We had high expectations of our stay in Bradenton. We planned to stay a full month, the first planned long term stay of our trip. Marina economics were one of the drivers. Another was a simple desire to sit still for a bit, to recharge. It didn’t work out that way.
I spent much of our time in Bradenton in a funk. As Dawn extracted from me later, I was ready “to be done” with the Loop. I even felt done with the water. I was very depressed.
It wasn’t until late in our Bradenton stay (which turned into two months) that I was able to stack the factors impacting us in January and February, to realize I was depressed, and to understand why.
It started with seeing our new found cruising friends leave Bradenton after only brief stays. Pegasus moved to Long Boat Key, spending a month there. Golden Daze left for Stuart, where they crossed their wake, becoming Gold Loopers. We missed About Time altogether, as we had to be in Michigan during their brief stay.
The reason for our Michigan trip was that Dawn’s uncle Tom was yielding in his fight with cancer. We spent days waiting further news on Tom, mulling our options for traveling North, and in the end, decided to stop waiting and just get up there. Dawn and Lola flew on a one-way ticket to Detroit. A couple days later, I flew to Houston, picked up the car we left there, and drove north, rendezvousing at Dawn’s folks place. About 14 hours into the first day of my drive, near Cairo IL, the flooding and gushing Mississippi river spooked me. Five miles after crossing it, I got a $200 speeding ticket.
As usual, we stayed with Dawn’s parents, Jerry and Lois, who you may remember from the last post. Michigan winter is reason enough to be depressed, especially if you’re visiting from Florida in January. Tom lost his battle during our stay, and while nice to see extended family, those circumstances are never up-lifting. We stayed a few more days before driving to Cleveland for a visit with my mom and my sister’s family, the Montesano’s. In nearly two weeks, we never saw the sun.
These visits foment guilt in me. As if it could be a miracle antidote, I often yearn to live closer. I look at houses on-line and have even engaged a real estate agent to visit a few. Dawn is no fan of this. While discussing this on our drive back to Florida, she surmised that I “was done”. I was shocked, but secretly thought she might be right.
In the week following, back on the boat in Bradenton, this cloud hung over us. Our slip, almost under the highway 41 bridge, was loud; the view from our cockpit, lousy. Our neighbors to one side were battling dementia, terribly sad to see and dangerous if you live on a sailboat. While we made new friends, they were few, as my depressed state zapped my social tendencies. We were lonely there, for to a degree, we didn’t have each other either. I didn’t feel like cooking. Then my mom fell again.
Amazingly, I had not yet realized my funk was depression induced. With Dawn’s encouragement, I countered my sense of guilt and paralysis with another visit to Ohio. Dawn stayed back with Lola, giving me space to figure myself out or perhaps she just needed to be away from my miserable self.
She called in tears one morning, after spending the night in her pajamas, with Lola, taking refuge in the boaters lounge. The electronic gate to our pier malfunctioned and she was locked out. That very night, I called her late and told her to seek shelter immediately in the marina laundry – the area was under a tornado warning and I was watching one’s signature on radar heading right for her. It didn’t touch down in Bradenton, but another did just a few miles north, knocking construction cranes onto the highway.
Our unexpected travels, along with a coming trip to visit friends in Port Saint Lucie caused us to extend our stay in Bradenton an additional month. It was a difficult time for us; it was a difficult time for me. Was I done? Why did I have no desire to be out on the water? I didn’t feel like taking the camera out, and didn’t feel like writing. Subsequent soul searching led me to conclude this was merely depression trying to ensure my misery.
Thankfully, Cirila’s First Mate had a firm hand on the wheel while its Captain was battling his funk. Through our many discussions, one option began to make more sense than any other. We had to leave Bradenton and get back on the water.
Over our final two weeks in Bradenton and having committed to this plan, I started to feel better. A visit with good friends across the state helped heal us. A visit to the Salvator Dali museum was awing and inspirational. I successfully replaced one of our air conditioning units with little fanfare and no cursing. We made new friends and had an impromptu party on Cirila. We slipped lines two days later, bound for Fort Myers.