Limbo, Limbo

Have you ever felt like you were flailing between who you were and who you were becoming?  Like in junior high when you couldn't quite figure out where you fit in or where you wanted to fit in?    That's how I'm feeling today, stuck in limbo between my new cruising life and the one I knew for years in suburban Colorado.

A few days ago, we finished the painstaking job of packing up the boat to protect it while it will be on land in a boatyard for the next six weeks.  We'd compiled a back-breaking spreadsheet of items we needed to check off before we could head to the airport on Thursday.

And while crisp, cool Fall weather was creeping into Colorado, Grenada was blasting us with temperatures in the high 90's and full blown humidity.  We literally could have swabbed the deck with the constant stream of perspiration running down our backs!  Needless to say, it was a torturous couple of days.  Mark and I agreed that we'd do anything to avoid storing the boat ever again!

Taking down the Screecher sail
Lifting Field Trip out at Grenada Marine
We put the crew to work, but it only was a matter of time before they found better things to do!
Oblivious to the huge Travel Lift that was behind them!!
The next morning, we woke at 5 a.m. (that's 3 a.m. Colorado time) and headed to the Grenada airport.  The excitement of going home rustled up the energy we needed to survive a full day of flying, first to Miami, then to Colorado after a 5+ hour layover.  The first thing we did when we arrived in Miami was to indulge in something we hadn't had access to for a while... Starbucks.  And it was perfect timing to enjoy a seasonal Pumpkin Spice Latte.  Ahh, heaven in a paper cup.

But as I sipped my comforting caffeine, I opened my eyes to an entirely new world than the one I'd been living in for the past year.  And that's when the limbo began.

I watched people rushing by each other, their expensive luggage covered in fancy brand labels, feet stuffed into 4 inch platform sandals sparkling with bling, and too busy talking on the phone to say hello to the Starbucks barista.

My mind flashed to the streets of St. George's, Grenada, people sitting on the street curb at the bus stop selling fruit from a rusted old shopping cart as they limed (a Caribbean term for hanging out and chatting) with friends who wandered by, oblivious to time or what brand flip flops they wore.  Part of me was doing a mental inventory of what clothes and shoes were waiting for me in my Colorado closet.  Would I be able to fit into this world again?  Needless to say, I've never been a glitzy-type, but a girl wants to feel like she is part of the "in-crowd", you know?  Meanwhile, the other part of me, the part that God has been molding over this journey, is saddened.  Saddened by the disconnect of it all, by the idea that all these people are fighting to be seen, to be important, to be admired, but are so busy looking at themselves that they miss the lives they rush past.
I have to take a deep breath and say a little prayer for our time at home.  Please, Lord, help me keep my eyes on things above and not on things that will only fade away.  Even as we work on another to-do list, let relationships take precedence over progress and connection come before conformity.

We finally arrive in Colorado, greeted by sweet friends holding hand-made "Welcome Home" signs and bearing gifts of Fall clothes that will fit my kids for the time we are here.  I rest in the hug of a dear friend and delight in the giggles of my kids as they reconnect with best buddies without missing a beat.  As Mark drives us all home, the limbo returns, though.  The trip from the airport reveals how things have changed since we've been gone.

I have to laugh at him as he asks, "Was that Costco there when we left?"

"Yes, dear, since like 2005."

"Oh."  And we both argue about which is the fastest way home since new roads have been added.  We are reduced to two senile, old folks who can't remember exactly which exit to take or if the ramp is on the left or right!  Begrudgingly, we turn on our GPS, thankful for a little guidance.

The garage door opens and Michael shouts, "HOME, JAMES!" from the back seat.  "Mom, I think we should say 'Home, James!' when coming to this house, and 'We're home!' when we get back to the boat."  I can see him struggling with his own inner limbo, too.  It's going to be a strange visit for all of us.

It's official!
I can't ignore the FOR SALE sign in the yard, and the limbo settles deeper.  The mommy in me wants to cling to the home where the kids first came home from the hospital, where we held many birthday parties and where we found comfort for so many years.  But again, that voice in my head says, "It's just stuff... stuff doesn't really matter."

And I step through the door with changed perspective.  Suddenly I want to just clear it all out.  If I haven't needed it for 2 years, I don't really need it.  And there's the inner battle that I'll be fighting while I'm here.  What is worth saving and what I need to let go of.

Wanting to hold onto familiar, but knowing that the familiar just isn't familiar anymore.

On the boat, things are minimal and somehow... enough.  Our boat galley with 5 cabinets of dishes, pots, and containers is plenty for us, but it seems a bit crazy as I look at our old kitchen with 20 cabinets filled with more stuff!  The kids each have one cabinet of toys on board and one other cabinet holds shared games and crafts, and it is enough.  Here, toys overflow from a whole room devoted to play that is never used!  On board, I have one small hanging closet and a set of 4 shelves that house all my clothes, and it is enough... more than enough, really.  But here, I have a walk-in closet filled with clothes plus a full dresser and shoes I haven't worn for 2 years .  Ugh.  It kinda makes me sick, really.  The urge to purge returns again and I holler down to Mark, "We really need to go get some packing boxes NOW!  I just want to get rid of this stuff!"

