Today is a good day, ladies! I am absolutely delighted to welcome Sara Hillratt back, who is writing about what she’s learning about marriage as she sails around the world with her husband. This is episode three of The Hillratt’s Voyage (you can catch up with past episodes here, and keep up with them at their gloriously re-designed blog, and flash back to their wedding graduate post). Right this second, Sara and Stof have made it from South Africa to their boat in Mexico, where they are learning about how marriage, all of marriage, is about the journey.
For the past six months, I’ve been explaining to people at home (Cape Town, South Africa) where our boat is. “If you follow the coast down from California to Mexico, a long finger splits off from the mainland. The area between the mainland and the finger is known as the Sea of Cortez. Now just inside the tip of the finger (before the fold of the first knuckle) is a beautiful bay where you’ll find a small city called La Paz. And that is where the Laura Takalani is right now.”
I felt like I was explaining a parallel universe.
Since we bought our boat in July, Stof and I have been preparing in one way or another for actually arriving in some other world called La Paz and beginning our journey across the Pacific. Our preparations moved into high gear in December when I finally resigned from the Bar and started “working” full time on wrapping up our lives, getting our admin in order for the voyage, handing over important projects, making sure there are sufficient safety nets in place for when we are on the high seas and trying to stock up on all the things we think we might need on the boat but (think we) won’t be able to get in Mexico. On top of this, we have thrown ourselves into Christmas and New Years and birthdays and weddings and dinners: there is something about the prospect of going away for two years that brings out the best daughter (son), sister (brother), aunt (uncle) and friend we could possibly be. It has been an exhausting and exhilarating frenzy of preparation for one immediate goal: getting to Mexico.
In the process of “getting to Mexico” our “team” worked well at times and at other times we bickered and battled. We’d vacillate between skating along smoothly whacking tasks off our to-do list, high-fiving at our joint success; and hacking along wondering what the bloody-hell the other person had been doing each day. We knew it would get better as soon as the stress had lifted. We just needed to get to the Laura Takalani.
I remarked on our blog at one stage that I was holding out through the craziness until I sipped my first bloody mary on the flight to Dubai (we took a rather round-about route from Cape Town to La Paz).
Inevitably, 1 February arrived and I sipped that first bloody mary. And a second – I love a bloody mary on an airplane… We flew through Dubai and Los Angeles with our obscene amount of luggage and we arrived at that gorgeous bay on the other side of the world just below the fold of the first knuckle on the Sea of Cortez. We returned to our lovely Laura Takalani.
I had imagined that we would feel proud of ourselves. That we’d step back and hold hands gazing at the Laura Takalani in wonder at what we had achieved together. The angels would sing and all would be marvelous.
And??? Flip, it’s almost more stressful here than it was in CT! Of course.
I remember being a little overwhelmed at the amount of petty arguing Stof and I engaged in during the first few months after our wedding. It struck me that we should have been more in love then than ever: we’d just gotten married (forcryinginabucket)! We’d celebrated our nuptials in the grandest of styles! Why on earth were we not basking in the glory of a lovey-dovey union?
Imperceptibly a few months after our wedding, and without any event to mark the change, the quarreling ceased and we moved onto a more tranquil phase. (Then we decided to sell our house and travel across the Pacific…)
I’m starting to realise that, particularly in marriage, a big event is not an end point, just a notch along the way. Achieving a grand goal does not immediately change the way the relationship works or the way we feel. Making something that seemed impossible, possible is not an end point. There is always a next day with new goals and new challenges.
Of course the goals will shape and mold the way our family works in the long run. Doing crazy stuff like getting married and setting sail across an enormous ocean (or buying a house or having a baby or getting a dog) are great big landmarks, but after the landmark is another day. And another.
So here we are, finally in Mexico. We’ve moved into another type of frenzy and another phase of our relationship. How does it feel today? Like the kind of day where we have to scrub and paint the hull. Perhaps we’ll have time to stand back and pat each other on the back when we finally set sail… perhaps we’ll just have to change the sails and hopefully sneak in a smooch and a wink as we’re doing it.
Sara Hillratt is traveling across the Pacific with her husband, starting with sailing from Mexico to Australia. Their adventure starts in February 2011. She’s writing about it at their blog Stofnsara, but also here, as part of exploring what a marriage can be on Reclaiming Wife. If you want to start closer to the beginning, you can read her post about money and independence, read all about their trip here, and about Sara & Stof’s marvelous South African wedding here.