107.   Laundry became a priority 🧺

Two days out, prior to approaching California’s coastline, laundry of all things, became a priority.

Our washing facility certainly didn’t resemble a laundromat -size wise- by any means; it looked like the busiest time ever as we each took our turn.  Thankfully it all worked out and blood was not shed on that day. 😁 

Packing my belongings of course included all the acquired souvenirs. In Japan I had purchased an AKAI reel-to-reel stereo system (more on its important use later down the storied road) and a couple of half gallon bottles (1.75ltr) of Johnnie Walker.  I paid just about half the price for these than I would’ve paid in California.

Okay I know, that was then and this is now but oh, how we older folks love to say it anyway, “Remember when you could get a gallon of gas for approximately .35¢?  Or how about picking up a .23¢ loaf of bread and a mere .44¢ for a gallon of milk?” I know, it just sounds better now but if only you could take your current wallet to that place back in time, well …

If you’ve been with me through all this then you already know, most of us were employed through the Union and that meant this assignment was over once we disembarked at the port in Oakland.  

If anyone had intentions of joining another ship -or this one if available, a check-in/re-registration for reassignment was necessary.  That wasn’t me … and considering the way this assignment began?  I had to get my butt home as soon as possible! 

nO matter where I’ve gone in this world, the homecoming -to me- has always been sweeter than where I’d been. I was looking forward to being with my family once again. 

The final dinner I served to my officers.  I asked the Skipper while he was still seated as was the rest of the dining room, if my service in all this time had met their expectancy …his expectation most importantly. 

He said, “Fiji.  It was top-notch!  In fact we all would love to have you continue on with us.”  The room of Officers applauded along with the Captain. I noticed a figure at the door looking in -it was Phil with a big smile on his face, he gave me a thumbs up! and silently moved away.  I remember feeling quite satisfied.

With empty cargo holds, we near-completed our cross Pacific trip in about a week and a half.  A warm feeling washed through me as I observed our approach towards the Golden Gate.  Her lovely bridge provided great happiness; a reassurance, testimony if you will, that I had returned safely to my home in America.

I also knew that once my sea legs touched United States soil, I’d have to rent a car and drive to Los Angeles …to my wife and three children.  

We were all lined up, chatting excitedly while waiting our turn to collect final salaries and sign release papers.  The Union’s responsibility for our welfare was over once I signed my name on the dotted lines.  

My pockets were now loaded with cash – it’s how they always paid us and this morning, all accounts were fully settled.  Pockets full wasn’t something you wanted to make public knowledge (common sense, right?) as we were advised of those lurking about the shipyard with that knowledge. 

I definitely didn’t want to meet any of them!

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99. Afloat, Towed and Finally Docked 🇯🇵

Our vessel was being washed with salty waves of the Philippine Sea as she pushed herself through this part of the Pacific Ocean.  I wondered how much longer till we’d reach our designated Japanese port of Yokohama.

Relief from the turbulent storm as well as from the Skip, it couldn’t come soon enough.  Our Captain has been fed and even better was that I would have my breakfast and boy did I savor the feast I requested!  The Officer’s saloon was empty save for this little brown man eating alone in a sea of white table linens.  I had what looked like a mini-banquet laid out for at least 2 or 3 but it was all mine.

CS Phil walked in, saw me tucking-in and with a grin he addressed me, “I see you’re enjoying your breakfast?  We’ve got a lot to do this morning so eat well and report to me just as soon as you’re finished in here!”  He knew, as did the Captain, they could count on me to be present and attend to my duties.  

A moment here and there to myself, they allowed me.  Ha ha! I remember one time when I slipped onto the Captain’s chair on the Bridge.  Whaat?!  I went in there to ask him a question, he wasn’t in there.  I had turned to walk out when I realised I was looking at his vacant chair.  I so wanted to see what it felt like to sit in it!  As I observed the present crew, they all had their focus out on the sea.

No further thought and I was in the chair!  Oh it felt real nice!  Truth?  I felt like a little kid playing Captain of his own ship!  I dare not stay perched too long, wouldn’t want to get caught!  

I kept a little stereo in the saloon and when no one else was around, I listened mostly to my Indian music cassette tapes.  I can fondly recall Captain occasionally coming down to the saloon to grab a coffee or something and if my music was playing, I’d see him enter the room bopping and groovin’ to the music’s beat.  

The expression on his face was as if there wasn’t a care for him in all the world … at least in that moment.  I can’t tell you how much delight this brought me.  It would be one of those feel good moments amidst such situations I found myself in!

As our ship traveled her hindered pace through the ocean, it would be just after midnight of the second night/third morning, four mighty strong towboats came out to us from Japan, to bring us the rest of the way in.  

I found myself going outside at least 3 times to watch these little (but very powerful) boats hauling us to safety!  It was about a 20 hour tow into the Yokohama Port.  Thank goodness the seas cooperated for a mainly uneventful tow.

With the patched-up holes, the busted boilers and the somewhat shakey disposition of our well-being it was good to see some excited hubbub begin to surface among a lot of the crew. 🎼 “These Boots Are Made For Walking” was once again blaring out of the father & son cabin.  Cold beers and happy conversations were passed all around.  

