It’s now been a month since I’ve been back home and I’m finally getting settled. I still haven’t found a full time job but I have a contact gig I’m doing from an old coworker which is enough to keep me busy and fed. I’ve been taking it easy otherwise, trying to save money so I can pay off some debts (or keep from going further in debt). I spend more than I probably should have on my trip, but there’s a saying, “never take a trip you can afford.” Living broke can be as much an adventure as living lavishly.
There have been some changes since I left. The most significant being the economy. People thought I was crazy for quitting a job to go travel at a time when jobs were hard to come by. It probably was crazy, but even now, even with an uncertain prospects, I still don’t regret what I did or seek sympathy for my current disposition. I still think that tough times is a good time to travel; a good time to spend, that is, if you have the money to spend. Working these days gets you less and spending gets you more. I’ve noticed that people have cut back going out. Drink fewer drinks when they do go out and order the cheaper plates. People share more–I actually gave a couple I found on Craigslist rideshare a lift to and from San Francisco in my mom’s van when I was dropping off stuff. It was cheaper for them than taking the train, I got some gas money, company on the ride and some help carrying boxes upstairs.
I missed the Obama election and inauguration. Throughout my trip people were always asking me what it was like with Obama in office and I told them I didn’t know; when I left Dubya was still in office. I did, however, vote at city hall before I left. I remember I was on the way to Cabo when I heard, over VHF, for sure that Obama won “by a landslide.” And I watched a part of the inauguration at Tequila Beach in Mahahual. Mike, the Canadian dude on my last boat, told me about “beergate”. I didn’t stay informed about current events while I was gone. Obama and Michael Jackson was the only news I got.
In San Francisco the monthly bus passes have gone from $40 to $55. A ride from $1.50 to $2.00. The cops are cracking down on the revelry that goes on at Dolores Park. No more drinking there, supposedly, I haven’t been back there yet. At Bigfoot they no longer light the bar on fire. At Whiskey Thieves you’re no longer allowed to smoke inside.
I noticed that all my friends look and act a bit older. We’re entering Middle Age. Two couples I know got engaged. Another friend was promoted to a position where she now hires and fires people. My little brother is not so little anymore. I didn’t recognize his voice on the phone and he’s getting to be as tall as I am. He’s now a freshman at Jesuit High School. I’m sure when I see him again in a month or so, I won’t recognize him all over again.
And I’ve changed too. I’d say the best lesson I learned on my trip was patience. All I had on the boat was time. Even as slow as we were sailing, we were still always going somewhere, still making progress. As long as you’re not stagnant and working towards something, no matter how slow, I feel like you’ll get there one day. And your speed doesn’t matter, what matters is whether you eventually get there or not. In fact, “the journey is the destination” and “wanting is better than having” because as soon as you arrive at your goal, you will always ask yourself, “what’s next?”
I learned to be more self-sufficient. Not that I wasn’t before, I just got more practice doing it. Finding my way around strange towns. Speaking to people in foreign tongues. Cooking my own food from scratch. Mending my clothes. Making quick friends. Without the Internet, I discovered that my memory is really shit. There’s no use for memory when everything you’d want to know you can look up online. I forgot addresses, dates, phone numbers, people’s names. Was this done before cellphones and the Internet? I can’t remember.
All in all it was an amazing trip. I’d definitely like to do it again. Maybe next time I can get paid. I’m thinking it would be cool to pick up where I left off and sail from Australia to South Africa or the Med. Then another time from there to Panama, making it all the way around the world, albeit in pieces.