You’d think by now there’d be a pattern to these departures. What, you’re headed to Antarctica again? Yeah. It’ll be my fourth time on the ship; a month-long resupply and retrograde transit transit of the Southern Ocean from Punta Arenas to McMurdo Station.
The mechanics of these trips are by now as familiar as the routine of making my bed: 1) pull the big pink duffle out of the garage, 2) pop up my "NBP Trip Checklist" 3) throw everything from (2) into (1) and, 4) get on the plane. But the sensation of the departure – that’s always been new each time, always different. I know that, once I see the ship, once I’m on board, it’ll all click, the way it always does. I’ll be that guy on the ship, doing that stuff I do, and writing about it for folks back home like it’s all some grand adventure. Which it is, of course. For now, though, I’m in transition, in more ways than one.
Those of you who cross paths with me in places other than on the blog know that I’m going into this deployment with a touch of ambivalence. There’s a lot of stuff going on, and a few months back, I’d even asked if there were an easy way to beg off this cruise. But the pool isn’t particularly large, and finding someone willing to step in on short notice to miss Christmas and New Years wasn’t going to happen. Way back when, I’d said I’d do it. I promised I’d do it, and they’re depending on me to do it. So I’m sucking it up and I’m doing it.
And as I said, once I get to the ship, I know it’s all going to click. It’s going to be great – I’m sailing with a great team, and our transit of the Amundsen and Bellinghausen Seas is going to take us places few people ever ever ever get to see. But for now, honestly, I’m feeling a bit fragile. The airport announcements are too harsh and garbled, the flashing advertisements on every wall too intrusive. Everyone is talking too loud, too much, too near.
When I woke up this morning, it was autumn; by the time I finished breakfast it had turned to winter. Somewhere tonight, not far from the Galapagos, we will touch the equator and flip inconsequentially into mid-summer. I’m hoping to be asleep by then, and hoping that by the time they wake me in Santiago, I too will have made that invisible transition.
I’ll keep you posted.