By lex, on January 21st, 2006
Unless you’ve been to sea:
You’ve never heard the prolonged blast, and the 1MC call of “Underway. Shift colors,” and knew that it meant you wouldn’t be seeing those you love again for at least six months, if ever.
You’ve never stood on the very point of the bow of a destroyer in the Caribbean, where the sea is clearer than it has any right to be, with the rays of the aching sun slashing down through the water like spears from heaven and seen the sonar dome there thirty feet below the waterline as the cut line brusquely shoulders the waves aside.
You’ve never seen the flying fish playing in the bow wave, nor seen them leaping from the water as though electrified when the active sonar sings its questing, lilting song, asking of the submarine, “Are you there? Where are you?”
You’ve never opened your mouth the better to stop your ears while a Tomcat sat in tension on a waist cat in full blower, screaming to be released, and felt more than heard the sound of it vibrating your ribs, shaking your very organs and knowing that of all the things a man might be made for, this could certainly not be one of them.
You’ve never sat on a bollard right aft, on the helo deck, as a distant sun went down across an infinite sea, and just for a fleeting moment, grasped your part in the bigger picture.
You’ve never stood on the flight deck in a steaming sun and saluted a ship that went to the bottom sixty years ago, and saluted those she took down with her.
You’ve never seen how blue the ocean can be south of the line, on the way to Australia, and never felt the need to just get there.
You’ve never trembled with anticipation as the carrier neared the pier, the deployment done, and tried to find your own family, and hoped that it would be OK. You’ve never felt the shiver that came with that final blast on the ship’s whistle, “Moored. Shift colors.”
And I feel a bit sorry for you, for never having felt these things.