There is something of a roller coaster ride in our friendships. The bottom line is all good: we are fortunate to have wonderful people in our lives. There are highs when we meet new cruising friends, lows when we miss people from home, highs when friends from home visit or we reconnect with a boat we've met previously, lows when we have to part ways with cruising friends when our paths diverge. Up, down, up, down, rinse, repeat!
On the other hand, it is amazing to think how the circle of neat people we know has grown this year. From supportive family at the Village Marina in Alameda, where we happily lingered beyond our expectations, to the people who have continued to touch us as we've made our way on this journey.
By necessity, friendships out cruising are typically made quickly. If we're sharing an anchorage with another boat, we usually meet them- by swimming over or taking the dinghy across to introduce ourselves, if they don't do it first. There's something a little like speed dating that occurs: you fly quickly through the get-to-know-yous, and establish common ground. We share information about the weather forecast, the protection of nearby anchorages, what day of the week vegetable truck arrives, and the quality of the fishing. When you really hit it off, or have some particular interests in common (we are *always* looking for other children!), one meeting often spins into spending a few fun days or weeks together, sharing anchorages and exploring reefs or enjoying what the nearest shoreline has to offer. Eventually, we part ways as our paces, directions or priorities diverge. Friends we made in Mexico this winter now range from California to Central America to French Polynesia.
This past week, we had to say goodbye again. Eyoni isn't headed north as fast as we are, and we're headed to the mainland more slowly than Wildflower. Both these boats have kept us company as we headed north into the Sea, and it's hard not to feel disheartened to such great families and fun people. We've shared great meals, many laughs, and thoroughly enjoyed their company. We may see them again soon, but it could be months or longer, and we just don't know.
When I'm feeling low in the wake of a departure, I think about Annie, one of the first friends I made after we started cruising. We were greeted by her 5 year old, Bear, calling down from the pier as we entered the public wharf in Monterey. Since that first whirlwind day together (hours at the aquarium, lunch, playdate for the big and little people) our families have continued to find each other again and again as thousands of miles have passed under our keels. We've created great memories, from Monterey, California to Barra de Navidad, Mexico. In the wisdom from her years cruising, she gently helped prep me for the roller coaster, although I may not have appreciated it at the time. It still stinks to say goodbye, but having been able to also say "hello!" again to this family a handful of times already- it always feels possible, even likely, we'll be able to see our friends again.
So, we've been here before. We waved several friends off the dock as they departed for the south pacific this winter, and at some level, we're getting kind of used to it. At times I worry that at some point the children will be a negatively affected- that they will miss the depth in relationships that only comes from time, or will learn to say goodbye too easily. But that's just the worried voice most parents have in their ear for the welfare of their children. What has been difficult on some levels has also done great things for their social skills, their ability to talk to kids of all ages.
I'm looking forward to tracking down those boats we watched sail off to the west this winter, too.