Saturday, December 10, 2011

The Marriage of Visions

It’s been a tough few days. We struggled with this decision to fly to Florida and look at boats. And we have had to narrow down our list of which few boats to see.

In the process, the Hans Christian pilothouse has been sunk.

That is hard for me. I felt like I had set such high hopes on the HC ketch when we first traveled to Marmaris. Remember the “Mythical?”

That boat wasn’t it and it was disappointing.

Then, after a lot of looking around, and visiting boats, and talking to brokers, we expanded our online searches to America and found this pilothouse. And it seemed to beautiful to me. Even though it has been neglected and it would take time and money to restore.

But I could never fully energize Jennifer with my vision of the boat. I tried to convince her that she would enjoy the huge galley; that she would be so excited to have friends stay for a while; that we could host dinners.

All of that was overshadowed by how big the pilothouse was. It is ten feet longer than Dolphins was. That’s a lot when it comes to boat. It amounts to three-times the size that Dolphins was. You can begin to understand that when you compare displacement.

Dolphins weighed or displaced 20,000 lbs. The pilothouse displaces 60,000 lbs. That is a massive, massive boat.

“That’s just not who we are,” Jennifer said. “It’s too big.”

The huge stateroom with a queen-sized bed and full length couch would go mostly unused, she argued. Along with the dedicated bathroom just for that stateroom.

And there are the economics: Every time you dock, you pay for length. Every time you paint the boat, you are painting more. You are paying more insurance. More in repairs and maintenance.

What did I have to counter these arguments? Well, for one, I reminded her that she never liked Dolphins to begin with. She didn’t like sailing. She didn’t want to go on a cruise. She thought Dolphins was too ostentatious.

“You paid $75,000 for a boat?!?” she said. “That’s just crazy! Who does that?”

Those were her early words to me.

When I reminded her of this, she inhaled to counter, then froze, and finally said, “Oh yeah, I did feel that way, didn’t I?”

What else did I have to counter her reasonable objections to this pilothouse?

Not much.

Besides telling her that I think she will eventually come to love it as much as she loved Dolphins, my only reason for wanting to pursue the pilothouse is purely emotional.

I love it. I love the feeling that she is a grand ship. I will love the greatness of her. I can also imagine our lives on her.

During our cruising time together on our trips to Maine, up and down the Hudson, and throughout the eastern part of the Mediterranean, Jennifer and I learned that it is not so much about the sailing. We prefer to sail instead of motoring, but what we like most about the cruising life is ... the life. Waking up and having coffee. Going from place to place with our home. Enjoying dinners. Doing crosswords and watching movies in bed. What we enjoy mostly about being aboard is the interior life of being aboard.

And this pilothouse would provide a wonderful, comfortable interior life.

Yet that is my vision. Not Jennifer’s. Her vision of this boat is that it is more to take care of. More that would be empty and vacant. It would give people a wrong impression of us. (I hope I am portraying her feelings accurately; and if not, hopefully she will chime in.)

I called in advice from my “counsel.” My brother and my boat guru both and another friend said that it was too much boat in several respects: financially, time investment, and its six and a half foot draft limiting its sailing territory. Neither of them advised against getting it, but just that it didn’t seem like the best match.

My friend Joel spoke to my emotions and reminded me to listen and be true to what I want. Remember the compass? Well, he is my human compass of want.

Jennifer felt a bit vindicated by those saying the boat was too big, too much.

For days, we pulled on opposing lines of that boat. I, pulling on the bow line, trying to secure it to the dock. Jennifer, tugging at the sternline, trying to pull it back out to sea.

I had to concede today. Jennifer and I share this adventure together. It can only work if we both are going to enjoy the same boat. I felt horrible and defeated that I had to give up on this boat, but I knew it was the only way to move on. There will be another boat. The pilothouse is not the only boat I can enjoy. But it is one that she is not sure she can.

Jennifer feels horrible and sad that she cannot share my enthusiasm for the boat. She was near tears today.

“I don’t want to be the one to tell you not to get what you want,” she said.

“I get it,” I said. “And I don’t want to be the one to force my want on you.”

This is what marriage is about. This is where all that makes the difference in relationships comes to the test. One person has to let go.

I get credit for conceding this time. But in fact, I have been so extremely lucky in my relationship with Jennifer. She gets credits for conceding much more in our relationship.

She is the one who left her career of documentary film making in Boston to move to Burlington, Vermont. She is the one who left her friends and family behind to live in my world. She is the one who said she could never imagine going cruising aboard a sailboat and yet, now is.

Jennifer is a wonderfully cooperative person when it comes to the nuts and bolts of everyday life in a relationship.

I can let go of this ship, because I know I have what is far more important: a great woman; a fulfilling relationship.

Easy? No.

Worthwhile? Yes.


Anonymous said...

like woody allen said: a marriage is there to help you solve problems together, that you wouldn't have if you were single

Daniel said...

I admire you, because I can actually feel your pain the way you write it. there's not a millimeter between your feelings and your writing, like a stamp on an envelope as we say in acting.
you're becoming a real zen meister.

daniel said...

I meant: I admire your decision

이일병 said...

I admire your decission, too.
You know what is more important in your life.
And you have that important relationship that would make you happy.


steve said...

I'm a landlubber, and Jen used to be one, so you could have tried the argument "Boats are like jeans, you have to buy them a size or two bigger because they shrink once they get wet."

alykat said...

Mathias - this entry is a lesson in marriage - i am sending it to all of my friends...lovely. Hard, but lovely. I agree with Daniel - i can feel your emotions as I read this - again, lovely.

abbot said...

jeez a loo

50 days w/o an update, wtf ?