In our more adventurous years, my husband and I lived aboard a 35-foot sailboat in the Boston harbor. Being a “liveaboard” defined us — we lived and breathed the wonderful culture and if it weren’t for our jobs we would rarely have left the marina gates.
It started out as a joke from my husband’s co-worker, who proclaimed it’d be cheaper to live on a boat than pay for a studio apartment in Boston. We lived in Michigan and were moving to Boston for school and jobs. The price of rent was completely overwhelming to our midwestern standards. To us, the idea of living on a boat was completely brilliant and so we immediately began researching boats and marinas, we were determined to make it happen.
And happen, it did.
When we purchased Madrigal, she was in full renovation mode. We spent so much time sanding and varnishing the bulkheads that in the end we chose to not blemish our hard work with nail holes for unnecessary things, like a mirror. The beauty of our boat mattered more than seeing our own reflections.
I’ve never been a person to care enough about my outward appearance to learn any beauty routines that most women are very comfortable with. Makeup is mysterious and the extent of my hair care is a quick blow dry in the winter so it doesn’t freeze. Because of this, a quick glance in the mirror was all I ever needed, so I assumed that living without a mirror at all would be even simpler.
Living on a boat was a way of living a simpler life. We had to get rid of major amounts of stuff to be able to fit everything on board. Most liveaboards we knew had storage units, but we chose to make our life as barebones as possible. I don’t think we ever intended to go without a mirror so much as it never really crossed our minds that we even needed one.
Of course, I still had to care about my appearance. I worked a professional job and was expected to present myself as such. So how did I know I wasn’t leaving the house with disheveled hair? I did the next best thing and asked my husband to take photographs of me. He was sweet and always obliged, but not before commenting that I looked great and didn’t have to worry so much.
Looking through the photos he took, I realized that I trusted his initial judgment and decided I didn’t need the photographic evidence. Every so often I’d notice something out of place, but mostly I’d see myself for what I was — just fine. Nothing more, nothing less.
Even with occasional access to a mirror, my appearance was namely in the hands of my husband and over time it made me realize that it didn’t matter what I was wearing. The one person I wanted to impress was always telling me I looked perfect.
Prior to this life of no reflection I had little confidence in my appearance. Since I had never taken the time to learn how to do my hair or put on makeup, I shied away from asking what was to me the dreaded question of, “how do I look?” But here was this man who I loved so much telling me day in and day out that I looked just perfect.
Six years later we moved back to land — and back to Michigan — and we somehow acquired some mirrors. I don’t remember where, but I know they weren’t our own purchases. I still didn’t care if we owned one or not. On the occasion that I found myself pondering my hair or outfit, I quickly realized it just didn’t matter.
The years aboard have given me a confidence boost in the way I look at myself, and has deepened my understanding of how my husband views me. Now that we own a house I often skip the mirror and go straight for my husband, unabashedly asking, “how do I look?”More On