It’s the day after Edouard left for Marseille. It occurs to me this morning that we are on the first day of our solo paths.
My original plan was to spend two weeks of rest in Europe with Edouard. Because he was offered his job quite quickly, it left me with an extra five days to myself.
I wasn’t ready to go back to Martinique just yet. Not straight after saying goodbye. With my possessions from Marseille packed in a suitcase, I booked a ticket home to England. I would spend five days with friends and family, drop off everything I had into my storage unit, and then return to Papageno on Sunday.
I’m going to spend the next five days being kind to myself. Taking things slow, painting, walking and enjoying my hometown, allowing my mind to rest and simply be for a while.
I’ve been blown away by your kindness. I think that is what has driven me on. Made me believe I can do this. I’ve based my decision with Papageno with; “how will I sleep easier at night? Selling her for 6000 euros or giving it one last shot?”
Edouard is supportive of whichever decision I make. “I’ll help you, whichever way you chose,” he said.
And so I gave it one last chance with the Kickstarter campaign, linking every pledge to an item in my shop. Every donation would actually in turn be a purchase. I don’t know why that’s important to me, but it’s vital for me to know that I can give something in return. Call it pride, embarrassment or desperation. When I typed it out, I decided not to care about the haters. I didn’t care about their thoughts or opinions of me. The most important thing in that moment was to try. What was going to be the benefit to listen to their words anyway? To let their negativity sink through my skin, veins and enter my heart, polluting all of the good thoughts I had been feeling about this path in the past recent days.
I was going to try my best, through my shop. To save Papageno. God help me, I really want to try.
I woke up this morning to see we had raised well over my target of £3000 for the rigging. And we’re on day 2. I’m astounded. We bloody did it! Out of a 30 day Kickstarter project, we’ve raised beyond. And there’s 28 days left. At this rate, I’ll be able to get her electrics and safety rail sorted as well. And so, I’m up first thing, painting commissions, writing the blog, organising the shop, creating the orders and having an obscene amount of tea made for me by my mate Tommy at the same time.
It’s strange to be back in the place where it all started, back in my housemate’s Steve’s house. Tommy is next to me, playing the guitar, the door outside open to the sound of English birdsong. Last night my friends came round to see me, so many months gone since I saw their faces, heard their stories and drank rum all together. I talked with them about Papageno, about the future, about what had happened. About returning over winter. About settling between life in Nuneaton and Papageno. Finding a crew.
It was a relief when I stepped off the plane and listened to the familiar lilt of accents and slang of my country. Walking outside, I could see my mother running across the carpark towards me. Within a moment she was hugging me and I crumbled again, letting out the tears as she patted my back.
“It’s all right love,” she said. “It’s all right.”
I was reminded very quickly of everything I loved and missed about England. The vibrancy and difference of the colours of greens, oranges and yellows in the trees and fields as we wound around the country lanes. We were heading towards my Nan’s, who I hadn’t seen in 7 months.
“Oh, Elizabeth, I’m so happy for you,” she said to me on the phone when I had called her from France. “You’ve done so much and been so many places. It’s wonderful. Utterly wonderful.”
I smiled, feeling an unexpected wave of joy wash through me. I had expected to hear disappointment that I was turning tail and coming home. But I had gotten none. All I received was love and encouragement.
Walking into the house I grew up was surreal as I stooped down to give my Nan a big hug, the dogs around her wagging their tails furiously. My dad was working in the back room at the computer where my Granddad used to often sit.
After a hug, we got straight down to business as my dad asked about everything that had happened, what was I going to do, what was my plan, what was the better outcome- sell the boat or keep her.
I talked about the plan of investing one last effort into her masts, rigging, taking on a crew in the new year, travelling slowly over time back to Europe as we repaired and renovated Papageno for two months at a time, returning home to England for four months to work, concentrate on the shop, editing, embarking of various courses with the RYA, light electrics and light mechanics at the local college, sourcing the next crew and starting again for another two months. 2 months on, 4 months off.
That is an idea that I’m at peace with right now. That I can go to bed and be happy with.
“You’ve grown,” he told me as he hugged me. Truth be told, I felt like ten years old again as I hugged him back.
“Andy… I can’t breathe…”
“I’m loving you,” he admonished, tightening his grip.
“But I’m going to die…” I rasped, waiting another twenty seconds of little to no oxygen until he finally released me.
What an incredible family I have.
I’ve got an incredible amount to learn about being a responsible boat owner. My engine, how to wire everything, my water systems… It’s a lot. I can even feel the fear settling into my stomach as I imagine myself doing something so simple (according to Edouard) as changing the pipes for the sink.
I’ve promised to Laura to try my best when I come back. To be alive. To take advantage of the time we have left with Papageno before we pack up to return for Christmas. We’ll work, enjoy the sun, go swimming, work again, have fun, laugh, enjoy the project. We have 20 days from today until Leela gets her blood test results back to be allowed entry into England, so we’ll be taking advantage of that time to do what work we can. It is my absolute wish to get her masts and rigging done before we leave. I think it’s achievable. I got the entire quote yesterday including labour for the installation.
- Creation of cables fixtures 1500-2500 euros
- Installation of masts and rigging 500 euros
- Reinforcement and splicing of masts 600 euros
- Pontoon rent 25 euros per day- 5 days. 125
- Total Max 3725euros
It would end the year the best way possible to get it done. For me personally. To start looking forward. And then there’s the scenario of getting Leela back to England. Because she’s technically a French dog, it’s a lot easier getting her to France. Getting her to England is a different matter. Edouard is willing to drive us both from France to England. This gives him an excuse to see Leela and me an excuse to see him.
I don’t know how I feel about it this morning. Sometimes I feel weak and sometimes I feel strong. Sometimes I’m convinced that it was the best thing for both of us and that we both needed this time. Other times, I just want to be curled up back next to him, laughing about Mr Bean.
But one thing is for sure, I need to go back to Papageno on Sunday with fire in my belly. A plan. Determination. So, I will take advantage over the next five days, recuperate my heart with friends and family, prepare the pledges to be posted off from the Kickstarter and maybe I’ll even go to my local second hand bookshop.
I’m a bit astounded at how all of this turned out. When I had to release that bog sharing with you all about Edouard and I, I didn’t expect any of this. I was so sure that I was going to go home with my tail between my legs. I was convinced I had lost everything.
But in truth, the only thing I had lost was myself.
I’m working hard to find her again, to find her strength, to find her fire.
I think maybe we can heal together, Papageno and I.
If you’d like to check out the Kickstarter “Save Papageno” head here!