What I’m leaving behind
I seem to write some really good things while in transit, so here goes another attempt.
Right now I am on an Amtrak train headed into the heart of Sacramento, and out of what I can only describe as a burning crater of my life as I knew it in San Francisco.
((right now we are passing by an ex boyfriend’s house in West Oakland))
This year has been a really rough one. The end of 2013/beginning of 2014 saw me through some of the most heinous bullshit that I’ve ever experienced. Between being unceremoniously dumped, the violent death of a good friend, a bunch of medical drama with my family, and felling trapped in a somewhat unfulfilling office job that I’d convinced myself was a “dream job,” I was the most depressed that I can ever remember being.
((right now we are passing by an abandoned building I explored with a beau once))
I would go to work. I would go to social engagements to keep up appearances. And then I would go home and sit in my room in the dark with a bottle of whiskey.
((right now we are passing by the Albany Bulb, where we held Conor’s funeral))
And then a friend invited me to go on a chartered sail on a tall ship that happened to be in the area. I knew that I should, you know, go out and do *things*. So I did.
And because my brain is kind of broken, it attached itself to the idea of sailing on a ship for real. Like a cold broken man overboard trying to lash himself to a lifeboat. My brain hooked onto this idea and suddenly would not let it go. And then the captain told me about the program where anyone could come on for 2 weeks to volunteer and train as a deckhand.
I literally signed up via my phone in the car on the way back.
((right now we are zooming through Vallejo, passing by empty fields with signs that read “Dirt For Sale” stuck into them))
Now, I have completed my two weeks. I joined the crew of the Lady Washington for their transit from Washington state to Oakland CA. I don’t have any words for how incredible that voyage was. I knew that I would find challenge, and I did. I knew that I would find a new view of the ocean I thought I knew well, and I did. I knew I would be changed, and I was. I knew I would be exhausted, and oh God was I.
I didn’t know that I would find a beautiful community of people. I didn’t know that they would welcome me with open arms. And I never thought they’d invite me back.
That, as it turns out, is what happened.
When we came back under the Golden Gate Bridge, I thought that I would feel like I was coming home. But instead I just felt like I was drifting back towards a place where I didn’t belong anymore.
Now, I am on a train heading towards Sacramento to work on another ship in the Gray’s Harbor family, the Hawaiian Chieftain. And there are a lot of things that I’m leaving behind in San Francisco.
((right now we are passing under that great bridge outside of Vallejo that I can never remember the name of but has a great view of the C&H sugar factory))
I am leaving behind stability. I am leaving behind an amazing job working at an incredible bar for an incredibly talented and knowledgeable bartender. I am leaving behind friends. I am leaving behind lovers. I am leaving behind a long burning love that I don’t know how to put out, and if I’m honest with myself, a big part of the reason I’m leaving is so I can try and escape those flames. I am leaving behind something old. I am leaving behind something new. I am leaving behind a home. I’m leaving behind a city I love dearly but is irreparably and rapidly changing in the face of new money from a ballooning tech industry.
I am leaving behind everything I knew, with no real end point. I know my contract says that I’ll be the Chieftain until January, but what about after that?
I don’t know. And that is the most freeing thing I’ve felt in a long time.
What I do know is that for all the things I’m leaving behind, I’m getting something incredible in return. A new opportunity. An adventure. A purpose, and a challenge.
And I can’t wait.