Once again, it’s been forever. Since I worked in Tacoma in September, I’ve taken and passed license exams, flown to the Red Dog mine port site above the arctic circle and made the trip back to Seattle aboard the Sandra Foss, been issued a 1600-ton near coastal mates license, gone to meet my boyfriend’s parents for thanksgiving in Mesa, AZ, and driven home to California less than a week ago only to get a call two days later to fly back up to Seattle, get on a boat and tow a barge down to San Francisco. The forecast for the next week is looking grim, with storm after storm slated to hit the coast, and many of my friends have asked why the folks in the office even had us leave though they knew we’d be delayed by weather. I can’t answer for the company but it would seem short-sighted to say the least. I’m not inclined to complain since I am getting paid to sit here at anchor in Port Angeles, and there were doubts in my mind as to how much work I’d actually be able to snag this winter. So for that, I’m very grateful.
My only valid complaint amidst the happiness and bustle of the last few months is that I don’t seem to have any clear picture of what comes next. Daunting, chronic back pain clouds my thoughts and brings to mind imminent doctor visits and MRI bills. I have a longing to be in Seattle and cultivate a very happy relationship, but there is also pressure to go home to California and be near my family and best friend (I confess I’m partial to the Bay Area over Seattle anyway, cost of living notwithstanding), as well as an absolute commitment to myself and my career goals. I am distracted and depressive and on the verge of tears every day and I can’t seem to figure out why.
Believe me, I’m not the type who enjoys soaking in self-pity, so I’ve been looking for some reason for this pathetic melancholy and I think the best explanation is that because I’m such a goal-oriented person, now that I’ve gotten the license I spent two and a half years pursuing, my goals have changed but my mind hasn’t caught up with the change yet. Obviously, the next step is to work on upgrading my license from mate to master, and to that end any seatime is perfectly acceptable, so here I am going back to sea and there should be no room for confusion. Whether I stay on ocean tugs or not is another question.
My father tells me constantly to play my cards close but I can’t help myself, life is short and I don’t need to make any secret of my ambitions. I’d rather share my story. My greatest wish is to work in San Francisco Bay, and the sooner I get there the better. The confusion I’m feeling these days I can liken to phases I’ve experienced before, like every other human being: seventh grade, my sophomore year of college, and 2009 when I was at a dead end in every direction: work, love, and geography. These times are natural, they happen, and they mean something: drastic change is coming. I really think it’s time to move on.