughtful, helpful teacher Kiki; Jenny, the only woman on the engineering staff; quiet competence of chief engineer Angel; and safety officer Gonzalo, who everyone totally trusted to distribute the shared tip moneys, he was so careful and detail-oriented; Roger who patiently instructed me on the basis of Spanish politics...and that's just part of the crew! Also newly met this year, several friends' new babies, Mallory, Ainsley, and Rina.

* Did you say goodbye to anyone this year? No deaths in my close circle, thankfully, but I allowed some unfulfilling friendships to fade away. (Hint: several of them supported the "wrong" candidate in U.S. politics. One of my friends pointed out that if you can let politics divide you, you weren't really friends in the first place, and I think that's true. At the same time, some things so clearly show your basic character/values that a friendship cannot heal.)

* Something you did for the first time in 2015? I strayed 100 feet from my comfort zone -- straight up, and straight down! I went deep diving in Aruba in February 100 feet below sea level, and climbing the rigging of the tall ship, 100 feet above sea level. Ate chicken. (Well, that wasn't the first time ever in my life, but it was the first time in about 30 years).

* Someone or something you influenced? Gotta be, the kid around 8 years old who, after learning that Dan and I live on a ship, looked in amazement and said, "You mean you don't have to have a house even if you are a grownup?" Close runner-up: A couple of years ago we did presentations for a homeschool group about navigation in the 16th century, and real pirate history. The kids made a day of it, dressing as pirates, etc. Afterwards much of the class, still dressed in their pirate clothing, and parents went out to dinner at a local Chinese restaurant buffet. I remember shocking all the kids by the example I set -- instead of healthy food selections, I went directly to the dessert bar and took 3 helpings, cake and pudding and pie.  "Hey," I defended my selection, "a pirate's life is likely to be very short before they are caught, remember I told you about that in class? Life's uncertain, eat dessert first!" (They loved it! LOVED it!) Two years later I got a note from our hosts.  She had overheard the kids playing "Two truths and a lie," a game where you make 3 statements about yourself and the other players have to discern which is the fib. One of the kids used, "I've eaten dinner with pirates at a Chinese restaurant," which of course was so outrageous that everyone would naturally assume that was the fib.  (But of course, it was true.) What delighted us was that 2+ years was a quarter of this kids young life, and what stood out was our wacky event. Now that's having an impact with living history!

* Something you are looking forward to in 2016? Spending another season with El Galeon, yes, but mostly, traveling with our own boat. We're considering moving it to Key West for next winter.

* What did you learn last year (new skill, something about yourself, anything)? This was surprisingly difficult! I've learned lots of facts, like how to say "dawn" in Spanish or that rice works better if you add salt to the cooking water. I've re-learned that I'm fine living in group settings, and that I'm okay spending the entire summer with only about 40 pieces of clothing.  That included warm- and cool-weather, t-shirts and shorts to long-sleeve pants and shirts, long underwear, hat, gloves, jacket, and foul weather gear, nice going-out-with-friends clothes and ship's uniform shirts.  My previous experiment in living with 33 items for 3 months stood me in good stead here. I was surprised to learn how much mental energy we spend just keeping our lives going (blog post on this soon!). On the ship, someone else worried about what to cook for dinner, someone else worried about maintenance, about where to visit next, etc; even about what we should wear that day (your uniform, of course: blue for coming into port or leaving port, white for talking with the public). How EASY life was, even though we were working very hard long hours every day, when we didn't have to spend our off-time just maintaining ourselves. The other thing I was surprised to learn was how much I **HATED** having my brain get fuzzy during the deep dive, even though we were warned it would happen. You would think, if I hate to have my brain get fuzzy, that I would not enjoy drinking wine or beer, hmmm....

* Did you make any resolutions last year? How did they turn out? Will you make any for next year? Only one: Have More Adventures, which I think came out rather well. (**ahem**). So for 2016, I'm going to repeat that one, and add "Ditch Some Baggage" (both mental and physical); and hope to continue writing/blogging.

(Feel free to add your own answers, in the comments below, or on Life Afloat's Facebook page)

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