August 6th, 2002

The gentleman is always properly dressed

1996

At least I think it was... I read about the Picton Castle, a small three-masted barque that was being restored in Nova Scotia. The ship was being outfitted for round the world working cruises, sailing the southern hemisphere and supplying small island nations of which you’ve likely never heard with much needed commodities. Adventure travel. For a mere $32K, you could reserve a spot amongst the crew of just shy of 50 for an entire year. A year of cramped quarters, hard work, a diet composed primarily of seafood, limited contact with the outside world.

Taking stock of the situation at the time, I found that I was no longer a strong swimmer, disliked cramped spaces, and had a tremendous fear of heights. All things considered, it was fucking perfect. I didn’t go because I was afraid… of doing something so outrageous, of casting my lot to the literal wind, of not knowing what was going to happen once I got back. I was also afraid because of the big dollar signs. I’ve never been good with big dollar signs. My mom put the living fear of some god of filthy lucre in me at an early age, and I’ve never been able to shake the idea that I’m wasting money every time I spend more than a C note on a single item or service. Remnants of my "Tuna - It’s what’s for dinner (... and lunch, and breakfast for that matter)" days. I do truly wish that I could think of money as a tool rather than a bolster against the inevitable calamity that lurks over the horizon.

Had I emptied out my retirement savings and sold everything I owned, I probably could have raised nearly $20K. For the other $12K, I have little idea what I could have done. Clearly, formal lenders would not have financed such a frivolous adventure for fear that I might jump ship in Fiji. Parental donations were probably right out for much the same reason. I feel like I could have managed something, though, whether through grants or fundraising or whatever nefarious scheme I could cook up had I been creative enough and committed enough to do whatever I needed to get on that ship.

Not to be. It was one of the few instances that I positively knew what I wanted and I didn’t go anywhere near it.

Every once in a while I wonder how different things would be had I taken the plunge. I might have explored photography. I might have come back to find my way into a career that’s worth doing, albeit less lucrative. I might even have jumped ship in the South Pacific just for the sheer idiocy of the idea.

Sitting here in the ashes, my 401K equivalent no longer worth anything and shouldering an unfair, legally manufactured debt, I can’t help but think that I would have been better off.
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    Red Hot Chili Peppers, "Tear"