The place is abuzz with sipping, slurping, green straws, computer keypads, tall chai caramel latte decaf macchiato flat white black Americano….
It’s our last day in America.
It only seems appropriate to spend an inappropriate amount of it in a Starbucks.
Tomorrow we set sail for Bimini, sailor’s gateway to the Bahamas. Only 45 miles into a different world completely.
We change worlds from time to time. The day or two before that magic sail between worlds is strange. I see things in a yellowish hue. Reality vibrates and bends.
I can’t help but look around me at the people, living their lives, driving along, calling their friends, sipping their coffees. They become part of a static thing. They are America. They will be left here, carrying on with all this when we are gone. When for us there are no more traffic lights and Best Buys and Walmarts and Starbucks. When for us there are only desolate beaches and understocked shacks/stores and shallow waters and showers off the back step. When the sky and the sea take up our days with their omnipotence, back here they will be the backdrop to civilization. They will remain outside the honking cars, the bright lights of the shops and the clanking glasses on the restaurant patios.
I stand in the line and try to memorize my order – must remember the words – not small, tall. Not medium, Grande! Meanwhile there’s a double blended skinny caramel Frappucino up. Names are written on cups, green aprons flitter about behind the counter. I feel inadequate. A novice, an outsider. How do they keep this stuff in their heads? There are no skinny whip cream vanilla bean crèmes in the other world. You’re lucky if you find coffee. At all.
But you will find yourself. More raw, less busy, more mindful. No yoga classes, just your feet on grainy sand, plodding along, feeling the pull in your thighs of the muscles as you sink ever so slightly with each step. You will sink down, sweating under the sun drenched sky. You will sit for long periods at the edge of the water, feeling it’s undulating warm surface with the palms of your hand. It’s magical in the way that no shopping mall can recreate. It’s all in slow motion in that other world.
The thing is that the worlds remain, whether we come back again or not. Next year I may find myself on the reverse journey. Arriving into this world, anticipating the availability of everything with giddy anxiety in the core of my being.
Or we might sail on to a different world again entirely. New immigration offices, new smells, new walks, new adventures.
It’s a life of uncertainty. I’ve learned something curious about that. Life changing. Straightforward in it’s simplicity. You can only open yourself to new worlds when you expand your tolerance for the uncertainty of everything. What will the sail across be like? Will we have good weather? Will we meet storms? Will we find a place to anchor? Will they be friendly at the Immigration office?
A day or two after arrival in a new world, there are more uncertainties. Where will we sail next? What will that island be like? Will we find a protected anchorage? Will there be storms? Will the boat drag toward the rocks at 2am in a massive wind? Where will we do our laundry? Will our boat freezer die, leaving us with rotten, smelling sopping food and no chance to replace it all?
But none of these unknowns can put us off the adventure quest.
It’s the life of the maritime squatter. And it’s time to move on.
As the air-conditioning and ice coffee shooters closes behind me with the door, and we head out into the warmth of a Miami afternoon, I’ve moved on to the journey. Legally and mentally we’ve left this world and there are only a few things left to do. Fill the diesel and water tanks and anchor way out, on the edge of America, ready for tomorrow morning’s nautical flight to new lands.