When we moved aboard Nine of Cups I told David that I'd be “at home” on Cups when I could maneuver through the boat at night and not need to put the lights on … when I was so familiar with the location of the steps up and down, the location of the handholds and the feel of the sole under my feet that I could feel my way comfortably around the boat in the dark. It didn't take as long as I thought for Cups to become home. Now that we've been away for so long and had various “homes” in the States, it's really hard to know where home is any more.
Even though we travel from port to port and haven't put down roots anywhere in the last 14 years, we always knew where home was … on Nine of Cups. Whenever we left, we knew she would be waiting for us. It was never more than a few months at most though … a trip home or some extended inland travel. She was always a welcome sight when we returned.
Looking back over the past year, it seems almost a bad dream that she's still in Adelaide and waiting, probably impatiently, for the return of her errant crew. I've been in the States since last February and David followed last April. Since that time, we've been transients ... living out of suitcases, sleeping in other people's houses and beds, sharing house chores and putting our sailing life on hold. It's hard to know where we live any more. We lived in Bea's tiny apartment caring for her for awhile. We've taken over a room at my sister's since August. In between, we lived for a week or two in Vegas visiting David's mom and another week or two in Denver saying goodbye to Casey and then recently to spend time with our family there. We were in a different hotel room every night. Cups was always in the back of our minds, but she seemed so very far away. It was better not to think of her until we had a plan to return.
It certainly wasn't our plan to be gone for so long. It was definitely not intentional. Things happened which required us to show up, stay and be responsible. Through it all, though, we knew Cups was waiting for us and we yearned to be back with her and resume our life.
Nearly a year has passed and so much has happened that at times, it has seemed almost overwhelming. Now, however, things are back to as close to normal as we can expect and it's time to go home. David is beginning to order boat parts and think about what to pack for his return trip in a couple of weeks. We've talked about the impact of this lost year. We'll have to learn to live on the boat all over again. Cups will need some heavy duty TLC and a lot of work before she's ready to head to sea again. We'll have to toughen up after our easy land life. With our memories, we'll have to learn to sail all over. Trite as it may sound, home is where the heart is and we're heading there soon.