Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Agelseb, part 2

When we were fourteen, Agelseb's parents decided to sell everything and live on a sailboat. True story.

They sold their house, quit their jobs, and drastically downsized their furniture, books, and knick-knacks. The really important and sentimental stuff was put in storage in a shed in my back yard, and a surprising amount of stuff was put on the boat. A 41-foot sailboat has a shocking amount of storage space.

And then they were off.

It was really hard on Agelseb, and she fought it as long and as hard as she could. Imagine being fourteen and taken away from all your friends and family. And it wasn't even like she was moving to a new town, where she could settle in and make new friends and call or email us regularly. They'd be living on a boat, moving around all over the place for three years. And electricity would be both expensive and hard to obtain, so electronic communication would be scarce, and even postcards could only be sent when they were docked somewhere.

Plus, Agelseb and her parents all three suffer from some degree of sea-sickness. So all in all, not a totally awesome plan.

41 feet is not a whole lot of space. It's less when an angry teenager is sharing it with her parents and a dog. It's even less than that when it's a boat, because there's no yard or cars to store extra stuff, and no way to leave the house and get away when you need some space. Your entire world is those 41 feet. On the bright side, they spent a lot of time in warmer climates, like Trinidad and Puerto Rico, so they could be out on the deck or in the water most days. But everything gets damp when you live on a boat, so there's always a faint mildew smell and sometimes your stuff gets ruined and what if you just want to have a milkshake or something? You know that you can't really freeze stuff on a little sailboat? You can't take long showers, either. And in addition to spending your time on schoolwork all alone, you can't go to the mall afterwards and you have to get up late at night to take your turn on watch. Yeah, that's real. It's not just something you have to do in the movies. There are still pirates in the world, not to mention storms and other boats and so forth. Someone has to be on watch at all times. Even if all three of you are puking your guts out.

I visited once, along with Aunt Sis. We stayed for about a month. The boat got even smaller, and our misery was added to by the fact that Aunt Sis is mentally handicapped and didn't really understand why we couldn't turn on the air conditioning. She complained a lot, but we all love her so we did our best to 1) accommodate her requests and make her comfortable and 2) ignore her whining.

Eventually, they decided to cut their trip short. Money was running low, Agelseb had come back for an extended visit and was resisting the return to the sea, and the call of the ocean can eventually be tuned out. They plan to write a book one day, but in the meantime, they pretty much have the monopoly on cool icebreaker stories. Not to mention that Agelseb, while still partly wishing she'd never gone, did appreciate the opportunity to live on a boat and sail the coast of North, South, and Central America. Plus she rarely takes things like hot running water and high speed internet for granted.

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