But meanwhile, the kids are rushing around the house finding treasures they'd forgotten they had until they saw them again.  They begin to hold as many in their hands as they can, not sure which to play with first.  Michael rushes back and forth to show me what he's discovered, plays with a toy for a brief moment, then rushes off again to find another.  Elizabeth is quiet, upstairs in her old room, carefully digging in her jewelry box and putting on magnet earrings, delighting in the rediscovery of her small gems and memories.  She finds one of her first stuffed animals.  A puppy that she carried with her, pushed in her toy stroller, made a bed for, and named herself when she was a toddler.  "Mom, what was his name again??"  I could feel her desperation to know, to remember this dear old friend.  We both thought hard and made attempts to recall the name.  I told her about when she was two and she made up a name for it that I'd never heard before.  And when I'd asked her if she was sure of the name, even suggesting a few simpler names like Puppy or Cuddles, she'd been determined to stick with the name she'd created.

"I think it started with a K."  I can feel the name forming in my mind.  And then it's there.  "Kutlah," I say.

Immediately, she grins and looks at the toy, relieved to be able to call it by its name, "That's it.  Kutlah."   And she's gone again, for more treasure hunting.

Too big for their Big Wheels, but loving it anyway (note E's snow boots she found and had to wear!)
I secretly kick myself for letting them indulge in all of these things which I had planned to clear out.  It is going to be a struggle for them to let go of all the newly found treasures.  At the same time, I can't help smiling at their excitement with each new find.  I know how they feel.  They're clinging to their childhood toys like I am clinging to the memories of this house.

Limbo is hard.  It's scary.  It's uncomfortable.  In some ways, though, Limbo has become the new norm.  Life on a boat is constantly changing.  The scenery changes, the neighbors change, the available foods change, the languages change.  It is like moving to a new town every time we re-anchor.  The first few days are spent finding the grocery store, the chandlery, the laundromat, the restaurants - all walking and without a GPS to guide us.  And it seems that once we get it all figured out and start to get comfortable, the winds beckon us to move on.  The thought of a lifestyle of constant change would have sent me into a spiral of worry two years ago, but now I appreciate the freedom of not being in control, not being able to plan too far ahead, and not being sure what's coming next.  

So, as we spend the next few weeks packing up our past, I am trying to pull back my focus from the zoom of the now to the panorama view of the bigger picture.  Sure, it's emotional and unsettling at the moment, but it has forced me to rest in the peace of God's plan and provision for our family.  Limbo is an exciting place of hope and wonder in what will come from all of this and where it will lead us.

Colossians 3:1-2    


  1. Hi Sarah,

    Another very insightful post. Thank you. It strikes me that kids and dogs seem to have it right. They have a God given talent to live in the now. What's new, what's next, what's fun, that's all that matters. Lots of toys or not so much, it's all about what they can do to have fun "now".

    Sometimes I think as adults we become fearful of new things, of change, largely because we don't know what it will mean for tomorrow. We also continuously examine and sift through our existences trying to plot the best path to the future. I can really identify with your struggle, to define what is really important in life and try to live that way. We Antares tribe members will always have the gift of seeing life through two prisms up close, the one that says that the kid who dies with the most toys wins, and the one that sees less materialistic cultures and realizes it's the relationships we develop and appreciate that really make us happy. Maybe that in itself is a gift.

    It seems I am happiest when I shake all that "bling" out of my head and just worry about what we're going to make for breakfast. For us, we are still at the " like nailing jello to the wall" stage. I loved that post. We sold our house three weeks ago, and are still feeling the emotional aftershocks of that move. Ah there I go again not living in the now!

    Take care!

  2. Sarah,
    Excellent post. I cannot tell you how many times Paula and I look around at all the "stuff" and just shake our heads. Your post hit home on many levels. Well said.

  3. Well said, Sarah. We just experienced the same thing on a brief trip to Miami. It took all of half a day to confirm that the life we live now is a life that's closer to REAL.

  4. Update - Well, the minivan is listed, the garage is filling with boxes of KEEP, but the trash cans are really getting their fill!! The trick has been having the house "show ready" in the midst of packing and purging! Yikes! And a friend has kindly opened her home to be our place to come back to when we need it. God is so good.

  5. What a beautiful post, Sarah! I'm glad to read that you are making progress and we all look forward to seeing you upon your return. Take care.

  6. Hi Sarah,

    What an amazing post. It is so exciting to hear your continuing adventure when I pop in from time to time. It's also great to hear from Mark as well.

    We will be going down to the boat sometime after Christmas. We can't wait! We are even talking about doing another adventure although likely shorter (maybe 3 months).

    Anyway, all the best and keep in touch.

    Paul Frazer
    s/v Legend
    BVI and Canada


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