Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Boat World Begins

I came home from my EMT course and felt dizzy. Leavenworth had been a place of heavy snow and deep concentration. Seattle, in the full bloom of a warm, green spring, was more complicated. I studied, I unpacked and slept late and paid for coffee with change I found in handfuls around the house. I deeply missed that temporary world where all that existed was text books and fake trauma, broken up by Friday evenings at Icicle and quick runs down the frozen dirt road.

But I started climbing again, and took the dog to the beach, ate at good restaurants on weeknights, and sank back into normal life.

And I was grateful to be home but I wanted something. Some thing. I wanted momentum, to keep flinging ahead at the same pace I'd kept in Leavenworth. Up early, alert for every moment of class, aware that I was always one missed chapter, one poorly timed daydream away from not passing. I desperately wanted to keep every inch of my life as vital and necessary as they had been the past five weeks.  I wanted to work in medicine. 

Okay, I thought, while running my laps, or in the shower, or stuck in traffic, or walking the dog, or boiling water, or in the middle of the night, so I'll go to Haiti. As soon as I'm registered, I will book a trip to Haiti. 

And then what? In an expensive city where it's notoriously difficult to crack into the EMS world. Me with so little experience. Then what?
But it started to feel better as the days passed. I studied and passed and my certificate came in the mail with its official golden seal. I bought food for the house, started to function as a normal person again, and kept climbing.

Climbing. That was the answer. That was where my momentum lay. We started to plan big things for the summer. I'd go to Haiti for a week and then come home and get on big walls. Smith, Squamish, Red Rocks, Leavenworth. Liberty Crack. As each warm day gave way to the next, the idea of a summer of road trips and after work sunset trips to the exits started to appeal to me more and more.  I was begging for weekends off at the climbing gym. We were studying guidebooks, driving up Highway 2, jamming tape-gloved hands into cracks in Index three pitches up.  

And then, one soft Tuesday night, only a few days after I passed the NREMT, the phone rang.
And in thirty seconds, life tipped and all of those plans slid off the end table. I was offered a job, on a boat, working as a guide in the harbors and mountains around Juneau, Alaska.

I had not applied for the job. I'd spent a few good, hard nights in Ballard with Randall and a few of his friends from the adventure cruises in Alaska. We drank a lot of beer and played pool and I listened to the stories they told of the weird, magical, transient lives of Boat World.

Then one time, Randall sat down next to me at a bar called The Loft leaned his shoulder against mine and said, "They love you, Melina. My friends from boat world."

I think it was the next day that I was offered a last minute spot on a boat.

A few days after the phone call, I went down to Fisherman's terminal on a bright Friday morning and met with the captain of my ship.  We talked a little about guiding, storytelling, poetry. I said I just happened to be a registered MPIC- Medical Person In Charge for expeditions and sea vessels, would I be able to use those skills this summer? She assured me that  I would. Then she offered me the job. I took it.

My ship, the Safari Endeavor, is leaving the Harbor on May 27th and I'll be on it, in a berth below the water line with no windows and a stranger sleeping in the narrow bed next to me.

Just like that, I joined Boat World.

Sometimes I think this writing is magic. Just two posts ago, I wrote that I wanted my life to have ships and medicine. Now I have both.
my new home


matropolis said...

Congrats on the job, but does this mean no more Wilder Coast?

katie m said...

Holy Fantastic!!!!!!!!!!

Christina McKeown said...

You should come visit up in Anchorage! :D Alaska is AMAZING! You will love it!

fozz said...

dude...that's crazy.

Surely said...

Incredible! Congratulations!

What a great new adventure. Safe travels!

Surely said...

Wow, that's incredible! Congratulations on such a great adventure.

Safe travels

yohgrl23 said...

congrats lina! sounds like an adventure. if you ever make it into Valdez Sam works there for Pangea tours doing a bunch of tours and what not.

Cassandra said...

Unbelievable! Get those dreams, girl! :P