After a long weary winter of toil we have been eating up spring as though we’d never seen sunshine before, so apologies for the prolonged absence from words. Even now there is very little news other than hey, the sun is shining and so are our faces. Hey, we’re still not sailing, but we’re still close. Hey.
Emancipation from the shed had a strange effect at first. Annoyances, resentments, injuries that had had to be suppressed to get us through the constant work and planning and support and did I mention work, suddenly found an escape gap. I flipped out. It was needed. For a week as we did the last little jobs and cleared our stuff from the shed (and waited to put my last post on here) there was little in my mind but a catalogue of complaint, writing and rewriting itself in my head, sputtering moronically from my lips – I wanted my boyfriend back, I wanted my efforts recognised, I wanted never again to have to go through that shuddering hell. I hadn’t realised how far into survival mode I had sunk in those last shed weeks until I felt the daylight at the end. I am not a goddam boatbuilder and though I’ll help and help as best I can I never want to feel that weight of expectation, of never having done quite enough in the grand obsessive slogging nightmare, ever again. It gives Richard terrific drive but it burns me out in both body and mind, and I had begun to feel that I was of no importance unless a tool of some sort was in my hand. I wanted me back, now. NOW.
Rich flipped out in return – a combination of frustration with mine, exhaustion and (if you ask me) blindness to what manner of shitfest we’d just been through. There was an almighty explosion ricocheting with every manner of argument cliche, and then a steady scramble back to the relief of our cosy, cuddly near-normality. Peace at last, and a real chance to enjoy the bliss of being back on the water, with amenities close at hand and the sky a hatch away.
May came and spring sprung. Suddenly I had free time and at first I was terrified by it. I couldn’t draw any more, couldn’t rest without feeling guilty, couldn’t understand a world in which there is not something that needs to be done right now. When it hit me, it was glorious. Didds’ birthday party, Richard’s birthday, my (not a) surprise birthday karaoke – the world was suddenly about enjoying yourself again. Sod working at home – I work really hard at my job. Spare moments became opportunities to wander the fields, observing, photographing, writing, drinking chai, ending up in the pub, smoking, not running, eating myself into blubbery bliss. I have friends and I live in heaven! How did I forget.
Rich went back to work, I got more hours and in the evenings we’d play with kayaks that someone didn’t want (free toys) and fish off the back of the boat. And glory of glories – I got to start my own project. A few months back I designed a giant wearable puppet and for the last couple of weeks I’ve been making it in a secret hideaway.
But nothing was getting done on the boat.
So as June arrived we made another list. This one’s a lot shorter than the last, but is not without its humdingers – notably the electrics, which Rich reluctantly finished off last week. The solar panels are up and wired in, as is the main switchboard, and we have some USB sockets for charging devices once we’re off the grid. Serenity’s fixed up (I learned how to scarph in fresh bits of wood to replace the rotten ones in the gunnel) and back on the water. We’ve bought some stuff, bolted the fire down, got some shelves and secured some cupboard doors with magnets in between our various excursions and a couple of heady nights of celebration.
As June wanes, urgency is mounting. We need to get the coach roof bolted down and stuff stowed away but we’re putting aside details like the nav lights and VHF to get the rigging ready, to get a first short sail out of the way so we can find out how much more needs to be done before Gwen can take her first proper voyage. This glorious evening I helped hoist Rich up the mast to attach the peak halliards, staysail halliard and some sort of jib halliard (he’s not quite sure what’s going on with that). I’m really fucking excited, but Rich seems composed as though it’s business as usual. I think forward to our first sail, whatever that will be like, the exhilaration of Gwen’s tip as she’s blown along, and the immense pride I’ll feel in the small jobs and big plans I’ve contributed to her transformation. What that will feel like for Rich, who has bought her, toiled on her and spent every spare penny on her for nearly three years, I can only imagine. For now he is consumed with the next job to be done, and still enjoying like me the freedom of long summer days in the company of a truly loved one and the best home in the world.