The last 12 hours before leaving for sea totally suck. There are moments, even hours, that are wonderful, and all the sweeter for the awareness that they're 'last' moments for a little while.
But mostly, it's pretty rotten. Maybe, in this type of instance, I'm a 'glass half empty' sort of guy. Saying goodbye to my parents, brothers, sister, nieces, nephews, and then, ultimately, to my own family, is, strangely not the worst part. The most difficult thing is the lag between when thoughts are colored by the unhappy realization of the high cost of doing what I do, and the time when thoughts are influenced in a happier fashion by images of new horizons, of seeing friends from work, and of practicing the only thing in this world that I am actually professionally competent at doing... and of the sea, of course. Being there.
In the meanwhile, life goes on. My wife is at work, my boy at school, and I am running errands like crazy, last minute stuff to keep things simple, I pray, in the month ahead. Eventually we'll come together for dinner, homework, and bedtime, and my wife and I will talk all night, and not talk, as we always do. Eventually we doze off, and shortly after, maybe an hour, my alarm will go off, and I'll jump in the shower, dress and reheat leftovers. After that, it's a matter of one last kiss, a couple of sad sighs, and I'll be in my truck to race south, praying that the roads are clear so that I can get through New York traffic before the commute starts. A few hours later, and the drive is done, and either a van or a boat ride follows to bring me back to work.
Somewhere between planting my ass behind the wheel of my truck and hitting the Rhode Island border, I'll perk up. I won't be all that thrilled, but I won't be looking at the world through shit-colored glasses as I did the night before. Thoughts of the days ahead won't have a bitter tinge, and neither will the memories of the night before. The sting comes out with time. When I am past New York, I begin to whistle, even. The hard part is behind me. The next part is hard in its' own right, but doesn't taste like ashes in the mouth, and the feeling of dread passes. I liken it to being hit on the head repeatedly with a hammer; it just feels so GOOD when it stops.
But, in the meanwhile, I am getting ahead of myself. I need to get through one more long watch first.