Car ships

4 am, Benicia

I just woke up to the sound of two tugs and a bowthruster. When I was new here I used to wonder what that sound was – rumbling, rushing, clicking, I couldn’t figure out if it was something going on down in our engine room – until finally someone mentioned that they heard it too one night, and said it must have been the car ship docking nearby. It’s the sound of a huge propeller underwater a hundred yards away.

I get out of bed (hoping it’s at least a decent hour but no, it’s 0430) and climb up to the wheelhouse to look around; sure enough, there’s the Aegean Leader pulling alongside the Benicia dock with two AmNav tugs pushing on her at a ninety, their red deck lights glowing through the darkness. I head back down the stairs to fold my laundry and hit the head. I’m not sleepy but I’m exhausted, and my skull feels too small for my brain. I spent the afternoon yesterday needlegunning the bulwarks, a never-ending task that has me lying on my back twisting into awkward positions knocking rust off the undersides of frames.

When I work outside in the summer heat and I don’t drink enough water I get severely dehydrated. I don’t get enough water before going to bed either, and I have crazy dreams and wake up feeling like I got kicked in the head. Ten minutes ago I was sitting between Jennifer Lawrence and Natalie Portman in silk ball gowns at a cheap Tahoe wedding in what felt like a high school gymnasium.

So I down half my 40-oz water bottle, not caring that I’m going to have to go to the bathroom in half an hour. My cells are screaming for water. Back in bed, too hot under the covers and too cold with the covers off, I lie awake for two hours while random thoughts race through my head (I spent a good portion of this time trying to remember J-Law’s last name). I get up to pee (unfortunate result of earlier water-chugging) and once I’m back in bed I don’t realize I’m finally sleeping until I wake up from a dream in which I’m partying with strangers in what looks like locker-room showers at the edge of a forest (Tahoe again), and eating handfuls of cocaine while thinking a. I’m probably going to overdose from this and b. oh god I could get drug tested!! At least they say it leaves your system in a couple days. At which point I wake up with a jolt and take in my surroundings, breathing in a sigh of relief, exhaling an audible “THANK GOD”.

I’ve never gone near drugs for fear of losing my job so I can’t imagine why my brain would suddenly decide to go wild with cocaine in my sleep, but I think next time I eat dinner, I’ll wait a little longer before hopping in bed. And drink more water.

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