And other important life lessons.
I'd really forgotten how nice it was to spend time with BJ and just talk with him. And laugh. And of all the people in my life right now, he is one of a few that I can say anything to, and feel comfortable doing so. And of all things, feel more stable afterwords. Funny, as we're both in unstable points in our lives right now. He's just that kind of friend.
(For those of you who haven't had the pleasure of knowing him, or working with him, BJ/Pip/Will is an old shipmate from the Connie
. In all honesty, much more than merely a crewmate, but I'm discovering that there's something about ships that bond people together, and after having spent a year with him hundreds of miles away, it's a bond that I'm stuck with :)Monday: Flying and Geekery
But back to my visit thus far. The morning was spent going slightly mad, with alarm clocks not going off, forgetting my pocketknife was in my carry-on, putting the knife in my suitcase, and checking it in.. And then watching the plane take off. Yes, I missed my 0735 flight. Soon finished the snacks I'd packed for the trip, and proceeded to read, then fall asleep for a few hours until my now 1205 flight. Let me just say that wooden-slatted benches drive marks into one's face. But after only having slept for less than three hours, it was comfortable enough.
At 1100, Red calls, apologizing for failing to take me to the airport, but bringing Ann, a college buddy of his that visited the past weekend to her flight, which strangely enough, is also my flight. Met up with them, exchanged hugs and phone numbers with the Maggi (also college buddy of Red's whom I met back in January, and have bonded quite well with). I came back to the security check with much fanfare from the security officers, who recognized me from my mishaps earlier in the day, and then cheered when I successfully boarded the plane. Hurrah for making friends with airplane security.. yeah.
Luckily, I was able to get ahold of BJ and inform him of the change, and he met me at the gate with many hugs. *squee* After the usual fun when the two of us try to find our way, we grabbed lunch at a little pub in Cambridge, then boarded a ferry to Thompson Island, home of Outward Bound dorms, and many, many vicious mosquitoes. He introduced me to various other Outward Bound sailors, and in an unprecedented event, made complete geeks of ourselves in front of Kate and Daniel when we started discussing the Boatswain's Call. Heh, everybody has their vices.
It was the evening that meant the most, however. Kate, a former crewmate of BJ's was visiting as well, and being a spiffy girl, and semi-new to sailing as well (she's got her feet wet; I'm still watching the waves), the three of us made dinner amid much laughter, and talked until nearly midnight. Considering they'd both been sleeping short hours the past couple weeks, it was relatively late, but BJ and I smeared on the bug repellent, and walked out to the shoreline. And just talked and laughed. I can't describe how much I needed that with him. Maybe because he's known me for much of the past couple years, maybe something else, maybe because we're both very much on the same path to.. something, we understand each other. Whatever it is, I'm very glad he's in my life. Tuesday: The "other" Connie and On Getting Lost
Tuesday morning after cowering under a layer of repellant and blankets, we awoke at 0600 to catch the 0700 ferry to the mainland (they cross the harbor at 0700, 1600, and 1900). I forgot that wonderful thing about being a sailor - free food - but after stopping at a diner on the dock, we rode the bus into town, and split up, I looking around town on my own, and Kate and BJ doing some errands.
First off, I thought Williamsburg's planning was off. Boston is insane! Literally a jumble of streets, curves, turns, and mishmashes that makes DC travel look attainable! After spending until noon following a tour on the Freedom Trail, checking out the Irish Potato Famine memorial (and photographing a wannabe model bum - pictures later), walking along the wharfs, and asking a half-dozen people for directions (as well as asked by two different people for directions), I made it to the USS Constitution
. I must admit she's a pretty ship. Ostentatious (albeit not nearly as the HMS Victory
appears), with quite a lot of brightwork, brass and otherwise. After putzing around in their building museum, then heading to the ship herself and asking questions of the sailors aboard, I joined on their scheduled tour below decks.
There are two major aspects between Constellation
that jumped out at me. One, our docents/crewmen are so much better, in many ways. In Baltimore, there is a major focus on accuracy of mid-nineteenth century shiplife (more on that later), whereas our white frock and trousered, sunglass and a plastic flat cap (should have been tarred..?) wearing docent showed little care in presenting life aboard ship. He was quiet, stumbled on some questions, and erred on the side of being one of the more dull docents I've ever watched. In all honesty, he made me all the more proud to have served on the Constellation
's crew, and not the "other" Connie
The latter difference was the vessel's vitality. On the Constellation
, the educators were the Crew, and acted as such. Attention was given to every detail of ship life, and there is a certain care for the ship, as Home, that comes from that, as well as when one has invested care and passion into the ship, she still breathes with life - not only from those that served before when she was a commissioned ship, but now as well. The ships at Jamestown have the possibility of having the same life, but I think that because less time is invested in the ships, and less focus that we are the new crew of the Susan Constant
, and Discovery
, they are merely shells, ready to be filled with life, but they have yet to be given the chance to breathe. And on the Constitution
, the oldest commissioned ship still afloat in the world, she is only a monument to what she once was. While I hope that there are those that care for and give her the respect she deserves, she is merely a reminder of past times. So much could and should be done to breathe life back into the old ship, but I don't see that happening the way she is now.
