I didn’t grow up listening to Jimmy Buffett.
In fact, I think the first memory I have of listening to anything Buffett was near the end of college when my dad gave me a few Jimmy Buffett CDs for a spring break road trip to Florida with my friend. I had already agreed to enter the Florida Army National Guard down in Homestead, FL (the closest point to the Keys you could get without going to the Keys), so I was up for anything that sounded like sunshine and a beach coming through my speakers. He told me I couldn’t move to South Florida and not be a Parrothead.
Okay, old man, not sure what a Parrothead is, but I don’t think I’m going to be one.
It would be another five years before I would listen to Buffett again and I certainly wasn’t in South Florida. I was back in Ohio.
Once TJ and I began to research and dream about moving onto a sailboat I started listening to Caribbean Soca music and Central American Garifuna tunes; the rhythms getting into my blood and making me excited to explore. Then I re-discovered Jimmy Buffett and the Coral Reefers.
The blend of steel drums, guitar, rock and roll with a Caribbean feel led me to the popular songs – Fins; One Particular Harbor; Son of Sailor; Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes; and the like; dreaming of boat drinks in distant anchorages socializing with other sailors who ditched the 9 to 5 for adventure. I wanted to see Jimmy Buffett play but every time he was within driving distance TJ was at work and I wasn’t going to experience my first show without him. Jimmy would have to wait.
Fast forward three more years to living on a boat, having the adventure blow up in our faces and only making it as far as the Florida Keys. Well, it was still a tropical adventure where we met some crazy characters you can only find in marinas and far off anchorages. People who successfully shed the 9 to 5 for a sailboat, sunsets and sundowners. “No shoes, no shirt, no problems” (oh wait, that’s my other favorite – Kenny Chesney). We are still friends with those people, occasionally receiving a text or two asking when we are coming back.
I made a goal for 2020 to read a lot more and social media a lot less. I successfully deactivated my Facebook and Instagram accounts (keeping only the Caye to Life Instagram account), shedding them for more time to read. While I’ll spare you my book list so far (five) there is one that made me realize I am a Parrothead after all.
A Pirate Looks at Fifty by none other than Jimmy Buffett
While I am still 17 years away from fifty, this book spoke to my soul and put words to parts of me that I never could.
This book is what we wish we could be, the story of what we had hoped our adventuring souls would find. In Jimmy’s words, why he seeks adventure and travel – not tourism – may as well be our words. His zest for living life radically different from the 9 to 5, work yourself to death American Dream is how we had hoped to raise Vivienne.
Like Buffett, we longed to spend extended amounts of time in Caribbean counties giving Vivienne an education you can’t learn behind the brick walls of a school. But, sadly, we don’t have a net worth of $660 million with the ability to fly our own plane and pay for relatives to visit on a whim; all of which makes a life of education outside the confines of the American education system to be a bit difficult.
“It had taken me thirty-three years to get to my first oceanside waterfall. My kids had made it during their single-digit years. That’s what it’s all about. They will be moving on before we know it, headed off to adolescence and adulthood like Savannah before them. When they get there, I want them to have a sense of who they are and what the world they live in is really all about. I sit sometimes and wonder, listening to parents I know in New York talk about the proper preschool that will enable their children to be best prepared for the primo kindergarten in the city. My God, I think. Is this about what’s best for the kids, or is it about what the parents missed in their childhood? The rewarding part of parenting is getting to share experiences with your children. The way I look at it, experience is still the best teacher. There’s plenty of time for my kids to adapt to whatever school situation they’ll eventually find themselves in.” -excerpt from A Pirate Looks at Fifty that sums up how we feel about bringing up Vivienne in today’s society.
Throughout the book I found myself dog earring pages – something I never to do a book – and jotting down quotations. I often found myself thinking Buffett, TJ and I share the same brain. For me, the poem Jimmy shared at the end of the book sums up how we feel exactly, especially me:
The Double Life
How very simple life would be
if only there were two of me
A Restless Me to drift and roam
A Quiet Me to stay at home.
A Searching One to find his fill
Of varied skies and newfound thrill
While sane and homely things are done
By the domestic Other One
And that’s just where the trouble lies;
There is a Restless Me that cries
For chancy risks and changing scene,
For arctic blue and tropic green,
For deserts with their mystic spell,
For lusty fun and raising Hell
But shackled to that Restless Me
My Other Self rebelliously
Resists the frantic urge to move.
It seeks the old familiar groove
That habits make. It finds content
With hearth and home – dear prisonment,
With Candlelight and well-loved books
And treasured loot in dusty nooks,
With puttering and garden things
And dreaming while a cricket sings
And all the while the Restless One
Insists on more exciting fun,
It wants to go with every tide,
No matter where…just for the ride.
Like yowling cats the two selves brawl
Until I have no peace at all.
One Eye turns to the forward track,
The other eye looks sadly back.
I’m getting wall-eyed from the strain,
(It’s tough to have an idle brain)
But One says “Stay” and One says “Go”
And One says “Yes,” and One says “no,”
And One Self wants a home and wife
And One Self craves the drifter’s life.
The Restless Fellow always wins
I wish my folks had made me twins.
There are so many quotations from this book I want to share to help explain our brains, and yet I’ve already written too much. Some are listed below, except this first one, which is a paraphrase because in a 420-page book I can’t find it again:
There isn’t a place I’ve visited that I haven’t fanaticized about living.
(For us: Belize, Mexico, USVI, Puerto Rico, Grenada, Florida Keys…)
“I see the lights of a ship heading east toward the night, and I can’t help but wonder where it’s going and what its passengers are up to. I’ve been home barely an hour, and I’m thinking of where to go next. What’s that all about?”
“One of my pet peeves is the indifference educators and students feel toward geography. It is small minds and small thinkers who don’t consider anything outside of their neighborhood important. We are all citizens of the world.”
“Home is where you come from. It is not where you live at the present time, and though I doubt I will ever live in Alabama again, I will always think of it as home.”
(just replace Alabama with Ohio)
There are so many more that I either can’t find or are too long to put in this extremely long blog.
Bottom line: I love adventures and travel, not strategically planned tourism.
Driving on the left in the VIs; navigating my way around the streets of San Juan on a fuel stop to find a tienda with the best avocados I’ve ever had; walking around Cancun exploring on my own in college; eating a hole in the wall Garifuna restaurant in Belize – off the beaten path…sailing 1,000 nm through the Caribbean Island chain with minimal stops with just my husband.
So, at the end of the day, I guess you could say I am a Parrothead; a Buffett fan and adventurer.