Sunday, September 2, 2012

I'm still out here

It is my last day in Juneau. The weather is starting to turn, it's September, it's not summer anymore, and now when crew members leave the boat for vacation, they are not coming back. The season is ending- today marks beginning of our two week Southbound voyage back to Seattle. Back home.

But for now, home remains the Endeavour. Actually, to be more specific, home is the crew of the Endeavour. I could be on any vessel on the sea, at any port in the world, and as long as I was with this crew, I would be home.
It's cliche, it's terrible, it's a fucking travesty, truly, to be so sentimental, and I'm feeling the collective slap across the face from every writer out there who is worth their salt; but in this quick, crystalline moment- a coffee shop somewhere in Southeast Alaska with the wind blowing through the door and my ship pointed homewards- I don't care. This crew, we love each other, and there is no other way to put it.
This sentimentality is gutting my writing style, but it's worth it. It's worth it because I'm happy, and the ship is fun, and the work never stops, ever, but it's studded with these ice-pure moments where look after one another so naturally, so instinctively, it's as if there never was any other way.
Our final tour around Juneau was a fun one- sunshine, good natured Australians, whales breaching through Icy Straight, bears fishing in Iyukean inlet fifteen feet from my kayak, polar plunges off of the stern. One morning Conor and I went tidepooling at Port Houghton and found watermelon colored anemones and fat, red-spined sea cucumbers and enormous purple sea stars all undulating back and forth in the water. We had started the morning with espresso from the bar, adrenal pills from my stash and vitamin B-12 from one of the stewards and maybe it was just a little too much natural energy, we were laughing so hard we could barely talk, and we had all our guests laughing and marveling at the weird-ass mollusks and gorgeous, grotesque intertidal things, and we kept saying "we have to come down, we really need to come down a little-" but we just couldn't.  
After the beach, I got in a small boat with the second mate, Jordan Davis, and we took off looking for whales but we found none, just some screaming eagles and an osprey and a few porpoises. Merril had loaded our boat with Chai tea and the sky was so deeply blue, the day wonderfully warm, and Jordan and I kept everybody laughing and this buoyant mood kept going....and going.....and going. And it didn't end till all the guests walked up the gangplank in tears this morning, and Jordan left too, done for the season, and it was very difficult for me not to cry watching him go, because I've grown so deeply fond of him, and as much as I swoon for the whales and the sea stars and the wolves howling on the beach, there nothing compared to the Conor Adams and the Meril Clarkes and the Jordan Davis's of this world.
But hey, it's time to go now. At this morning's crew meeting, Captain Jill leaned back in her chair and said, "What the hell, let's take her back to Seattle."

We're going home, boys! Pull the anchor and all that. I won't be writing for another two weeks, probably, but I'll be thinking of you guys, all of you reading this- all of you who have sent mail, who've called, who are waiting back in Seattle, all of you who sailed with me and left the ship too soon. I'll be thinking of you all the time. In fifteen days we'll be sitting around a table at Fishermen's terminal  sharing a round. I can't wait.

But I haven't let boat world yet. Not yet.

I'm still out here.


SJJ said...

I told you, adrenal support = happiness.

Anonymous said...

miss the lina.