Belle Bateau is safe and secure at the Skull Creek Marina on Hilton Head Island (HHI), where we arrived yesterday (Day 37) after an easy passage down the Beaufort River and across Port Royal Sound. The ocean waved to us on the east as dolphins danced to our west as we crossed the sound, and turned into Skull Creek. Once tied up on the T-head, we took the marina’s courtesy bikes for a 10-mile exploration of Hilton Head plantation. Dudley led the way, excited to be on HHI again. His family used to vacation at Sea Pines for many years during his youth, and his memories are quite fond of this coastal community.
Day 38 dawned with a list of pink duties for Cheryl (laundry and baking) and blue duties for Dudley (more boat maintenance and repairs).
By mid-afternoon it was time to welcome friends Will and Susan to our boat. They could have been mistaken as mail carriers since they arrived with literally a dozen packages to be carted to Belle Bateau. Yes, mail delivery is a challenge when one lives on a boat, so when we know a firm destination, we take advantage of it! They were great sports about accepting our packages. Good thing, because more packages are coming before the weekend is out! Shhh!
Since Will and Susan had invited us to be their house guests over Thanksgiving weekend, we locked up Belle Bateau and officially began our shore leave. Susan took us to her favorite stretch of beach on HHI just as the sun was beginning to paint the sky pink and gold.
It felt good to stretch our legs and walk briskly on the firm sand at high tide with the full moon rising. They say the tide runs another foot or so higher in these parts during the full moon.
We enjoyed a home-cooked dinner at their house in Sun City, and caught up on family news and our boat adventures thus far. And they were curious about the work we left behind. Had we left it? What did that feel like? Would we return to it? Both Will and Susan have retired after long careers, and their questions, and our answers, made me very aware of a few thoughts I have about work.
- I’m really enjoying not working. And this surprises me because I love my work. I truly do! I’ve always believed in the adage: “Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.” So I guess I really needed this time to unwind and recharge, even though I love my work.
- I’m grateful that Dudley and I could pause our work and take this sailbatical, confident in ourselves and our abilities to return to work again, and make some money (because we aren’t financially able to retire yet). That takes guts, or so we’ve been told.
- I’m indebted to the workplace for the friendships that I’ve made along the way. The majority of the friendships I’ve made since college were made at work, or through professional associations I joined because of my work.
Which leads me back to Will and Susan. We are enjoying this shore leave in their wonderful home over Thanksgiving weekend because Will and I met 35 years ago at work.
He was my boss from 1980-1982. He became a mentor, and one of my staunchest supporters. With Will’s encouragement, I applied for an adjunct faculty position at a local community college in 1981, just two years after graduating interior design. I almost didn’t submit an application because of my youthful age. But Will said “horse hockey” or something to that effect, insisting that I had the knowledge and the experience to teach interior design. And I got the job! I taught eight wonderful semesters at CCBC in Catonsville before passing the baton to some of my employees.
I had the opportunity to “return the confidence” when Will came to work “for me” in 1999, at a point in his career when he was looking for a different architectural path. We love to tell people that he was my boss and then I was his boss. Truth be told, we always worked side-by-side as colleagues, respecting one another’s skill sets. The work relationship grew into a trusting friendship, with Susan as the icing on the cake.
Yes, some of my best and longest and dearest and treasured friendships were birthed in the workplace. And long after those projects and positions and businesses were completed or eliminated or shut down, the friendships remain.
On this night, the eve before Thanksgiving, I am indeed grateful for the work that led me to these friends. Happy Thanksgiving!