Tuesday 9 June 2014
Sam is about to finish her first year of classes here in California. She is looking forward to the adventure that will be summer. Six of us, counting myself, the head wrangler, will be bebopping around the countryside. The ol’ Conestoga Wagon will be full up. Figure our first trip will be to San Diego, for a visit to the mother ship, USS Midway. I do a pretty good show and tell there. Might even demonstrate how I walked off the bow, dead of night, hundreds of miles from nearest land, while cruising the Indian Ocean. If the safety net had not held me, I would have hit the water like Fats Domino falling through a sky light. Nobody would have missed Ol’ Sigurd till light of day. By then, I would have been fish food.
It is the nights aboard her I remember best. Tropical nights, with stars close—bright—a rising crescent moon— and scintillations sparkling in the black water around us—scattered flashes of light brought by the ship’s disturbance of a thousand million single celled critters, flashes that are repeated in the far distance as sky lightning rides the gentle curve of an invisible horizon. And the power and beauty of the ship itself—her impossible bulk and size as she swam through the water with stunning agility in the same surprising way a fat man sometimes moves with the unexpected grace of a dancer. Her massive power during the heavy seas of Pacific storms that drove her bow under a thousand tons of water only to rear up like the mare she was and meet the next massive swell—her whole being shimmying and quivering as though sexually excited—a petulant bitch with a dangerous nature that bore constant watching—hard not to love—but never forget her true nature.
That was my life for more than two decades. A hard scrabble life. A sometimes painful life I loved with all my heart and soul. Would I could, I would return in an instant. No second thoughts. None. These are the feelings that will tug at me when I walk her decks again, surrounded by the love of my big noisy family. Tears may flow. They have in past visits to her. Special things happened there for me and for others. Things only known to ourselves. Things impossible to explain. I am part of this steel sculpture. USS Midway is indelibly inscribed within me.
To read more letters, click on The Path!