ONE. YEAR. LEFT.
Five years ago today, I left the safety and comfort of my ancestral home, boarding a plane from Newark Liberty to Chicago O'Hare, and then taking a bus to Recruit Training Command, Great Lakes to begin my Naval odyssey. Since then I've lived in Goose Creek, South Carolina; Saratoga Springs, New York; both Groton and New London, Connecticut; and Portsmouth, New Hampshire. Since reporting to the Submersible Death Trap in September 2005, I've visited Guam; Plymouth, England; Souda Bay, Crete, Greece; Gibraltar; Norfolk, Virginia; and both Mayport and Fort Lauderdale, Florida. I've learned to operate and maintain a nuclear reactor. I've accrued a trove of memories that run pretty much any spectrum you can think of. I've met so many new and different people, some of whom are good friends I'll stay close with long after I leave the boat.
And yet the first thought in my mind is that this'll be my last May 19 in the Seagoing Military Force. A year from now, I'll be pining for my Form DD 214, which signifies successful separation from the active-duty service. I'll be making the final preparations to commence the Post-Navy Roadtrip, which will consume the majority of next summer. I might be getting familiar with wherever I decide to work or go to school. But whatever I'm doing, I won't be doing it in the Navy.
I then turn to the here and now. As it happens, I'm getting underway today, but not on Memphis and her nuclear power. I type this from the lounge on Cross Sound Ferry's M/V Susan Anne, as she motors southbound out of the Thames River toward Orient Point, and my first visit to Long Island in over four months. The roughly seventy-two hours I'm spending there will be action-packed. Ryan has promised me an earth-shattering hamburger experience at Northport's Main Street Cafe; he's also told me that he wants to get wasted with me (him on wine, me on beer). That's an unusually strong statement from someone who railed against the evil of alcohol for many, many years. Tonight will likely be restrained, due in no small part to the fact that the Great Coolant Caper of 2008 is yet unresolved. As for the one remaining night? It very much remains to be seen.
The last thing I want to say in relation to the anniversary is that my screen capture skills were tight as the clock struck midnight, even though I was very much inebriated. Observe: