At last, I am free from my office! It took weeks of selling things and moving things in dribs and drabs, having to paint when I definitely had an understanding I would not need to, and delays due to a week of rain at the most inopportune times, but I am moved out. I made a sad pilgrimage to the county landfill to push the then rain-ruined antique desk down the hill (if only I had had time to take it to the LMS before the rains came after the awful Goodwill incident). Bags upon bags of clothes, shoes, housewares, books, and board games went to the local Annapolis Lutheran Mission Society on West Street. Everyone there was incredibly friendly and helpful. My art collection went to the Anne Arundel County SPCA for use in silent auctions and/or to brighten their walls.
The past few weeks trying to get out of the office have been a stressful whirlwind. I'm glad that many of the finer furniture pieces went on to good new homes. I've even been invited to visit my beloved dining table, credenza, and the hope chest my grandfather built for my grandmother, to see them in their new home. Good friends make moving a slightly less painful experience and they really are priceless. My friend Denise kept me company and helped with my moving sale, making the stressful process go much more smoothly. My friend Phil is busy preparing for his own southbound adventure, but helped me load furniture into the truck nonetheless. And I can't thank my friends Mike and Dave enough...not only helping out with moving stuff, but painting the office for me while I sorted and bagged and loaded. Indeed, when I had to leave in a frantic rush to get to work, they stayed behind to finish painting!
I'd like to think I am 100% "ashore no more," but in truth my car is filled to the tippy-top with stuff, the cab of a friend's pick-up is filled to the brim, and I have commandeered about a 3' by 6' plot in a friend's dining room for boxes, bags, and an oriental carpet. Other than a lamp being shipped to my mother and boxes of photographs and CDs that a friend will store, everything else must eventually make it aboard. There are boxes of legal files that need to be sorted, scanned, and tossed. Galley items, candle holders, linens, and too many clothes. The first step will be cleaning and organizing what is already aboard, maximizing the storage space, and tucking everything away somewhere. There is an amazing amount of storage space aboard, but much of it is difficult to access (e.g., large, deep storage lockers beneath the v-berth) or blocks access to necessary areas (e.g., the engine, batteries, and water pump). Little by little I will get there. There is still a lot of work and sorting ahead, but I am incredibly relieved not to have to drive across town to the office anymore and to no longer have that monthly expense hanging over my head.
I still hope I can mediate, as it is very rewarding to help people in conflict move forward in a positive way rather than drain themselves and their bank accounts in litigation. But without a steady stream of clients it was simply impractical and financially burdensome to maintain an office and hope for clients to come. I can always rent conference room space if and when I need it. I still dream of finding a niche cruising the Caribbean and mediating the divorces of couples who retired and sailed away, only to discover that their marriage didn't survive the passage.
Friday I walked around at the boat show, drank Painkillers in the rain, and bought some sail ties. I was mostly nonplussed by the show, but it was fun to walk around with a friend and have some cocktails. I definitely have the itch to sail off and have some adventures, and when I saw one friend at the show I told her I'm not sure when or where I'm going, but I doubt I'll be tied to the docks here in six months. Friday night I got to meet folks from near and far at a Caribbean cruisers reunion. A couple who split their time between a home in the Annapolis area and living on the hook in St. Lucia graciously invited me to their annual boat show party and, as is the norm, the cruisers happily shared their tales, welcomed me, and encouraged me to sail away on an adventure. It's a big world out there to explore, but the cruising and liveaboard communities are small, so it is wonderful to meet folks here who I will likely run into in some far-off anchorage in the future. And I even met someone who is only about ten slips away from me, so it really is a small world.
Still much to prepare, many repairs to make, affairs to get in order so I can head off on my adventures. I am growing wary of heading south in the cold, blustery weather and may wait for warmer, sunnier days to head out. Now that the smell of fall is in the air, I'm not sure I want to miss fall and winter here. I enjoy a little snow, wearing hats and gloves and boots, going ice skating. Is winter aboard hard? Yes. But so are hot, muggy summers in Florida. (The weather is the single biggest thing I hated about Miami during all my years there.) I am still in this state of flux, preparing, edging closer, and itching to go. But still, the plan is that there is no plan. The key goal right now is to truly be ashore no more so I am free to go.