Leaving to row an ocean...
How do you wrap your life up for 3 months? Put everything on hold, assign your responsibilities to other people, tie up all the loose ends, say all the goodbyes. Leave knowing (or hoping) that everything will be just the way it was when you come back?
How do you navigate the latest travel regulations, make sure you have all the right documentation to eliminate the unimaginable risk that you might - after all your hard work and emotional untangling, be refused to fly.
The last week, let alone the last 2 years has been frantic. With a never-ending to-do list and an uncontrollable urge to let it all go and just spend time with the people I love before I get on that ocean, I’ve delivered my dogs to a friend in Gloucestershire and had to adjust to a home without licks and cuddles, I’ve had last minute swimming coaching and hand-overs with friends, my business partner and my accountant. I’ve had pre-race prep Zoom meetings with Jane, Orlagh and a variety of our support team as we finalise fundraising, anew website, and final race rule compliance. I’ve completed a 6 hour assessment for our mandatory navigation theory course. I’ve trained twice a day and tried to remember to eat. I’ve had ANOTHER COVID test and am now the proud owner of a PCR certificate.
I’ve stolen precious moments to hide under the duvet with Mel and shut the world out. I’ve been overwhelmed by incredible friends who have brought round letters‘ to be opened on the ocean’ or sent countless messages of love and support and some who raised a glass with me in the hail and high winds of an unseasonableevening in May as we were restricted to gathering outside by continued Covid regulations.
I’ve hurtled from one end of the week to the other, trying to see everyone and do all the things.
And now it’s Saturday morning. And time to fly. And I woke with tears in my eyes at the thought of actually leaving. That tiny thread that still connects me to everything I know is about to fray and snap. It’s everything I have been working towards for two years and it’s terrifying. The messages keep coming,‘god speed!’, ‘you’re so brave’, ‘go smash that ocean’, ’this is your time!’
Mel tells me how proud he is, what an incredible thing we are about to do. He hands me a letter and tells me ’this is for when you are in a hole. I don’t want you to have to open it. Not unless you are in Hawaii and we read it together.’ He has tears in his eyes.
Together, they all gently and lovingly push me towards the unknown, the fear, the wide open ocean, the place where discomfort and growth lies.
Ready, or not…it’s time. Jane bounces in to the departure lounge to meet me with her selfie stick. And at the final hurdle of Security Check-In, confronted by two Airport policemen with stern faces and guns slung around their belts, there’s a tiny part of me that wants them to turn us away alongside the many others who are attempting to get through. But our declarations are accepted, the policemen congratulate us on the endeavour and even give us a bit of advice on rowing technique.
And just like that, we’ve left.