Choosing my own adventure

It feels strange to know exactly what you’d be doing and where you’d be had you chosen a different path. You don’t always have certainty like that when you think back on a choice you could have made. That’s the case for me today, though.

Photo by Jens Lelie via Unsplash

Today, March 6, I was originally scheduled to embark on Nautica for what would have been my second ship contract. Instead, I extended this one, and today is the day I finally leave my first ship contract. And I’m not coming back for a second one — not for the foreseeable future, anyway.

(I’ve decided to pursue a freelance career, the reasons for which will be detailed in a later post. I had an exact schedule of everywhere I’d go and everything I’d do for several months, and now instead I’m living this new lifestyle that is nothing but uncertainty.)

I don’t look at Sirena the same way as I did when I first embarked. I don’t look at myself the same way either. I’ve grown so much.

Way back then on August 10, I was a different person, and Sirena was just a ship. It was someplace new and foreign and full of strangers, and corridors that kept twisting and turning and confusing me.

Sometimes throughout the contract I would look at the ship while in port and see it as a cage or a prison. I felt chained to it, felt like it owned me.

Now when I look at Sirena, I see home. I know the ship inside and out, and I know it is full of people I love. The concept of “home” is one that intrigues me, since it’s so subjective. In fact, I would like to explore it in a future art project. The definition of “home” that applies the most in this case, though, is that home is where you can gaze into the windows from outside and know who is looking back, waiting for you to walk through the door and tell them all about your day.

I’m finally free from all responsibilities associated with that job, but that also means I’m separated from all the parts of that job that I loved with all my heart.

I think the ultimate superpower in life would be the sovereignty of getting to remove all the bad parts of an experience, and keep only the good parts. But I guess real life is about taking the sweet with the sour, and learning from it.

So now I’m onshore waiting for a taxi. There is no one else around, which is odd — the chaos that I’ve become accustomed to when the ship is in port is strangely missing now. It’s just me, and behind me my floating home, which I am now no longer welcome in. I will probably never see it again, never set foot there again. And now that I can do whatever I want with my time, I still feel somehow bound to this vessel. I want to stay as long as I can, to soak it all in.

The last few days I found myself running my hands over the rails and walls as I walked by, trying to take in every detail and texture. Maybe in a way I was trying to leave my mark on the ship just as it’s left an impression on me.

I keep turning around to see if the ship is still there, like a nervous child who is learning to ride without training wheels.

It’s really okay for me to leave and never come back this time? It feels so wrong that I won’t be having dinner with my friends in the mess tonight, just like always; that I won’t be walking those hotel corridors of red and blue carpet; that I won’t be sitting at the same desk looking out the same window yet always seeing something new.

There are a few chapters you go through in life that you realize redefine who you thought you were and what you thought you were capable of. Ship Life has been one such experience for me. This ship and these people have left an indelible mark on my heart and soul. This experience has transformed me as a person in ways which I’m not yet able to articulate. I will articulate it though; I am determined to detail and examine this experience which has been so formative in my life. And knowing that I’m never going to experience anything like this again in my life makes it that much sadder and also that much more special.

In a way, Sirena chewed me up and spat me back out. I feel so lost now, but in a good way. Once the ship is out of my sight, that chapter of my life will be officially closed. This new one that I’m writing … I have no idea how the story is gonna go. That’s exciting.

I’m not scared. I’m just so very sad that what has been such a wonderful chapter and has shaped me so much as a person, is now finally over and can never be rewritten. The pages of life keep turning, and they only go in one direction. All you can do is try to keep up.

So now, on to a new chapter. Let’s see what adventure these blank pages hold.

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