I took to my cabin fairly early that evening.  Dan, my cabinmate was in and out, visiting with his friends.  I just relaxed and enjoyed the calming float on the sea.

We arrived at Yokohama Harbor late that night. 

The two tugboats which were to either side had left us and the two in front brought us near to our parking spot for however long we’d have to be there.

Our ship was braced and tied in to place during the night while we slept.  Physical examination begins under the flood of lights so bright, one would mistake for daylight.

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横浜港  The port is located at a latitude of 35.27–00°N and a longitude of 139.38–46°E

To shore up or …

imagedream my way out to sea?

Well, speaking for myself, always in regards of myself (save for when I’m voicing LBM’s stories but then, that’s really only a narrative of someone else’s experience anyway, isn’t it?), I’m choosing to leave the shore a lot more often.

And while for the most part it’s been instilled into a greater percentage of us that, our life’s practice must contain scores of set standards of generations past (ideals that are not so ideal anymore in these present times) well, I’ve come to notice that living someone else’s paradigm really isn’t always much fun.

‘Fun?’ one would ask me.  ‘Is that all life means to you, is to just have fun?  Sure fun is good but it can’t be all there is, all the time, don’t you know?!  You didn’t get the memo?  Have you not a proper, sober thought as to the direction of your future?  Are you just going to throw sensibility and caution straight out into the gale force winds..?’, shrugging my shoulders at the very thought of stuffy & boring … Seriously!?

Okay to be fair, I took quite a few things with as solemn an approach (well, mostly) as I was raised to do, while passing through the first half of my life in this world.  You know I’ve noticed as time goes by however, the seriousness of it all begins to fall away.  And again to be clear, it was mostly that way for me.

🤍 And thank goodness it has done exactly that for me.  It couldn’t have happened at a better time, this unencumbered ability to just be!  Someone asked me the other day, “How can you be like that, especially during this COVID-19 scenario?”  I’m not certain if I could really ever explain it, I just know it.  I also know that I do not have to explain it to anyone …. that my friends is liberating and feels really, really good!

Get this:  two days ago I accidentally dropped a hot water pot to the ground, at my feet.  It was three quarters full and had just come to a complete boil.  The pot was momentarily resting at a level just above my head.

You see, my brother’s house is currently kitchen-less during renovations and so that’s where the pot’s base was, atop the refrigerator as there’s really no space here in the hallway.  And I take full responsibility for the accident, I do.

Now as it made its way down, it bounced off a mid-level (about waist high) shelf, flipping itself on its side and that’s when it happened.  As it hit the shelf, the water burst out from the pot, it doused my entire left hand, to also include both sides down past my wrist, and then both of my legs (I was wearing shorts) as it hit the floor!

Shocked?  Oh yes, for sure! 🔥 It took a moment to realize I’d just been badly burned.  I picked up the pot and set it on a side table, quickly making my way to the bathroom faucet for a good drenching of cold water💦

There was very much a raging fire burning from within my hand which encouraged me to repeat over and over, ‘I’m fine, I’m good, I’m brave, it’s going to be all right,’ and over again some more.  I said this out loud because I wanted to be sure LOL my affirmations were being heard somewhere out in the universe!

I was also being very, very appreciative that my head or face wasn’t involved in this mishap.  I intentionally ignored my legs because the nerves of my hand were screaming a lot louder.

After a little bit, the cold water from the faucet was not cold enough so I had to get the pitcher of cold water out of the fridge and slowly trickle it onto my hand.  Emptying the pitcher, I had to return to the faucet but it did feel better than at the beginning.

This process went on for quite some time until I could finally pull myself away from the running water to attempt applying something soothing onto the surface of my hand.  CBD to the rescue!

It was an all day, all evening process; in and out of the running cold water and frozen washcloths but do you know, in all that pain, I was able to sleep most of the night through, waking only from the misplacement of my hand.

And do you know why?  Right from the beginning I reminded myself to absolutely not take this seriously, despite the intense pain and I’m not kidding!  While it’s true my legs received a lesser amount of 💦 splash, I didn’t attend to them at all.  I had felt the burn when it happened and for a short while after the fact but they managed themselves I suppose.

🌸 Today, the 3rd day, there’s redness only at the inside of my wrist and a little on the back of my hand.  I’m trusting that’ll be gone before long, perhaps even before my birthday next week ☺️ and pain?  Non-existent LOL save for when I knocked my hand up against something yesterday. ⚛️

I’m so appreciative that I was able to, in such a crisis, remind myself to not take it too seriously.  I’m not certain how my reaction will take hold in alternate circumstances but I have to say, I see this has been a very good direction for me and I’ll keep comfortably on this path.

Perhaps my story will awaken something in yourself … a positive application of self-trust, a bit more relaxed about life and a healthy dose of more fun!  Look, I know how severe this burn was, I see the manifestation of the near immediate healing and I also know how great I felt comforting myself 🌹with simple ease and pleasure of being light-hearted 💙💕💖

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