I remember, on our first Pacific crossing, talking to an Australian sailor who had been out for four years.
"Of course the family keeps in touch," she said. "But your friends pretty much forget about you after you've been gone for a year."
This last week or so we've been enjoying the living, breathing evidence that things haven't worked out that way in our case - our good friend Zoya has made it all the way down here from Kodiak for a visit.
We've had a great time with her. And it's been a full visit - we just got back from a three-day sail, Zoya is catching the 0600 flight to Melbourne tomorrow - and she and Alisa are out on the town right now, dancing to the best that Hobart has to offer.
In addition to catching up with Zoya, we've taken the opportunity to catch up on all the hometown news. Kodiak is a town of only 6,000 people, with no road that takes you anywhere bigger. So it's a place where everyone knows everyone, and Zoya has something to tell us about just about every one of our friends.
Of course it's been fun to hear about what's going on back home. But hearing those stories has also made it clear to me that Kodiak isn't really home any more. We still have dear friends there, and it's the place that we hope to return to when our sailing is over. But everyone's life there has of course been moving along in the nearly five years that we've been away, and we're just a memory in that place, not at all a part of current affairs.
And, well, when I hear about Kodiak these days, it all sounds very small-town to me. For the most part I loved the small town-ness of it when we were living there. But when you live in a small, remote town in Alaska, you're very much dependant on the luck of the draw in who happens to be living there at the same time as you, and is therefore available to be a part of your social universe. When we moved to Kodiak we got unreasonably lucky in being there at the same time as a group of really remarkable people who made the place exciting for us. Some of those people are gone now, and the ones who are still there don't get together the way they used to. Things change, and that scene won't be waiting for us when we return.
And, well, since we've been gone we've made friends from France, England, Scotland, Italy, Holland, Switzerland, the Cook Islands, the Marquesas, New Zealand, Australia...and Tasmania! Our world view has grown accordingly. When all this traveling comes to an end I'll be happy to scale things down to the delightful corner of the world that is Kodiak. But I can see that there will be a bit of readjustment that will be required...