The Trouble With Getting On Boats With Strangers

March 28, 2012



The trouble with spending a day on a boat with a stranger is that I have lots of people who love me. Particularly my husband. So imagine his concern when he receives the following texts throughout the day:

11:24AM: I made friends with a Greek man at Starbucks. He has a boat.
1:01PM: We’re having a beer on an island!
2:58PM: I’m at the marina behind Starbucks. Yiorgos is cooking me some shrimp and salmon.

I thought I was being really great about checking in. I even included vague* locations – just in case Jeremy needed to come search for my remains. And while I had the entire picture in mind and felt perfectly safe, my texts left lots to the imagination. *I’m admittedly not the best communicator.

And every time I start to tell the story to friends or family they cover their mouths and their eyes get wide. They are convinced the story is going to go in a different direction that ends badly. So it always feels anticlimactic when it ends with: And then I said goodbye and went to the farmers market.

The whole adventure brought up LOTS of questions that are yet to be answered. Things like:
• How risky/brave/stupid is it to trust a stranger? For me, I have flexed my muscle around believing most people are good and have never had my trust violated in such a way that makes me afraid of anyone I don’t already know.
• Is this a feminist issue? If I were a man or roles were reversed would it be so risky/brave/stupid?
• Is this a cultural issue? Has the media made it so women in the United States are terrified of everything?
• Where do I draw the line? Part of what Jeremy loves about me is that I’m not afraid – but the way I spent my day had him worried (with good reason). I have to balance my desire for adventure with Jeremy’s need for consideration. For us we decided the line is drawn when it goes from a public setting to a private setting.
• What could I do differently next time? This is the hardest question to answer because there were so many variables to that day. It’s hard to make rules for yourself when you actively seek out different experiences in life. Ultimately, I’ve decided that it all comes down to communication. If I can properly communicate my expectations, locations and intentions I can create a safe perimeter around my crazy adventures. Boundaries that will make Jeremy and my mom feel better about letting my free spirit roam.
• What exactly was my gut saying? The fact that I even had to check with my gut at all says that something was amiss – that what I was doing wasn’t completely okay. And you guys – I’m really not even the best judge of character. I just knew that if shit went down that I’d be able to handle it.
• What if? I won’t entertain the questions of what could have happened. Part of being present means assessing a situation for what it is and not becoming too preoccupied with what ifs.

So I’m not saying everyone should throw caution to the wind and get on boats with strangers. I made some decisions that day that make lots of people really uncomfortable to even hear about. But I do wish we could all be a little less afraid.

I’m curious to hear your thoughts.

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