My friend Will Paxton and I were talking sailing, sailing apparel, and relationships over lunch in Richmond, California. It was late afternoon on a foggy summer day in historic downtown, near the Richmond Yacht Club.
We sit at a corner table and order seared ahi. Will is one of those people you instantly like. He’s passionate about life and how he lives. He’s a third generation sailor and has won the Nationals seven times, maybe more. He wins so many races that the Race Committee that I serve on has asked if he ever gets tired of winning and he does it all effortlessly. Or, so it appears, but it might be so, because he always has a relaxed demeanor no matter what is going on around him. He has a way of slowing down the pace of things even in a conversation, and uses words like “indeed,” while slowly nodding, indicating with no ambiguity that he completely agrees with you. He exemplifies the modern adage that calm is the new superpower.
We were catching up while also discussing his order. I’m making mid layers for the Velvet Hammer crew for the Rolex Cup. He just finished the Transpac Yacht Race from Los Angeles to Hawaii where he came in second. After sailing 2,500 miles he lost to another yacht by 45 minutes. Although, he’s won this race enough times to be generous, he won’t let this happen again.
In The Five Love Languages: How to Express Heartfelt Commitment to Your Mate it outlines five ways to express and experience love called the “love languages” and service is one of the five. The importance of adventure is not. Although, I believe it should be.
The last few men I’ve dated have been very caring and have treated me very well in the service department. Both liked to cook and made my coffee. My Auntie Pat has been my sounding board since girlhood on the topic of men, and she thinks a man who cares for you in this way is worth his weight in gold.
My late husband was not big on service. I think he made me coffee twice, or more accurately he made us coffee often, but I had to pour it myself. As the girls grew older he would pour it and send it upstairs with one of our daughters, but I’m not sure that counts. He was, however, very big on gifts. On our first wedding anniversary he gave me a diamond necklace in the shape of a heart. The necklace, that now resides in a bank vault, had twelve diamonds one for each month of our first year of marriage. He also wrote poems. Romantic poems and humorous poems with rhyming stanzas like “the first eight were great” composed for our eight year anniversary, or “she’s so pretty and witty” referring to me on another occasion. In the five languages of love these are considered gifts and words of affirmation respectively.
Over lunch Will and I discuss my soon to be “empty nest” and my future sailing adventures. My plan has always been to sail away when my daughters both went to college. This idea has motivated me for the past three years and I don’t have a painted board in my entry way that reads, “Sail away with me the best is yet to be,” for no reason.
Since this idea first formed in my mind I’ve set my life up to make it possible. I’ve been working hard on my sailing apparel line and will eventually be able to work from anywhere with an Internet connection. I hope to have a San Francisco home base where my factory is located and then travel part of the year sourcing fabrics, generating sales, and talking to customers. I’ve been laying a strong foundation with an operations manager, a demand planning team, and a drop ship partnership that will allow me to do what I do best; product development, sales and marketing.
Of course I want to do the race to Hawaii. My Ocean SF gear was tested at sea on the last race to Hawaii out of San Francisco. It’s funny because my sailing gear has been on the race, but I have not. Will tells me I need to be with the right crew as the trip is long and arduous. We discuss my doing a delivery back first next July, but I can start with shorter off shore sails in the fall. The thought of this is exhilarating. I can’t wait to be sitting on the bow 1,000 miles from land. I can’t even imagine what that would feel like, but I’ve heard there is nothing like it in the world.
Balancing a relationship with work and our personal interests can be challenging, and it’s not like I’m going to play a round of golf. The Pacific Cup is a race that takes weeks, not to mention a great deal of time to prepare for. Yet, the traditional relationship of shared interests and hobbies is still my gold standard, and I’m struggling with how that can continue to fit into my life.
As a person who grew up on military bases and was well traveled before children, the stability I’ve given to my children took some getting used to.
I’ve lived in my current home for nineteen years. I do love it and can’t imagine living anywhere else. I truly love my creekside perch placed high above sea level, and right in the center of my neighborhood. I love my sunny rooms, the birds in the morning, my long time friends that are only blocks away, the squirrels that run along my fence, but most of all my twelve redwood trees that tower on both sides of me standing steadfast, strong and flexible. They keep me cool in summer and block the winds in winter, all of this and more makes my property unique.
Although we’ve stayed “put” so to speak, we’ve traveled often and from the start. My late husband didn’t like to travel, so I took my daughter who was only two months old to Toronto for a wedding by myself. Later, I took both kids to Europe alone before they were sixteen and on countless trips along the way. I taught them how to avoid jet lag, and to fall asleep anywhere and in any time zone. Recently, my daughter expressed how much she loves International travel, watching multiple movies and flying through time zones. I have to agree.
As the next chapter approaches how do I meld my traditional approach to love and life to meet a life of freedom and adventure?
Part of me loves the idea of sharing my life with someone and waking up to a steaming cup of French roast every morning.
As I eat my ahi in Richmond and share this, Will Paxton looks at me with a level gaze and says, “Sydney, you can make your own dam coffee.”
Love and blessings to all.