I wonder how I’ll ever leave Southern California now that I’m here. Now that I’ve found sailboats and beaches and organic, local, vegan restaurants and so many Whole Foods; now that I’ve started introducing myself to sailors and have met wonderful friends-of-friends. Now that I feel that I fit into the scenery without being overwhelmed or lost in it; now that I can either disappear or shine in equal happiness, amidst other beautiful and interesting people.

How do I leave the sun and surf and sand, now that I’ve fallen in love?

Now that I’m thoroughly seduced by SoCal?

It is so easy to see how people get sucked into this lifestyle, why they make exoduses of their lives to come to this magical place, why the beautiful never leave and the dreamers thrive amidst each other:

There are so many dreamers here, so many lovers; so much to dream, so much to love.

I am seduced – and do not want to return, for I never want to leave.


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So many mornings, I wake naked with a sheet or light quilt draped over three-quarters of my body, the wind coolly sneaking into my room and kissing my arms, shoulders and back; and I find myself half-dreaming of resting in a lover’s bed.

This morning, with the sun not as hot as yesterday, not as proddingly demanding that I leave my comfort, my dreams turned to the ocean, to a bed near the beach where similar soft breezes and gentle sunlight awakened me as tenderly as a careful love. I could remember the white sands beyond, hear the faintly crashing waves orchestrate with quietly-rustling leaves; and my body is quiveringly seduced as thoroughly as by the scent and structure and attentions of a well-attuned man.

Could it be that nature itself is calling me, beckoning me to the edges of land and foamy water? If so, I’ve felt it for years….

It’s said that youthful impressions are the strongest made; and I’m sure of it.

My first and greatest love, le mer, is calling me home.

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I woke this morning to vivid, almost-awake dreams of deep, dark blue waters, of a high, hot sun, of salt air thick and lush on my nostrils, of a strong, deeply-tanned man – the owner of the long, white sailboat – preparing to dive with me.

The sense of freedom and vastness, of purpose was so clear – more clear and explicit than with any other dream or idea I have: the purpose was unspeakable, and the only way to describe it is: Life.

I find myself in the midst of the world, preparing my journey with food, beverage, music and travel across land – and yet, I find myself restless, dis-eased, anxious. Surely it is my sense of food in relation to restaurants, my sense of media in relation to television, my sense of marketing in relation to advertising; and it is hard to break through these notions.

Sailing, however, is both new and old, instinctive and primal and inventive, nakedly natural and so very human. It is demanding on physical, mental, emotional and consciousness levels; it requires an openness to the sea and to peoples and to lands – a forever learning, amidst warmth and love of the sun and wind and skies.

I do not know how I will get there; but I feel I must make start making my way to the sea, no matter what I must do or give up to do so. My skin longs for the heat of the sun, the cooling breezes, the nourishing salt water; my mind begs and prods me for the simplicity and nuances of laying hands on line.

I want to disappear into her, back to my origins, back to the sea… to be myself and protect what I love most: to be Meredith.

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Add Another Dreamer to the List

DreamlandI wonder if we’re all great dreamers, we who are drawn to the sea and sail.

My dream starts with my name, Meredith, Welsh for “guardian of the sea” or “great chief. I’m called “Mer” by those who love me, “Meri” by those close to me. I was almost “Emily Jane,” but my father saved me and my mother chose well in her second try. I was born in Orlando, under a strong water sign.

My father’s father loved the sea, was in the US Coast Guard during WWII, always had boats of one sort or another and lived in Florida. Regrettably, he was a drunk, so I never sailed with him, never knew anything of boats except for his never-completed houseboat that sat on stilts on Florida’s Atlantic coast until after he died in his eighties.

But I grew up close enough to the sea to love it, visiting my grandparents regularly enough through my childhood to make it to the ocean or the Gulf at least once a year through my nineteenth year.

I’ve always lived close enough to some major body of water: Lake Lanier, in Georgia; the Ohio River, when in Cincinnati; Lake Ontario, while in Canada. I always loved watching sailboats from the shore, always loved walking around marinas, always thought of sailing “one day” – with never a hope of realizing that dream.

Until, one day, I met a man while serving at a local restaurant who was moving onto a sailboat in Hamilton Harbor. Instantly excited, I asked him all about it – and we became fast friends.

A year later, I visited his boat for the first time. It was love at first step – with the boat, not the man. We shared a couple of beers on deck and all I could think was how much I wanted to see below, wondered how it must feel to sleep on this gently-rocking creature.

Two weeks later, I learned. I brought dinner, a bottle of wine and a movie this time; we started with beers, drank the bottle of wine more quickly than we realized, sampled his impressive Scotch collection as we settled below for the film. My eyes roamed the warmly-golden interior of this sweet boat; I imagined taking her out, freeing her in the wind, of spending days and nights on this beauty. What a lucky man my friend was.

Not sober enough to drive – or walk – home on this chilly night, he settled me on a narrow berth with a sleeping bag and hopped onto his berth. I slept better than I had slept in years, better than I have in years since, waking early to the occasional ringing of steel on the mast in the gently-blowing wind. I was excited; this was bliss.

Swan in the HarborEverything changed, from that moment forward. My perception of the town changed, my life opened up suddenly, and I finally knew why I had never been at home in any apartment, in any house on land: My home was not on land; it was on the sea.

It was not long before I started looking for a sailboat of my own, through which I found a skipper seeking crew for weekly races in the bay. My enthusiasm trumped my lack of experience; I was immediately accepted, along with two more experienced sailors, and – in the two seasons we raced – went from last place to second and then first in our class, winning the title of “Most Improved” for the year.

Chasing the WindI never missed a race. I loved being “The Main Babe,” loved hauling in taut lines as I grew quickly stronger each week. I loved the camaraderie of our crew, the instantaneous friendship that came of working towards a common goal, of simultaneous enjoyment of full sails and rushing water beneath our bow. Every moment was complete; this was everything.

The dream led me to shed almost everything I owned, led me back home to rebuild my long-neglected relationship with my family, led me to meet and crew on a trimaran at speeds I never knew one could make under the force of the wind. Led me to a new skipper whose great knowledge of sailing and of boats will aid to the final realization of my dream.

Amidst all this, I write. I love the experience of sharing food and drink with good companions, love the brilliance of chefs smitten with the creation of delicious, beautifully-presented substance.

Mine is The Dream: Sail and write and travel, enjoying new places and foods and people, sharing all I can with those I meet, with those who read my words and view my photos.

So, why am I here? Why am I not yet on the sea, sailing from coast-to-coast?

I’m still looking, still sailing through my life, still learning.

The journey is so important, and those with whom one travels are equally important. I’ll find the ones with whom I’ll travel next, or they’ll find me – the ones who give for the sake of giving, who love for the sake of loving, who expect little and learn much. From them, I’ll learn; with them, I’ll sail – on the sea, and through life.

To be plain: I’m looking to learn what else I need to know of sailing, of traveling.

Looking forward to meeting more dreamers, here and on the seas.

Originally posted on Cruiser’s Forum,

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