“Captain!” I heard a voice call from behind. I reflexively turned around, only to see a man in black slacks, a white shirt with fancy shoulder epaulets, and shiny metal wings. The barista at the airport café was of course shouting to the airline pilot, and not this dirty-looking sailor in desperate need of a haircut. I had become so accustomed to taxi drivers, food vendors, and others shouting, “captain” at me – deservingly or not – that I couldn’t help but laugh at myself when I turned around.
Needless to say, it has been difficult adjusting back into a land-based existence. I came back for three reasons: to see friends and family, to make new plans for Tarka, and to tie-up a few loose ends. Seeing people has been simultaneously the best and most difficult part of my return to land. The familiar faces are still here, as are their associated warm/funny/thoughtful/fun personalities. On the boat, I probably miss this the most — even more so than functioning toilets and hot showers. However, I have been finding it difficult to reconnect…
The truth is, four months isn’t very long, and accordingly, not a lot has changed here. Meanwhile, four months sailing on a small boat alone and exploring tropical islands, has had a dilation effect, making it feel as if much more time has passed. On the outside, there’s the sun-damaged skin, but on the inside I carry experiences that are challenging to communicate to people with less-insane lifestyles. An attempt to do so, in my mind, comes off as self-important. And maybe it is, for this adventure is mine alone, and it should not be thrust upon an unwilling audience. I fear then, that barring these four months of my life from conversation, leaves me just a sunburnt shell of superficiality.
My experiences are not unique and post-travel depression is a well-known phenomenon. We as humans are just not designed for the reality-shocks thrust upon us by the marvel of air travel. When I fly back to Grenada in two weeks, I do not plan to return to the US again until the completion of my Pacific crossing. I would like to think that it will be easier next time, but by then, I’ll have a year’s worth of un-relatable experiences, and just a more sunburnt shell.
That said, I’m thrilled to be building three weeks worth of memorable experiences in my time back here. I love seeing people, and wish so much that I had more time and energy to travel the country and see more people. I won’t dare admit to getting lonely aboard Tarka, but if I ever do, I’ll have these new memories stowed away, ready to shed a ray of light in the darkness of the next storm.
Two more weeks, and it’s going to be a blast!