Homesick

Originally published on 11 November 2016 on LinkedIn.

I am weary as I sink into the bunk. It is the kind of exhaustion which comes from utilising one’s body in the way evolution intended. Today, I have flexed every muscle, stimulated every sense and my bones ache. Although my body is exhausted in the true sense of the word, my mind is enlivened.

Today I went boating.

The day started as the mechanical hum of the generator interrupted the muffled sounds of the sea coming through the two-inch thick Huon Pine hull. I had completely unbroken sleep which is rare. My husband and I forgot to order the seemingly optional extra of sleep when having our children.  They too are exhausted and do not stir until this moment.

It is surprising how quickly the boat can go from the largest of wooden cradles lulling its occupants into a soporific state to a madhouse of boundless energy. But it does. We are awake. Next comes breakfast – a quick affair as the tide was on the turn and the fish on the bite.

Fishing yields a few whiting – enough for a modest lunch. Swimming follows. Then a walk on the beach as the tide recedes. The children learn to dig for pipis in the sand and row the tender back to the boat. Lunch is taken on the back deck in very casual attire (sandy swimmers and mattered hair). More fishing and then it is time to change anchorage. The anchor is hauled, the dinghy hoisted and we are underway.

Our new location will be the one for the night and we head ashore to investigate. We explore the mangroves and chase the crabs. A short walk across the rocks reveals caves with indigenous paintings of indeterminate age. As the sun is setting and the adults are parched, we retire to the boat for sundowners.

After dinner, I take the children to the roof of the cabin. There are no city lights and limited illumination from other sources. The fish are attracted to the deck lights and the dolphins to the fish. The sea mammals swim just outside of the pool of light from the boat and herd the unsuspecting fish into a trap. It is calm with only the occasional splash.

Horizon to horizon is lit up with stars. For city children, it is a rare and delightful treat. Soon enough though it is time for bed and I am weary as I sink into the bunk.

But I startle and roll over to see my neon alarm clock from home blinking 06:00.

It was a dream. I am actually in my very standard, very static bed in Singapore and instantly, I am completely and utterly homesick.

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