The Boatist

Sailboat Ownership, Translation Work and Tales of Minor Adventure

Retire early, be passionate, don't worry, die poor

Friday, March 4, 2011

A New Life

After my breakup with Ali and the inheritance conflict, I left town and began another life. I stopped renting rooms, closed down the greenhouses and moved into a one-bedroom apartment in Lisbon.

New life abroad
The  new life
In Lisbon, I started writing as I had promised Jordan on that fafetufl night at Grossman's Tavern in Toronto where we pledged to live like writers. I actually began writing a novel but quickly realized I hadn't yet learned the craft of writing.

Instead, I began teaching English and soon thereafter became a freelance translator from Portuguese to English.


English teachers
In the days when I still smoked

I fell under the illusion that being a translator would be the next best thing, a sort of honorable mention for lame ducks. I curse that day and, in fact, have found myself spouting an unhealthy number of curses ever since.

And whereas my writing efforts fizzled and popped like soap bubbles, my translation career took off like a manic rocket. I say manic because it became unstoppable, uncontrollable, frenzied and, by God, meaningless.

The key word here is meaningless, the ruthless march to nowhere, the caffeine-spiked thrashing of success without purpose.

I bought a house, a Mercedes, a jeep, a 39-foot sailboat...I bought myself into what Thoreau called “a life of quiet desperation.” I willingly yoked myself to a heavy cart, doomed to a life of plodding in circles watching life pass me by in slow motion.

But where there is desire, there’s always a means to salvation and mine presented itself in the form of my sailboat. Here was the vessel perfectly designed for immediate escape, the magic carpet that would take me back to the simple life I had betrayed.

For those who have never voyaged on a sailboat, you cannot imagine what it’s like to cast the lines, motor out of the harbor, hoist the sails and quietly, slowly and almost magically cut through the water to the rhythmic splashing of water against the hull.

When living on a sailboat, you don't watch television, you watch for the weather, the stars, the shoreline. You go about your business of maintaining the boat and yourself shipshape. You're not alone because there is a happy sailing community around you, and you're not bored because you discover yourself and, on a rainy day, that's all you need for company.

Damn though, I'm getting ahead of myself and have barely scratched the surface of my past lives. It will all come slowly. Be patient.

Sailing to the Algarve
Sailing to the Algarve