Denial and Other Adventures in Avoiding Reality

27 Jan

Everyone has their own way of dealing with life’s unfortunate events.  Some people eat.  Some people cry.  Some people exercise until they fall down from exhaustion.  As for me, I grew up in a strong WASP-y tradition.  That means when the weather is hot, I’m accustomed to spying men in kneesocks and long shorts.  When it’s Sunday dinner at Grandma’s, we eat roast beef and Yorkshire pudding.  And when reality serves me something I don’t want to deal with, I hide.

Mentally, of course.  You can’t physically hide from reality – that would look ridiculous.  Did Lord Grantham lock himself in a cupboard when Downton was circling the drain?  No.  Like all good avoiders, he just locked himself into a mental pattern of “la la la, this isn’t happening, I don’t have to change my ways, oh good there’s the gong, let’s all dress for dinner.”  And while some of us aboard Papillon take a, shall we say, more Teutonic approach to unwanted events, some of us are just chasing distractions while we wait for the metaphorical dinner gong.

Our cloud on the horizon is work.  This is a cloud-that-isn’t-really-a-cloud.  Work means money means we can keep sailing… just not for a while.  The bad side of work is that it will remove Erik from the equation for a time.  Oh, the work will be exciting, and he has a great team, and he’ll be home as often as he can, but nonetheless.  The whole point of this trip was to spend time as a foursome.  I’m selfishly sad to give that up, even for a little while.

So, how have we hidden from our woes?

Erik’s Solution: Fix Everything
“Don’t forget to run the engine every couple of weeks.”
“Could you return those extra parts I bought to the chandlery?”
“Make sure you get those centerboard trunk drawings to the welder so he can get started.”
I burrowed down further into the cockpit cushions and pushed my nose into my book.  Can’t Erik see that I am hiding, here?  His constant reminders about what needed to be done while he is away only reminded me that he is really going to be away.  As I tuned him out, I wondered why I didn’t buy a bag of grotesquely overpriced Cheetos the last time I was at the grocery store.  A stomachache would be an excellent distraction right now.

As the clock counted down, Erik hid by doing boat projects.  Many, many boat projects.  The Sailrite hummed away while he sewed dinghy splash guards and hatch covers with mosquito nets.  He fixed the old dinghy, ordered of the parts for our propeller shaft adventure and sorted out the water pump on the generator.  He was a whirlwind of activity.

No dengue for me, thank you.
The new dinghy is as dry as a bone thanks to Erik´s distinctive splash guards.

Stylish and Indy’s Solution: Entertainment

The girls went a different route in ignoring Erik’s imminent departure.  While you can normally find them sitting around with a book in hand, it became downright pathological.  Mealtimes, in the bathroom, waiting for dinner – they allowed themselves no rest.  They rode a merry-go-round of reading-Lego-movies, interspersed with playing with friends.  Any extra time they found was quickly filled with bickering before they returned to the tried-and-true methods described.

Many Lego houses guarded by a fierce dragon.

Amy’s Solution: Three Guesses
And as for me?  Well, I’m writing this, aren’t I?

But don’t be too sad for us.  Erik will be home whenever he can.  We have visitors arriving in the morning, school starts in a few weeks, there is French to learn, and the sun is still shining here in Noumea.  Before we know it, we will be pulling away from the dock and continuing on with the sailing part of our adventure.  And, in the meantime, I’ll distract myself when I need to.  Before I know it, the dinner gong will ring again.


  1. Randall Phillips


    Let me help you hide by changing the subject. After three decades of marriage, Debbie decided we needed a dog. We now have a thirty-five pound rescue hound named Jasmine. I have seen nothing in your posts about pets on any of the boats. Are there none?


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked*. Comments are moderated and generally will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive. For more information, please see our Comments Policy.

More from the AIM Marine Group