I’ve never considered myself a creature of habit, but when I’m at sea my life goes like clockwork, day after day. It feels practically choreographed down to the minute. I know I’ll get up at 10 or 11 am, eat lunch and then do whatever I have to do on my watch from noon to four; get off watch, then dinner around 5, followed by some kind of entertainment, like reading or a movie for an hour or two; I’ll walk the deck for half an hour around 6 or 7 (weather permitting), listening to music and watching the sun go down; and then it’s a shower and in bed by 8 for a nap, up at 2330 for the mid watch (one cup of coffee at midnight, the only one of the day for me), then in bed by 4 am for some actual sleep before I get up and do the exact same thing again. I floss my teeth and wash my face twice a day, never fail to take vitamins every afternoon, laundry will probably happen once a week. It’s nice to have such structure; god knows nothing else in my life is so predictable.
But when I get off the boat, forget it – the nice little routine goes straight out the window. It takes me a week just to stop waking up at 1 am and lying awake for three hours every night. Another week to get used to being around people again. And then at that point it’s time to go back to work anyway. Forget flossing and vitamins, I’m lucky if I even get through all my mail and take a shower every other day. Most often I sleep in, drag myself out of bed sometime before noon, overwhelmed with all that is left unaccomplished. Go out with my friends at night and wake up feeling like I’ve been kicked in the head (want a cheap date? take a sailor out for a beer). It’s life simplified, the routine perfected, at work, and chaos when I go home. Does this happen to anyone else? Maybe one day I’ll find a way to strike some sort of balance here. All the same, I have to admit it’s still pretty fun 🙂