The weirdest thing about this whole experience is that it doesn’t feel weirder.
Weirder still is how quickly conceptions of what’s normal, comfortable, and even convenient can change.
I’ve been sleeping in a hammock for around 70+ nights now, and by the third evening, it felt normal. Comfortable, even.
When Fain arrived last week, we had a few nights of rotating hammocks while Jack finished getting his berth ready. Each night, one of us slept on a pallet on the plywood floor, two hammocks drooping over the floor-dweller, like a lumpy, gassy Sword of Damocles. I wasn’t exactly looking forward to my turn, but when I finally stretched out on the blanket, my first thought was: Wow! So much room! This is luxurious!
My next thought was: Wow! I can’t believe I just had that thought!
When we were still in the apartment, I was sampling instant coffees of the Illy and Hula Girl varieties. Y’know, the good stuff – to make up for the fact that I was giving up my mother-in-law’s vintage percolator, which brewed the perfect cup of coffee.
Then, as resources constricted, I picked up Sanka at the grocery store. Finally, an enormous jar of $1 Generic Instant Coffee caught my eye, and I thought: What the hell?
Y’know what? I really can’t tell much of a difference.
I had a closet full of fur and gauze and fringes back at the apartment. Now, all my clothes fit into two 1′ x 2′ plastic tubs. I’ve got a neatly rolled up “professional outfit” for those rare occasions when I actually meet with a client in person. Otherwise, I pretty much rotate through a few pairs of shorts and tank tops.
I had a large office with two Eames-style rocking chairs that no one ever rocked in, a canary yellow desk, and two enormous cork boards where I collected postcards from coffeeshops around the city. Now, I do my work in a corner of the public library. The work gets done just as well.
I do occasionally get tired of ramen noodles, oatmeal, and sandwiches – the staple fare of people with no actual kitchen appliances. But even that has its perks. When we splurge on a restaurant or a friend invites us to dinner, the taste of homemade chili or a garlic-rubbed grilled red drum brings tears to my eyes. I have a new appreciation for “real food.”
I was a little worried about Fain. After all, kids these days are soft, right? Isn’t that what the old fogies are always saying?
But no. Apparently, Fain’s adaptable, too. He immediately asked what he could do to help get this show on the road. He was eager to try out the hammock. He’s been totally satisfied to eat ramen on the floating dock. He don’t need no table. And the fact that showers aren’t as sacrosanct on a boat thrills him to no end.
Sometimes, figuring out all the moving parts in our new life feels like trying to stand up in a hammock. I can feel the shifting of reality under my feet. I feel sure I’m about to be shattered into a million pieces by discomfort and inconvenience and bad luck and stress – because it’s stressful, people. We’re out on a limb here. We’re off the map and totally clueless. The monster is swimming around the boat, and its name is Self-doubt and its brother’s name is What The Hell Were You Thinking, You Stupid Sot?
Sometimes, the temperatures soar or plummet and I feel like I can’t do another night. Sometimes, another baloney sandwich makes me want to curse the day I was born.
But honestly? Most days, it’s just weird that it’s not weirder.