My Epitaph

If you don't question everything, you will know nothing and believe anything!

Monday, April 2, 2018

The most important song for me 20 years ago


It had been over two months since I had really been on the water, and before we were to begin our inaugural itinerary we were to have a 3-day pre-inaugural VIP cruise a week before taking on passengers.  I didn't need my sea legs when taking the ferry to Alcatraz: a journey I mentioned in a recent post, but just feeling the buoyancy of that ferry I had missed the feeling of my sea legs.  I didn't realize on the ferry to Alcatraz just how much I was going to have to earn my sea legs in the near future, however.

I believe 20 years ago today we were in the midst of that pre-inaugural VIP cruise, and I felt my best only after I had rang the chimes and announced the meal being served because then it was showtime and my own seasickness couldn't interfere with my work.  However, I definitely remember sitting at a table with, say, 4 entree forks, polishing those four forks, setting those in their proper placement and then going out the aft doors that that dining room had (the first ship I worked aboard that had passenger doors on both sides of the dining room instead of a staff only access aft of the dining rooms on both the Nantucket and Yorktown Clippers) and settling my seasickness by deep breaths of the salty air while staring at the horizon and singing to said horizon:

I'll sing my song to the wide-open spaces
(Looking out the windows of the dining room, you either saw water or sky as the ship listed in the ground swell)
I'll sing my heart out to the infinite sea
(Mind you I was singing to the widest open spaces I have ever seen: no land in sight on an infinite sea)
I'll sing my song to the sky high mountains
(Especially once land was spotted in daylight, like majestic Madeira and the Canary Islands rising from the sea)
I'll sing my song to the free, to the free, to the free
(True to all of life's great dichotomies, I joked about being a slave while working for Clipper, but I also experienced the greatest sense of freedom I have ever felt aboard, especially, the Clipper Adventurer),

after having sang my heart out to the infinite sea for however long it took, I would go back in and polish and set the next piece of silverware (while sitting down at said table).  Having set another piece of silver while sitting, I would get back up, go back out the aft doors, stare at the horizon, and repeat the chorus.

The hash I scored which I mentioned in my last post also seemed to greatly assist in the easing of the nausea, but I obviously couldn't smoke too much of it while I was supposed to be working, although I might today since I definitely think that the same anti-nausea properties which make cannabis a great medicine to assist with the nausea associated with chemotherapy (although I am a cancer survivor, I didn't require a single chemo nor radiation therapy, just the surgical removal of my tumor).  I suppose I might have had enough time to take a quick couple of hits on my way to announce the meal and that might have helped with keeping me from feeling seasick until the passengers had cleared the dining room: it was like I had a mask for service that never hinted at my being green with seasickness, but I don't remember specifically smoking hash before as much as I recall how just announcing a meal was like throwing a mental switch, putting on a mask that wouldn't let me get sick when I absolutely had to be working.

Another musical piece that I listened to almost everyday was disc 2 of the 1986 Valentine's Day Grateful Dead concert.  The songs that I listened to everyday as I was earning my sea legs aboard the Clipper Adventurer from this show were the Lost Sailor -> Saint of Circumstance.
(But we'll go with Bob solo acoustic, if you want to hear the version I had at sea, click the link to the Internet Archive above.)

I trust it would be obvious about why the lyrics to both Sailor/Saint were as meaningful to me 20 years ago today as The Who's "The Song is Over", especially in the context of using its chorus to make my seasickness pass before I actually had to vomit.

Although I was trying to re-earn my sea legs 20 years ago, in my heart, I felt "at home" and tried my damnedest to exclaim at some point in everyday: "Today is the greatest/best day of my life!"  Maybe I haven't tried drugs that really possess the power of addiction, but the habit I've tried my hardest to keep was to have as many days I proclaim to be the best of my life.  In that regards, 10 years ago, I was again living in one of the few places I have ever truly felt "at home" - in the motorhome I bought to piss away a meager settlement for having survived multiple spinal fractures.  In that home, when I still had gas money, my first decision of the day I was getting back on the road was whether or not I was going to scan my road atlas for the most interesting point of interest that would be within that day's drive, or whether I was just going to start driving until I saw a sign for a point of interest calling to me of that day.  I trust you can see why, although I had some of those best days in my life wandering in that motorhome, I would rather relive memories from the Clipper Adventurer than days where I had to rest for a day after driving for 4 hours (or a mountain pass).  

Just makes me realize I need to make this a year to compete with 10 and 20 years ago...
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