Saturday, November 17, 2012

Five Failed Attempts To Feel Sorry For Myself

Friends, I'm having a little difficulty with this post. Maybe you can help me out. We are about 800 nm from New Zealand, and I'm trying to make the point that I'm kind of sad to be leaving the tropics. But every way I try to tackle the issue… well, you'll see.

Attempt #1: No more mermaids

A few days ago, I was snorkeling with Erik and the girls. There is a fishing boat wrecked on the reef in Ha'afeva, and it has become the usual habitat for coral and fish. Stylish delighted in seeing how deep she could dive, peering through rusty hatches and surprising the shyer fish. Indy discovered she could blow bubbles around her mask and snorkel, and was gainfully occupied in increasing the length and strength of her exhalations. I drifted off the wreck to look over the staghorn coral garden next door, when suddenly I realized: this is it. My last snorkel. The world of tropical coral gardens was closing to me for half a year.

Cut! Well, I mean. I can hear you all weeping into your hankies. Boo hoo for Amy, no more daily snorkel amongst the sharks and healthy reefs.

Years ago, a friend introduced me to the concept of "Champagne Problems." (Forgive me if this is nothing new; this may be a common phrase for all I know.) A Champagne Problem is a non-problem, a my-biggest-issue-is-what-sort-of-champagne-to-drink problem. A problem only a person enjoying the great privilege of having all of life's true needs taken care of could possibly call a problem. And that is where I have landed. I hang my head in shame.

So, I strike through attempt no. 1 as grossly insensitive. Let's try again.

Attempt #2: It's cold down there

I've never been a cold-weather person. I have a mild circulation problem that makes winter pretty uncomfortable; if I want to enjoy the great outdoors, I need to wrap up like the Michelin man and keep the fun under 30 minutes duration or lose the use of my extremities.

One of the appeals in moving aboard Papillon was avoiding the January chill for a few years. But I have fond memories of the girls building snowmen, tobogganing, ice skating, and making snow forts in the backyard, and, in my own mind, I've built a rosy picture of how pretty winter was. Then a little rain cloud passes by and the temperature dips to 20 C and I start to feel very chilly, and I remember that, in Southern Ontario winter, the thermometer would have another forty or fifty degrees to fall. I remember scraping ice off my car, stuffing the girls into snowsuits, the colds and flus, the snow plow closing off my driveway, and none of it seems so romantic any longer.

We are on our way to New Zealand. On most passages, we lounge around in bathing suits and bake in the hot, hot sun. But on this passage, I'm reminded that we are headed into a temperate clime. Daytime is still t-shirt-and-shorts territory, but at night I've actually unpacked my long winter underwear to use as pajamas.

We've heard from friends ahead of us that it is only 11 C in Auckland right now. Isn't spring supposed to be turning into summer down there? Even worse, the girls have outgrown their cool-weather clothes, so Mom is going to have to go shopping when we arrive, a dreaded task at any time.

Stop, stop, stop. We were doing okay for a while there. But let's remember our readership. It is mid-November, and most of our friends up north are hurtling straight towards the long, cold winter I've painted in such ugly strokes. 11 C is not going to sound like much to complain about. And I've pointed out that summer is coming, meaning the weather is getting better, not worse. This is not a way to build sympathy. The icing on the cake is the shopping thing. You don't have clothes? You haven't needed long pants for two years? Hold on, my hankie is saturated with tears.

Okay, shake it off.

Attempt #3: We are stuck in New Zealand for five whole months.

Nope. I'm not even going to try to write that one.

Attempt #4: We have so many repairs to do.

Nothing is going to be worse than the painting/fridge debacle in Cartagena. Your correspondent is battle-hardened.

Attempt #5: We're leaving our friends behind?

No we aren't; they are all sailing to NZ, too.

All right, time to regroup and reassess. What have we learned? Yes, leaving the tropics behind temporarily is kind of sad, but going to New Zealand is awesome. Did I mention it is a place I've always wanted to visit? And I get to explore it with my husband and kids for five whole months. My in-laws are coming for a month, my parents hopefully will, too. Before we know it, we will be bidding a fond farewell to Hobbit-land and be headed back into the tropics. Maybe Fiji, maybe French Polynesia again, maybe…

Maybe I don't feel so sorry for myself anymore.

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Anonymous said...

So the cat is out of the bag & now we know what is to come on the next leg of the journey. You are taking Bilbo Baggins to heart.

We are both impressed with the speed with which the 4 of you are travelling.
Love Mom & Dad

Anonymous said...

Fünf Monate in Neuseeland ist wirklich wirklich fürchterlich!! Mein Mitleid schleicht euch hinterher ... das Land ist so hässlich und die Leute dort unfreundlich! Tut euch das nicht an ;-)

Liebe Grüße

Kate said...

Boo hoo. Sounds terrible.

I am glad you only have Champagne Problems. I love you all may all your problems be champagne.

Love Kate