Since our family and friends are scattered all up and down the East Coast we rented a car for the duration so we can easily visit hither and yon for less than a gazillion flights would cost us. And just like our boat motto we lifted from Basho — “The journey itself is home” — the road has always been a happy place for Jack and me. As dirt dwellers we rarely turned down an opportunity to load the car up with unhealthy snacks and burn down highways and explore back roads on our way to wherever
We never lived in Annapolis but it was where we were married on a boat under sail and when we filled out the paperwork to document Escape Velocity we chose Annapolis as our hailing port because we consider that day on a gentle reach on the Chesapeake Bay as the beginning of our dream to sail our own boat toward the setting sun.
Now whenever we come to Annapolis it’s a homecoming of sorts and we have memories of nearly every nook and cranny of town. .
For a couple of days we met up with old friends and new ones and dashed from cafe to cozy cafe in the damp chill we still aren’t used to. We check the weather in Bahia del Sol where Escape Velocity lies and there’s always a 50 degree F difference in temperature from what we’re experiencing here.
Despite the cold, or maybe because of it, the smells and sights and sounds of late autumn in the Mid-Atlantic remind me of Life Before Cruising. It’s been two years since we’ve been here and our new life has become so normal that the rush of stimuli is nearly overwhelming: the smell of damp leaves on the sidewalks and pathways, the intense fragrance of balsam fir from the holiday wreaths and garlands for sale, the sharp bite of winter wind, the unimaginable variety and quantity of goods in every shop, the perfection of each fruit and vegetable in supermarkets, the mix of foreign languages and different accents we hear on city streets. We’re back in a place that makes sense to us. We know where to buy whatever it is we need. With a car any errand can be accomplished in short order.
It’s an easy life, a familiar one, but we can’t seem to get over the wonder of the bounty and exuberance of “America.” In fact, sometimes I just burst into that song from West Side Story:
I like to be in America!
Okay by me in America!
Everything free in America!
For a small fee in America!
Our continued culture shock brings us back to another famous passage that guides us in our travels, this one from TS Eliot:
We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.
That’s what we’ve got here this trip, a new perspective on, appreciation of and awe in our homeland. The flipside is that our life has changed so much that the place seems alien to us and we miss our beloved EV, our quiet routine and of course the sunshine. We’re two days from the Winter Solstice and it’s dark most of the time. We’re sleeping late because the sun doesn’t wake us and we’re sleepy again by 8pm, making us rather dull companions I’m sure.
Still, being able to easily knock some long-needed items off our shopping list and especially spending time with friends and family is worth every bone chilling minute. We’re glad we came.