Disclaimer: I am not a boater
Tom reliably informs me that you’re ‘not a boater’ until your third year on the boat. Pretty convenient for him to say that as that’s exactly how long he’s been on the boat for…
So, at not even three weeks, I’m happy enough saying ‘I’m not yet a boater’; my story (or stories, I suppose), will be about taking the big important aspects and the teeny tiny ones of living on a boat, and give a snapshot into my life of why these instances have come together to float me to where I am today.
Everyone who lives on a boat has had something – or indeed, a few moments – that have led them to search for a different, often cheaper, way of living. I’m not saying I’m any better/different/more special/worse off than anyone. But what boating does is bring together such a broad range of people; people who have the hardest lives we could possibly imagine, and this is a last resort to not be homeless, to folk who have had enough of the over-consumerism lifestyle of living in brick built homes, and then those who are just on their boats ‘for the season’ as the boat is a moveable holiday home for them. This safari of stories is one I’ve not only bought a ticket to, but am also now on my way to getting the t-shirt.
Rewind just eight weeks and you’ll find me and Tom in the local pub close to my home in Coventry, which we’ve gone to ‘for one drink’ on a Friday night. The beer’s cheap and, of course, we end up staying for four (we’re not big drinkers so our equivalent of ‘a night on the town’!) We go from playing ‘what’s the story with that couple?’ game to suddenly segwaying into how we feel about life. As you do. Tom’s boat, at this stage, was being moved around the Ashby Canal with the view of selling it in the spring which would then take the space a rather large chunk of my mortgage.
Rewind two years to when I’ve just realised that being constantly emotionally drained, tired with regular headaches, has a name – migraine. Since then I’ve had a downward spiral that peaks and troughs around a plateau (to be mentioned in pretty much every blog here on in) and has included moving to part time hours at work. Eight weeks ago I was in a trough. Each hour of every day was something to get through; going to bed was a relief to either forget the pain for a while or forget the all-consuming anxiety of being in pain
Sat in the pub, feeling the warm fuzz a few wines inevitably induces, I had an epiphany! The kind of there’s-no-going-back-from-this revelation that inevitably invokes action: I was unhappy, and there was another way – to trial, at the very least.
Tom kept asking me, ‘Are you serious about this?’ I really wasn’t sure! But I couldn’t stop smiling or ignore the feeling of butterflies fluttering in my stomach with nervous anticipation & excitement. As well as of course being blind-faced scared about the whole idea. So it was happening! I had one person I knew I had to talk to about this venture before fully signing up. The one heart-wrench that gave me several sleepless nights before we left the city; my Dad. This is not something I currently find easy to write about, but I will leave you with this:
Times we’ve walked along stormy coastlines
With storms of our own, raging inside
For others not each other;
That’s why we came together
Times we’ve picked up the phone, to talk things out
Knowing there’s no need, to stamp and shout
He’s been there before
And tomorrow, I’m sure
I’ll pick up the phone, to talk things through
He’s part of the shit, so part of the crew
We’ll still come together
This waterway, or another.
Thank you for reading my first post! Are you a boater or a complete novice like me? Or perhaps you’d never dream of exchanging life on dry land for the water? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below, and be sure to look out for another instalment in a week or few.