Who is carefree? Is that even a thing? Is that something people feel? Ever? I’m not talking about children. I’m talking about adults. Real grown-ups. People responsible for other people. I don’t think so. The days of being carefree, for me, were spent on my father’s sailboat. The excitement would start as soon as I would see him grab the bag. “The bag”. It was an awful color green with tacky red handles and was canvas. Typical sailboat bag. Miscellany crap was thrown in that bag including sunscreen, Band-Aid’s, the odd granola bar, a jar of peter pan peanut butter, and whatever else my mother thought my dad may need to keep us safe or fed, or entertained while out at sea.
The drive to the boat seemed like an eternity though, it was a mere twenty-minute drive. Windows down, music blaring, excited chatter with whomever was accompanying us this particular time. We would always stop at Penny’s Market for boat essentials: Spaghetti, sauce, soda, chips, crackers, cheese and whatever junk food we wanted. My dad would grab ice, I would try to get an extra special treat from the front counter, Reese’s peanut butter cups of course, before we would start the walk down to the docks. Boating is not just jumping on a boat and enjoying the sun and sea. Many people believe it is just like the movies. It’s not. There is a lot of prep involved. Not just the packing food, clothes, and appropriate supplies but getting everyone to the boat. Our boat was on a mooring. So we would wait on the dock while my dad would row out in our inflatable dingy. He would tie the dingy to the boat and then motor to the dock. We would fuel up, clean the boat, shake out the sails, put our stuff away and make sure we were all set before heading out for the open water.
Guiding the boat delicately around other moorings, and boats, and kayaker’s and buoys is not as easy as it looks but it is incredibly fun. It’s the lead up to the big finish. Once the boat reaches the mouth of the harbor, giving way to the free ocean is an amazing moment. It is the epitome of carefree. In that moment a person can forget about bills, and kids, and addiction, and poor grades, or disappointing parents or whatever it is that is worrisome at that time. There is nothing to do but take in and appreciate the majestic sea. Smell the saltiness in the air, feel the rock of the waves, hear the squawk of the seagulls, because those are the things the ocean has to offer. There is no false promise or deception. The ocean is exactly what you sea. It might change at any second. It might turn on you, but you know that going in. There is something carefree about knowing exactly where you stand with someone or something. I always knew where I stood with the ocean. My father gave my sister and me explicit instructions about life jackets, and weather changes, and keeping our guard up but the truth is I would look out at the vast expanse with awe and respect always knowing that the beauty could turn ugly at any moment.
I miss the carefree days. I miss running through the sprinkler in the dog days of summer in my backyard, and falling asleep with my favorite blanket wrapped around my arm, and not worrying about whether I have dog food, diet coke and coffee cream for my morning coffee. Adulting has few carefree days. Even on vacation or a sick day I am still worried about my buildings having funding or if their Medicare payments came in or if the staffing is better or if my own checkbook looks scary and did I remember to pay the light bill and did AC change my oil and why is my inspection sticker 3 months past expiration? Add children, nearly adult children to boot, on top of that makes carefree days seem like a thing of the past and never to be a thing in the future. Even my 91-year old crazy as the day is long grandmother isn’t carefree anymore and she should be. She has more money than she could spend in her lifetime, however short that may be (though, I personally believe she drinks the devils blood for breakfast so she will be around until the second coming of Christ) and she lives in a building full of people who will listen to her tell stories all day across from a beach in an apartment with veranda that faces the ocean and yet she still worries about missing the cable guy or the call from her neighbor or whether I kennel my cats when I go on vacation or if Jay J can handle feeding them. Carefree days are gone once a person, any person starts adulting. Normally, teenagers are rushing to adult. We get fake ID’s and primp our hair, apply makeup and wear high-heels to make us look older when the reality is we should be walking around with a bottle and a binkie trying to convince people we are really minors so no one will expect us to adult.
I also wonder if it is carefree to walk out of rehab 18 hours after you check in. I wonder if a person skips out of detox with her hair blowing in the wind without a care in the world not even a day after her mother makes wine out of water to try to find a bed, leave work to drive her 2 hours one way, buy 4 packs of cigarettes, drive 2 hours back to work and work another 4 hours to make up for the time she missed. I wonder if my child was carefree when that happened this week.