It’s an hour before dawn on Christmas Day and Escape Velocity floats perfectly still at a dock at Rebak Marina in Langkawi, Malaysia. The marina is part of a resort, and even this early the whine of an electric cart and the rumble of luggage wheels on the dock ramp tells me there are guests boarding the little private ferry to the big island for an early flight. In a few minutes the ferry will motor past D-dock into the channel and all will be peaceful again.
We came into the marina because we needed to be in a more social environment for the holidays. A downside to our chosen life is that certain times of the year remind us of what we miss of “home.” Thanksgiving is a big one for me because it always involved a wintry road trip to reconnect with family we hadn’t seen since the last Thanksgiving. And since we’ve been cruising the extended holiday season of December often leaves me feeling more empty than joyful as I think of what we’re missing. I miss the general atmosphere of anticipation as we prepared for entertaining; I miss the aromas of roasting vegetables, spicy samosa filling, sweet cinnamon buns. I miss the last-minute run to the Strip District and taking a number at the cheese counter at Penn Mac and seeing that I’m at least 100 numbers away from being served but not stressing because that gives me time to wriggle my basket through the press of spirited shoppers and find the other exotic items on my list. I miss our traditional Cassidy Christmas Eve curry dinner, where everyone is relaxed except our hostess Mary, and getting her to sit down, enjoy the amazing meal she presents and take her kudos is a yearly challenge.
Mostly I miss the time to be with the people I love, to share their troubles and celebrate their joys. I’m so grateful to be cruising in this era of global communications and particularly social media because I feel connected to most of my friends and family in a way that was unimaginable when we first started to plan for this life. I love every photo of new babies, grandkids, cats and dogs, every rant and praise, every sad joke, every plate of food. These small moments are the things we miss when we’re no longer living next door or across town. I think that the people who pooh-pooh social media because it can be mundane and inane are missing the point. Yes, we would prefer to meet for breakfast in person. But when that’s impossible we sure love seeing a friend’s post of our favorite breakfast place and some yummy-looking pancakes. We love the views from the back porch of the latest snowfall, the hike you took this morning, what you’re cooking at home.
The idea for Escape Velocity’s “view from the back porch” emerged many years ago when Jack was a cameraman on a small cruise ship in the Caribbean for a couple of weeks and cell phones (for us) were new. Every morning he sent a photo of where he was to share the trip with me. Since we both traveled often for work it became a thing from then on and it’s the same now with our friends and family on social media. Those shares — however mundane — allow us to continue to be a part of your lives even while we’re far away. Keep ’em coming, folks!
The sky is beginning to lighten. Resort staff are chattering noisily as they arrive on the tiny ferry. Unlike other years I have no early morning cooking or baking to do because the resort is hosting a massive Christmas brunch and all our boater friends will be there. This is our family now, the ever-evolving community of long-distance sailors who are also missing their loved ones and who share their troubles and joys with each other.
We’re lucky to be in Malaysia this holiday season because, as one of our Grab Car (think Uber) drivers said, when I asked why there were so many Christmas decorations in a Muslim country, “We celebrate everything!” And they do. We have rarely seen such over-the-top excess as we did in Kuala Lumpur a few weeks ago. It’s funny to see holiday displays featuring snow scenes in a climate where we’ll be spending our afternoon taking refuge from the oppressive heat in a refrigerated pool.
Even though the largest percentage of Malaysians are Muslim, this is a truly multicultural and tolerant country and we’re enjoying being part of it.
The sun is up. Jack has lit a mosquito coil to keep the nasties at bay, and I think a cup of coffee is in my future. We both wish you all peace in your mind, joy in your soul, and love in your heart every day of your life.