Regardless, she was a pleasure to see. Now to finish the last leg of the three-ship-tour, the HMS Ship-of-the-Line Victory
. One day.
I eventually met back up with Kate and BJ to see his old ship, the Roseway
, and we grabbed lunch at a little café nearby. Soon it was time to catch the ferry back to the Island, and to bid Kate goodbye. Interesting girl, and fun in the time I spent with her. That's the thing I'm discovering about the sailing community; everyone knows everyone. Like a small town, one makes a name for himself, and then a reputation is shared amongst the vessels, all over the coast. As much as I hate living in a small town and being unable to disappear, this concept appeals to me when it comes to tall ships. Wednesday and Thursday: Finding Home
Wednesday dawned early again, with a 0700 ferry and a 0517 internal clock, but rather than head to the mainland, we spent the morning searching out waiver papers so I could go out on one of the pulling boats with BJ and a fellow shipmate and her family. As time went on, however, the breeze disappeared completely, and when it finally picked up again, the rain and lightening came with it. So much for sailing, but I don't have any doubt that we soon will, this time together. In the evening, we were ferried back to the city to explore a little more, including seeing the exquisite city library (next time I visit, I plan to spend at least a few hours there), checking out the library's map exhibit, and talking an interesting fellow that "was waiting for us."
Thursday came too soon, and instead of trying again to sail, even with a 100% chance of rain, and foggy to boot, BJ was called into the mainland for an emergency errand, so we split up again, I to see the Godspeed sail into the harbor, and find myself soaked to the bone in the process with the morning rain. After we met up again for breakfast, we went to see the Longfellow Bridge (just watch Boondock Saints
for reference), and to the markets downtown for fresh fruits. (Cobbler tonight!) Sleeping a ridiculous small amount the past four days, and he only having just finished a 14-day expedition the day before I arrived, we'd exhausted ourselves, and failed miserably at staying awake. Soon enough, I had to head home, and we made our goodbyes.
As the plane floated over the islands and Boston Harbor, and the sails of smaller craft became tiny flecks against the blue-grey water, I felt I was leaving yet another piece of myself behind, but at the same time, felt still whole, and more so, more relaxed. I'm finding my way to Home. Finding that Home, while she is yes, a place to lay my head down, and have a hot meal, and feel at peace, Home is also those I surround myself with. BJ's part of home. As unstable as life has been, and is becoming, I'm feeling steadier on my feet.
I dozed off, and awoke to see the lights of Virginia's tidewater homes sparkling amid the trees. No, Virginia's not Home. But I don't feel anywhere near the cold misery of leaving Home that I felt last month after Baltimore.
I'm finding my path in life. Perhaps a small sail this autumn with something nearby. Then staying at Jamestown for their spring sail for the 400th anniversary, and through the summer. Then where? I want to sail. I want to explore, push myself, do things I've only read and daydreamed about. Prove myself, to me
. And amongst all of this, try to finish as many credits as possible - autumn through the summer, because at this point, I see my education as the one obstacle I cannot pass over. Where I'll be come summer 2008? Who knows? But at least I'm figuring a course of action, and if it took sarcastic Bostonians, a crazy map, killer mosquitoes, "calcium"-enriched water, and a tucked-away island, I think I can handle that. O, to sail to sea in a ship!
To leave this steady, unendurable land!
To leave the tiresome sameness of the streets, the sidewalks and the houses;
To leave you, O you solid motionless land, and entering a ship, To sail, and sail, and sail!
O to have my life henceforth a poem of new joys!
To dance, clap hands, exult, shout, skip, leap, roll on, float on,
To be a sailor of the world, bound for all ports,
A ship itself, (see indeed these sails I spread to the sun and air,)
A swift and swelling ship, full of rich words—full of joys.
- WhitmanMusic: No Doubt - 'World Go Round'EDIT:
A handful of Boston photos here
. I've decided I need a new digital camera. Mine's 3 years old now, and I'm not happy with the photos I took.
Life's changing again. So far, I've decided I'm applying to aid on the SSV Tole Mour
out of Long Beach, CA, C.A. Thayer
out of San Francisco, or the Schooner Virginia
out of Norfolk, or possibly somewhere else if that comes up. Leaning hard on the Tole Mour
, however, for she has a paid-with-room-and-board training and maintenance program this winter, and the Virginia
will not be open until the spring.
Need to overhaul the resume, again. Need to have some recommendation letters done. Need to speak to El Don and James at the ships for their input, then the supervisor, but that should be the easy part, because I'm only part-time, and the winter is slow on needing crew, anyhow. Need to find gear, if this all works out.
But it will. And if it does.. it's a big foot in the door.