The last couple of weeks have been a wonderful whirlwind. We have been splitting our time between all the physical chores we need to do to get the boat ready, all the shoreside details that need to be sorted, and, most importantly, spending time with all the people we care about.
Although we both realize that we will never be done with getting the boat “just so,” (and when we think we are, something will come up either broken or ready for maintenance) Echo is ready for primetime. We had a expert mechanic (Lester McMurphy) over yesterday to go through the engine and teach me how to maintain the propulsion system. The arch and davit system (Whitewater Marine) is up and the dinghy hanging high out of the water and out of the way. Our personal Tupperware lady came through with tons of organizational stuff and we have improved our storage. Our canvas company (Dockside) came through with side panels we ordered to keep us out of the weather a little better in the cockpit. Pam of Pam’s Upholstery did a great job on the final few cushions for the cockpit.
On shoreside details, we have been dealing with the last of the stuff that needs to be either stored aboard, gotten rid of, given away, or put in long term storage. For the last 6 months my SUV has been my refuge of last resort for all the items for which I can’t quite decide which category applies. A scrap of nice wood, a coil of wire, an odd ball tool, a tube of glue, computer wires….it goes on and on. Nothing very important, but all the things you stick in a box in the basement. Probably never to be seen again. But I guess there is comfort either in knowing that the box is there or, more likely, comfort in never having been forced into making a decision about all that stuff. If you have space, all that stuff you accumulate can happily stay in the limbo zone and never be assigned to one of those final categories. I know what hoarders go through. Anyway, the SUV is cleaned out and, for the first time since I was 16, I have no car.
I cleaned out my office on Friday. How weird was that? 30 years of files, plaques on the wall, obligatory kid photos, artwork the kids made, gifts from colleagues, great ideas that became something, great ideas that never got beyond the scribbled note phase, art work the kids drew when they were stuck with me at work for some reason. Coffee cups. All the thousands of things you squirrel away over 30 years in a career. Saying goodbye to all the great people there that have done so much to make the company become what it is today. Or at least saying “so long” since I know I will be back for board meetings a few times each year. So, cleaned out the office, packed up my 2 little boxes of stuff, parked my company car out back, said my goodbyes, and sat in the conference room waiting for Mary to pick me up. Very Weird.
We have been party central at the boat getting our last home port entertainment opportunities in. Mary’s sibs and our nieces and nephews. My sibs and niece and nephew. Many old and dear friends. Our great neighbors from Edgewood. Dear friends we met from Nate’s school. A great day with Nate’s color guard coaches Mike and Bryan (that was a blast, they had the wisdom to arrange for a ride home and much beer was consumed.) My flying buddies and their families. And hanging with our new marina friends too (any excuse for a party with those folks.) And our Moms of course.
So Sunday now. Monday Nate’s monument is scheduled to be installed and we will visit Nate and Liam. Monday night, a get together at Mary’s mom’s house. And Tuesday morning we should be off.
All my life I have felt like I have been walking through doors and entering new and wonderful rooms. But always I felt like each door remained open and the old rooms were still connected and I could look through them and access the old places. My life house got bigger. I never had a sense that the doors were closing behind me and I always felt that I could reach back and touch what ever I wanted. Until the last few years I was blessed to be able to continue to accumulate kids and family and friends and love and stuff and new experiences, but never have to say goodbye to anyone or any thing. Today, different. Loosing Liam and Nate taught me that some doors close forever.
I’m sure someone smarter than me wrote this too, but there are phases in life. My first 50 years were a endless series of new doors to be opened and explored. Behind every door new space, a new room, a new experience, a new loved one, new stuff. None needed to be closed and I could reach into those rooms and touch whatever I wanted. Not like touch a memory, like really touch. The house of my life just continued to add more rooms and become more full and satisfying. You are one lucky guy when you can stay in that house for 50 years. Now I feel that I am in a new phase.
There still looks to be an endless series of doors ahead, but for the first time, doors are closing behind me and the house of my life is getting smaller. Some rooms are closing by choice, some by fate. I won’t walk through the door at the Edgewood house, Sarah and Brian won’t live with me, I won’t see our dads, our grandpas, or Liam, or Nate. I won’t have airplanes, I won’t build stuff in the garage.
Our trip is a recognition of the many future doors we will find and the new rooms we can explore. And a recognition that we are stepping into another phase. Not less excitement, not fewer new doors to open and rooms to add, but recognition of melancholy and loss too. Not less, but different.
Love you all.