Sunday, April 5, 2009

Where in the world am I today?

That's an easy one -- HOME!


I flew in on Sunday night and have started trying to put my life back together. Genuine "real-world" things like finding my car keys, replacing my credit cards and wallet that apparently didn't make the trip back from the Canaries, and standing in line at the DMV for a new driver's license. The culture-shock of returning to real life, especially in Fairfield County, CT, has been completely bewildering, and not as much of a relief as I expected.


I've realized that on the boat I was living literally on the bare essentials -- food, water, and shelter from the elements were all I had and all I needed. Luxuries were limited to an iPod, a sat phone, and computer - all of which helped to keep my mind occupied, but were useless bricks of metal and plastic when it came to keeping me alive.


For the last two days I've been constantly surprised and awed by the excesses of the life that I was so accustomed to only a few months ago. I'm able to provide for the bare essentials that are absolutely critical to life at sea with zero effort or real cost - it's a feeling of incredibly undeserved ease, and one that right now I'm extremely uncomfortable with.


For example, I'm writing from a Starbucks in Greenwich, CT, and out the window I can see half a million dollars worth of cars....Mercedes Benzes, Land Rovers, and countless SUVs. The guy sitting at the table across from me is wearing a suit and tie and furiously typing on his Blackberry. On the Atlantic, my only "currency" was in the form of Ramen Noodles and British Army biscuits that occasionally turned up as I ate my way through food rations and that I would stash away until "cashing them in" when I needed a pick-me-up. With this in mind, you can probably imagine how strange it feels to be back in a world with priorities very different from those that had become my own during my 87 days on the ocean.


I suppose that this feeling will go away soon, but for now I'm wondering "where in the world am I?"


I really miss Liv.



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A Challenge to the Rowing Community

Do you row? Have you rowed? Do you know someone who rows? If so, here's a special challenge to you!

Taking inspiration from Paul Ridley's incredible solo row across the Atlantic, Bob Glendening has generously offered to match all new donations to www.rowforhope.com from members of the rowing community. His generosity also stems from his family's devotion to rowing and its personal experience with cancer. The Glendening Boat House at Colgate was given by the family in 2004 in memory of his mother, who lost her battle with cancer in 2000.

So if you row and you want to show your support for a fellow rower who's crossing the Atlantic solo and unsupported, please consider an online donation to www.rowforhope.com.

Please be sure to add "Glendening Challenge" when completing the Gift Information section online at www.rowforhope.com.

Paul

14 comments:

Anonymous said...

Welcome home Paul. Just think of yourself as one of the pioneers crossing north america for the first time, except that they had much worse contidions awaiting them. You will adjust and get your life in order. Congratulation on a great journey. Glad you enjoyed your stay in Antigua,they are a wonderful country and people.

Fred Jones
Upstate NY

Jameira said...

Funny, I know right where you are and can picture you seeing all of those cars....along with a Lexus dealership right up the street. I work in Greenwich so what you are saying is all too familiar. Welcome back!!

Anonymous said...

Lest we forget, Greenwich CT is most definitely not the real world...

Allyson A. said...

Hi Paul,
It sounds like your odyssey is continuing with its new and somewhat unexpected challenge to navigate the "currents" of a vastly altered perspective on multiple levels! It's almost as if the collaborative element between you and the ocean is shifting direction: while on the water, you were doing what you could to harness and navigate the conditions it threw your way, and now, the ocean - and the range of your experiences with it - is reframing and refocusing the lenses through which you experience life on the land. Perhaps now there will always be a bit of sea water coursing through your veins and a salty rim around your retina! (Sorry for getting so philosophical!) Best wishes for the interview tomorrow. How cool! ..and best wishes with the ongoing readjustment to life on the land! Allyson A.

ms. changes pants while driving said...

your story is AWESOME. wouldn't life be so much easier if we traded in ramen noodles?

but i guess there could be some sort of uprising against the ramen hoarders or something. a ramen revolution.

where was i? i had a comment in here somewhere.

thank you for posting about all of this. thank you for raising money and awareness for cancer. thank you for being brave.

Katy said...

Paul,

The flicker pictures are amazing! Glad all of the paparazzi turned out for your arrival!

Katy

Seshat said...

You are the bridge between Mercedes Benzes and Liv -
And you will sleep upon Liv again..
Thankfully -
Nancy

Susan T. said...

Ah, and there you are back in the Motherland of all Excesses... Fairfield Cty., CT. I know just the Starbucks. I know just how you feel. I was a frequent camper when I was a youngster (my back doesn't sleep so well on the ground anymore). I always derived much more real pleasure from dehydrated something or other in the middle of nowhere under thousands of stars than I ever did in the middle of everywhere at a restaurant of "five stars." It has always amazed and perplexed me about what we think we "need."

Welcome home.

Susan

Melanie said...

Paul,

FANTASTIC to see you today! Looking forward to catching up. Good luck with the culture shock!

~melanie

Wild Bill said...

Will I see LIV making late night runs to Green as I fish the pin bouy there??


....and what is LIV's limit for 'boat-people"?

Who has the flashlight???
{LOL}


Har, har, har !

Anonymous said...

Welcome Home.
As with all things soon enough everything will be back to "normal". You've done such a great job writing in your blog, hopefully you have also been keeping a journal. It would be a shame to lose your thoughts and feelings about every step of your incredible journey. Waiting to hear about details of a welcome home shin-dig.....Gabby

Anonymous said...

Welcome home, Paul. It is comforting to know that you are safely back from your most courageous trip. Every night after looking at your blog I went to bed imagining you as a tiny speck in the vast Atlantic Ocean, with only Liv to keep you safe. There is a good reason why sailors are so attached to their ships. (My brother often referred to his boat as a mother.) It's not surprising that you feel rudderless (in more ways than one) at the moment. You did something so great and unusal that "real" life must seem odd to you now. What an amazing adventure you have already behind you and you are still so young!
Best wishes,
Margit

Anonymous said...

Welcome home! It really is amazing how much we think we need to live. I bet your feeling an amazing amount of sensory overload right now.

Lori - Endicott

Jordan said...

Thanks for everything, Paul!

I don't leave many comments here, but I loved Allyson's "philosophical" post today, and wanted to react.

For me, your last couple of blog entries have been among the most captivating of your whole experience! I hope you share these mental and psychological reactions to being back in the man-made world when you visit us at BHS.

It is a good time for all of us in Binghamton to be taking stock of some "big things" that you have alluded to many times over these months! :)

-Jordan T.