The Submersible Death Trap has finally returned to the Armpit of New England. Many of its crew will proclaim that Memphis has finally come home, but that statement is open to debate. For more than a few of us, myself included, the Seacoast was home for the last ten months. The perception that we've been on something akin to an extended deployment is something I can't stand. It's been perpetuated by the top of the chain of command, and it further proves the Navy's bias against single Sailors, something I'll flesh out more at another time.
Before I assess the whole of my time in the Granite State, I'll first recount my final night as a resident there (last Friday night). That day was spent traveling to New London to finally sign for the New Nexus of Hate at Nutmeg Woods. While there, I was saddened by the sight of premium gas prices north of four dollars per gallon. I got my van unloaded quicker than expected, and by 7:00, I was back in New Hampshire. Just before I reahced my apartment, I asked myself a simple question: "it's your last night here - why aren't you going out tonight?" So after I reloaded the Minivan o' War, I rolled out to the Coat of Arms in downtown Portsmouth. While there, I got to talking with the dude next to me; he wasn't pleased with the Celtics' struggles against the Hawks. It turned out that he worked at the shipyard (on one of the other boats there), so we had something more than the basketball game to talk about. I noticed that none of my co-workers were present on this night; it occurred to me that either everyone was living it up elsewhere, or we're the most pussified boat in the entire Submarine Force. After the cool guy left, two pretty young women took up station to my left; one of them appeared to be single. Despite having nothing to lose, and some quantity of beer in me, I still couldn't make an opening. D'OH! After I got home, I ended up instant messaging for over an hour with some random guy who found my MySpace profile, and then I finally passed out.
The last ten and a half months have been a tale of two environments. One, the environment at work, was a significant dropoff from what I'd been used to. I've got no gripes about leaving the shipyard behind; no longer having to deal with its byzantine work processes and cumbersome procedures will be a welcome change. I also look forward to having my time valued more than in the past. Far too often has our crew been forced to simply wait around for a green light - be it to proceed with operations, or to leave work for the day. At least when we're underway, we can divert ourselves with movies, music, or literature in our down time.
Having said that about a certain island in a river on the Maine/New Hampshire border, I have nothing but praise for the rest of the region. I liked the people on the Seacoast much better than their counterparts in the AoNE. I thought they were nice; J. Raymond would disagree, but he's from California, so his opinion is skewed. I loved that everything was cheaper up there. Basically, everything I said last August remains just as true as it was then.
In short, if we could have "SUBASE Portsmouth" and "New London Naval Shipyard," I wouldn't complain. But things are what they are, and I'm ready to get on with the final year of my Naval service in Connecticut. So big up to the Seacoast - and especially to the City of Portsmouth, the Town of Durham, and the University of New Hampshire. It's guaranteed that I'll be back there again - on the closing weekend of the Post-Navy Roadtrip, if not before.