I was asked to share this with everyone by BlackBoatNavArch – who joined the New England Lexicans on April 14th. He claims that there may have been alcohol involved in the crafting of what you read below. To that I say – drink on young man, drink on!
Back in the day, I used to blog at my own site, Webbies Down Under, as I completed my Masters of Marine Engineering in Australia. In my last post I pondered on what blogging had meant to me, and what I would do in the future. Well, here I am once again.
Last weekend, I took the trip from Southeast CT to Sturbridge, MA to meet with a group of people whom I had never met outside their comments on Lex’s blog. They didn’t know me, didn’t even know that I knew of them. As I drove up I wondered what the day would bring. I was pretty sure that I’d be the youngest Lexican at the meet up and I wondered what it would be like. What would the community think of a 25 year old Naval Architect? I knew from reading the comments admonishing lurkers for keeping quiet all these years that it would probably be ok. But still, as a fairly reserved engineer, I had to wonder.
When I first arrived, I sat in my car, reading one of my favorite post’s from Lex, The Speech He Ought To Give. I had shared it with my family and friends on my own blog and it was really the post that stuck out to me most. I don’t remember when I got to Lex. But as I entered the pub, and met Kris and The Oracle, all my worries were cast aside. I started with the thing I am most comfortable with, my school and what I do. As a college student, I went to one of the most unique institutions in America, Webb Institute of Naval Architecture. And as I met more and more of the Lexicans that day, it made more and more sense to me to relate it to my school.
Webb is small. There are about 1000 living alumni. And whenever there is an alumni event, I feel the same as I did going to the New England meeting that day. Will I be the youngest? Will my stories be of interest? Is what I love about my school still the same as what they loved? Inevitably it is. We all share the same stories, the same triumphs, the same despairs. We all share a bond that is not broken by time. Kris apologized for all her questions but I assured her, my school and my job were my most treasured gifts, and I could talk about them without pause. When a community endows your education, you should rightfully be prepared to speak of their memory at length.
So the same happened that day as the Lexicans of New England met. We all shared a simple bond. We all, in some way or another found Lex and the community he built. It didn’t matter how much each member commented day to day, or how applicable their experiences were. I met engineers, gamers, fishers, the outspoken, and the lurkers. Many probably had similar persuasions that weren’t explicitly brought up. I’m sure there would have been well reasoned disagreements as well. I was indeed the youngest, and I will say it relieved Kris to know that I could order my own Guinness for a toast (for strength!). I listened to the group more than spoke, but that was the same at Lex’s page. When you are young, it is often better to take it in at first, to learn what you can, there will be a next time to tell your own story. But in between our toasts of Guinness, we spoke of Lex at length. Of his life and memory. The things he cared most about. I was happy to report that the next 5 Virginia Class boats had all received proper names. There was a bias towards F-14′s present in the room but I did let slip that there are more planes in the ocean than submarines in the air.
I don’t know how many other young Lexicans there are. But I will say this to those that are out there. Take the chance to meet the others who happen to be in your area. Lex built a wonderful community around him, and if you are still reading after all these years (or perhaps not even that many) knowing them in person and sharing a toast will be that much better. As the week went by since I met the New England Chapter of Lex, I found myself saying more about the blogger that I had followed each day for years than I ever had before. I hadn’t told anyone where I was going that day, but I found joy in telling them where I had been. Because our officer and gentleman had brought together through his daily writings a community that should be shared for all.
There will be more opportunities for BlackBoatNavArch to speak up. The New England Lexicans will meet again – count on it!