It’s tempting to simply plop the great, adventurous, glorious moments in here and hint at the minor trauma that goes with it in the past tense, blurred and comedically spiced by the passage of enough time. But three or four years in a tiny static tub preparing for adventure will inevitably have its howling, braying, mind-frothing downsides.
When I tell folks how small our home is there is usually one common response: “that must be awful when you have a fight”. Yes, yes it is. If you want to sulk on Gwen you have to a) obtain permission – stake out which area out of the saloon, aft cabin and bed is to be your domain and stick to it and b) banish yourself to it for the foreseeable, still within hearing and smelling distance of your new mortal enemy, close enough to notice if their breathing changes or their phone vibrates to tell them it needs charging. They cough quietly like the sadistic, calculating bastards they are. They type on their keyboard with no thought for your poor frayed nerves. Oh, you could go on deck or out for a walk, but on these windswept, broke and rain-pelted nights that’s not a realistic option. You’re stuck, and you’re miserable.
I won’t bang on much about why we’ve been fighting, and of course, we’ve stopped now. We’ve had a big big chat about stuff that’s simmered for months, and we’ve gotten a large portion of the whole shebang off our chests after a couple of weeks of gradual distancing and a couple of days of insane screaming and silent brooding. We’ve had some wine and watched Youtube videos of animals being adorable. We’ve shared the ridiculous things we had half-planned to do if we split up (I considered defacing all the headlining I painted, selling an organ and trying to get a job and a new boat in Tobago, or if I was feeling really brave maybe stealing the boat while Rich was ashore). Talking calmly and resolving to communicate better, the dull cousins of screaming and sulking, always win in the end.
It isn’t easy, living with your most beloved in a tiny tiny space, particularly one that is a work in progress that will never be done, particularly when one of you turns into an angry defensive fucker when he works too hard and the other one into a timid, self-pitying martyr when she can’t find a solution. We all have our faults, and in these close quarters they are added to all the other crap that you’re dealing with and magnified tenfold, and something snaps.
So yes, that’s awful. But we’re done with it for a good while.
David Bowie died this week, and I am so very grateful that he lived. I don’t tend to blog about that sort of thing, but I think this is relevant because one of his examples to the world is that it’s okay to be you, that your strangeness is beautiful. I have believed this for a long time but don’t always live by it. My belated new year’s resolution is to do that. I have realised recently that I have goals of my own – not static, set ones in a “five year plan” kind of a framework – but dreams of gaining some sort of creative training and work, and of dressing, speaking, singing, writing, creating and dreaming how I goddam well want, not how anyone else, even Rich, thinks I should. I need to please people less and please me more.
He, of course, encourages that, and looks forward to my next tantrum haircut and obscene personal project (recently I’ve been writing shit songs in five minutes on a dodgy keyboard with my friend Didds), and I can only hope that when I figure out what I can do with my creative urges while we’re at sea that he’ll support and help with that too. I figure I’ve helped out quite a bit with his dream, so I’m hopeful.
That dream, now a shared dream, now an actual boat on the actual water waiting patiently for its actual adventure, keeps us going through another winter and another argument and another trip to the showers across a perilously icy pontoon. Tonight we go to bed happy again, curled in our mouldy cold bed while condensation drips off the skylights, dreaming of an anchorage with birds and fish and sunshine at the end of a smooth sail. Storms come, arguments come, but there’s no point anticipating them. And there’s always a really bloody nice bit at the end.