the Bahamas

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Boaters have a saying that if you’re lucky, you go to the Exumas when you die. Not only had I not heard that saying before we booked our trip, I hadn’t even heard of the Exumas. But after spending a week on board Blackbeard’s MV Morningstar, a 65″ sloop sailed by Captain Red and an excellent crew, I feel like there may be something to it. There are  365 cays and islands in the Exumas chain alone with any number of coves and reefs to explore – and yes, the water really is that colour.

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It was our first liveabord experience so we were a little startled when we saw that 29 people (23 guests – and all their gear – plus 6 crew) were going to be sharing such a small space but we soon got into the routine of getting up early, getting in the water, and exploring. By evening we were so spent from exercise, heat, fresh air and the early hour of darkness that it only took a beer or two to send us off to bed.

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I would have liked to see some more and bigger sharks but it was a great trip and we had so much fun with our friends. It was an excellent intro into what it can be like at sea and on a liveabord, as well as some more diving experience for Matt. Some other firsts:

  • Matt’s first (and several more) shark sighting
  • Matt’s first time in a blue hole (below)
  • Our first time traveling with someone else, my awesome dive buddy Talia (who took that photo of me, above).

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It set the stage for some exciting trips that we’re already planning for next year but I’d also like to make it an annual thing where we travel somewhere warm with some awesome people and without any internet access. Here are all of the photos:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/degan/sets/72157632793337412/

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Sunlight on the Water

Sunlight on the water

Today it has been 10 years since my mom died. It feels like a big day and I want to spend it doing something big to commemorate her. My sister and I talked about going back to Venice where we scattered her ashes, but over this years that plan has faded and instead I got back from the Bahamas late last night on a completely unrelated trip. In past years, on her birthday and mother’s day and the anniversary of her death, I’ve looked through photo albums or bought flowers and carried them around with me or threw them in the ocean, not entirely sure what to do. Usually I make a point of wearing the locket she gave me and end up at the beach – a place that was special to both of us – in contemplative silence, worrying the cool weight of the silver…but what I really want is to talk about her.

A lot of time has passed and while the grief has faded like everyone said it would, her death changed my life. Before she died I thought nothing bad would ever happen, or at least I imagined bad things happening in kind of a benign, abstract way. Life was golden. So it seems fitting that when I remember her, I remember sunlight. She was an incredibly warm person and she radiated that light in photographs and in person; when she smiled (which was often), when she fell over sideways from laughing (also frequently), when she was waving to me from the table in the restaurant where we met for wine on Fridays (I was always late so she was always there) or when she opened the door with a flourish of excitement when I came for dinner. Helen is Greek for “shining light” and it seems to me that she was always smiling. I know that can’t be true – no one smiles all the time, but when I think about her, I still feel warm. That hasn’t faded.

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Many other details have. I am losing the hard edges of memory and they details are overlapping on themselves as they disintegrate with time, like sunlight dancing on water. At one moment you see your reflection and then it’s gone in a glint of light or maybe the flash of a fish just below the surface.

It gets a bit complicated because while I do conisider her very much my mom, I’m adopted and she was my birth mother so I also have an adopted mom who I love with much. It matters because I met Helen as an adult and I only knew a couple of her friends well. Most of them I’ve completely lost contact with and very few of the friends I had then are still around. Stupidly I never introduced her to my adoptive family. So when I want to talk about her I have to rely on myself. I am frustrated with myself for forgetting but I haven’t been telling stories. There has been too many years of not talking about her and so I will start now with what I have left – her smile and her light.

When I was connected with her through the adoption agency, I wasn’t sure who she would be or what I was getting myself into but I did know that I did not need another adult to judge and criticize me. I agonized over that letter (possibly even more than I did over this blog post) but finally decided that I had nothing to lose and wrote everything out in detail. I tried to tell the whole story of who I was with my whole heart and when she wrote back full of warmth and love, I finally felt understood. I felt like I had come home. We met at the boulder on White Rock Beach and sat there talking until it was dark and cold – then we went to a cafe and talked until it closed. Matt is the only other person in my life that I’ve felt this close and connected to. I miss her so much.

 

Shiny New Year / New Blog

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Well it’s 2013 and I have started another blog. I wasn’t entirely convinced I was going to see either of those happen because I was so incredibly burnt out last year, and well…I have a lot of blogs. But it’s a new year and even though I often stare dumbfounded at people who stop conversations at otherwise interesting parties to count down a completely arbitrary 10 seconds, there is something revitalizing about the start of a new year. I’m looking forward to getting a dog and getting back into shape, continuing to do lots of diving and riding and any new adventures that come our way.

And now I have a new place to record them all! It seems very odd, starting a personal blog in 2013. I had one once, way back in 2001, that I hand-coded it myself called cultofdegan.com. It was as complete  of an “all about me” site as you could ask for, with a list of what I was reading, my mood at the time of posting, all my vacation photos as well as a manual archive system and monthly rotating quote bar (also manual) – which could possibly explain the lack of regular posting. It was the time of GeoCities and MySpace and claiming your small section of the internet to put up whatever cat videos or unicorns or whatever you felt like because it was YOUR page! We didn’t care about privacy or spelling or the possibility that our “adventures” would be a part of the internet archive forever.

But here I am again and I admit, I do like having everything in one place. I’m not promising it’ll be regular or interesting but we’ll see how it goes.

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January always feels like a transitional month to me. Just a little too busy after the fatigue of the holidays while you’re also trying to go to the gym and eat well and trying to remember where you put your work files or what your days were like before starting them with Baileys. We made some cassoulet for the Gastown SocialBites event which is always a lot of fun making food for strangers (who are actually often our friends) and Maceo has been sick for the first time since we’ve had her so we’ve been back and forth to the vet a couple of times. Hopefully it’s not serious but we still don’t know what’s wrong with her.

Matt is off to Ontario and then Seattle this week so I’ll be hanging out with the cat, getting ready for my art class and the madness of being away from our company, the internet and stores while we’re on a dive trip in the Bahamas next month.