Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Stylites at Sea

Yesterday we gave notice at Silas’ preschool, a move which struck fear into my heart. Actually, they don’t call it “preschool” here in New Zealand, they call it “crèche,” which is a French word meaning “that which prevents Mom from going batshit crazy.” Whatever you choose to call it, this magnificent institution has given us two days per week of baby-free productivity and adult conversation, and I am extremely nervous to see it go.

“Two weeks more?” asked the nice receptionist lady. “You’re off on your sailing adventure, then are you?”

“Yes, we’re off,” I confirmed, heart pounding in my chest.

She must have smelled the fear oozing from my pores. “He’ll be fine,” she reassured me.

“IT’S NOT THE KID I’M WORRIED ABOUT,” I shrieked, then corrected my voice to a more respectable level. “He’ll be fine. As long as he’s got us, he’s fine.”

“Fine,” she repeated.

“It’s… me,” I squeaked. How to explain to this woman how nervous I was to move back on my yacht?

For all she knows, it’s the Maltese Falcon, with a staff of twenty and a deep flight submarine, although the fact that I wear the same raggedy jeans every day might tip her off. She doesn’t know that we clean our dishes in sea water, shower with a tea kettle, and get one shelf each for our clothes. She’d be surprised to learn how rarely the toilet functions, and if I told her about the maggots we’ve met in the tropics, she’d probably call the cops.

And why would she guess? Why would anyone volunteer to live on a leaky boat, forgoing such modern pleasures as washing machines and cold beer, and periodically getting tossed around the cabin like a dried bean in a maraca?

There is an ancient tradition of saints and pilgrims, who do loony things like stand on a pillar in the desert for forty years. I would like to cast Peter and myself as modern-day stylites, enlightened ascetics seeking wisdom on the high seas. Perhaps we could build ourselves twin platforms at the top of our masts, from which we would pray fervently, hand down blessings to our disciples, and mortify our flesh with whips made from halyards.

Unfortunately, that image is flawed. First of all, we are too silly to have disciples. Secondly, we are hedonists, and I don’t think saints are allowed to sail naked, knocking back the rum drinks and trolling for sushi. And thirdly, I’m only engaging in the most reluctant maritime asceticism. As soon as we can afford it, I’m getting a refrigerator. And a washing machine.

And maybe, depending on how things work out, a deep flight submarine.


  1. I'm thinking about going up the pole for a few years. it would delay the job hunting. Seems to me there are plenty of stupid people out there to be your disciples. I mean, Jesus was a tramp, right?

  2. Get real lady....ever wonder all the other babies in the world are raised?
    Nothing special going on here...get over it...get a life.

    And a refrigerator and a washer/dryer.
    You'll feel better about yourself.

  3. So, should youngish,sailing & travel inclined women/couples forego having children?

    As your experience shows, kids add substantially to ones adult duties. In a world of limited resources, that translates into diverting time & energy from one area to another. Yeah, I know...society looks upon parenthood as something admirable and a contribution to the world, only the question is... does it add to YOUR existence?

    Are your missives about kids in jest or misgivings about parenthood? And no, saying that becoming a parent probably wasn't the best of ideas does NOT mean that you won't be an exemplary one.

  4. To my dear "Anonymous" readers: this blog is a humorous travelogue. That means I am joking, with the intention of making you laugh.

    If you would prefer to make smarmy comments about bad mothers, may I suggest

  5. Antonia, just a quick note to say I, like many of the non-commenting readers I'm sure, am a huge fan of your blog! Been following since a mention in Latitude38. I'm finding that in reading lots of blogs lately, the comment section tends to leave a bad taste in my mouth. Maybe I'll start a policy of not reading comments sections anymore.