Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Coulda Been A Drifter

As you know, last year I started sailing.  This has become a time-intensive obsession, covering at least 3 nights per week, from April to October.  That’s not counting the courses, studying, reading, that happens outside of that 7-month sailing season.  Really, it’s all I ever want to do.  Every day, every weekend: sail, sail, sail.

The other day, I was wondering how my life would be different if I’d discovered this sport 20 years ago.
20 years ago I was living in Hometown and anxious to get out.  I was living with an awful woman who I was trying to break up with (every time I tried, she threatened to kill herself.  I had to finally tell her “do what you’re going to do.”).  I had a crappy full-time job making minimum wage on the midnight shift at a gas station.  I had no money, 3 or 4 close loyal friends, and a family that loved me but we couldn’t live together.

20 years later I’m nearly 40.  I live in a great city and love it here 6 months of the year.  Non-sailing season sucks, it’s too cold.  I’m living with an amazing wife who I am trying to retain for the rest of our lives.  I have a crappy full-time job making good wage during the sunlight.  I have almost no money, 6 or 7 close loyal friends, and a family that loves me but we can’t live together.

I have built my life for me.  I love Wife and couldn’t bear to work away from her for extended periods, the type of thing you’d need to do with a maritime career. 

But if I’d discovered sailing in 1992, things could have been very different.  I lived in a town that actually has a decent yachting community where I could have learned the basics.  I could have gotten a formal education after that, obtaining all the Yacht-master and Captain’s licensing (etc etc etc) probably by the time I was 30.  I could have then taken a low-paying job delivering and sailing yachts around the world.  Avoiding cold winters, living on the sea.  Literally a Drifter I suppose, but an employed one.  I could have made a life around this surprise fascination.

I do feel like there’s too much of a cost to do it now.  I’d have to spend far too much time away from Wife, I’d have to really dig into professional-grade sailing courses for any chance at a low-paying-but-pleasant job, I’d have to give up the “treats” in my life – the holidays, the expensive clothes, the guitars…  And I’d probably be pushing 50 years old before I could actually be qualified for a proper position.

I don’t regret my life - in any other path I’d have not met Wife.  And any life with her is better than any life without her.  But one never knows what one misses out on – I’d probably not have known what life would be like with her, so I’d probably not feel anything lacking.

I wonder…


  1. It's fun to sit back and ponder the "what ifs" of life.
    My dad used to always say "What if my aunt had balls? She'd be my uncle!"
    So let's say you were sailing all the time. Frick you might have gotten killed in that pirate craze that was happening a few years ago. Hell, you may have even become a pirate! And don't even get me started on the scurvy...

  2. Actually Rox, that pirate craze is still going on (and getting worse).

    As far as scurvy, i'm fine. I like lots of lime in my Gin&Tonic.

    What if, what if, what if. It's just a shame that I discovered this passtime so late in my life.