Unlike the first port call in Japan, this port was pretty much the exact opposite. For starters, it was a working port for us, meaning that we worked full hours and didn’t have much time to do anything. Because of our schedule, I only managed some five hours off the boat. When I actually did have a free day, the most ill-planned storage load I’ve ever experienced took place. Basically, after some long times at sea, stocking up on food becomes critical. The whole boat pitches in to load everything at the expense of our liberty. So, we slammed down crate after crate of frozen things, eventually loading too much, and having to dump a bunch of stuff back on the pier. Everyone was worn out and frustrated, and it made getting time to talk to Carissa essentially impossible.
Getting bad news in port is also hard. I had been out to sea for so long that I’ve missed all the good, and bad, things that went on in my absence. The news isn’t important to this blog, but it weighed on me heavily. Being trapped without any communication, now wondering only the worst things over and over can be haunting. I imagine this is something similar to prison, where you reflect on things, over and over, in almost total isolation. Maybe a submarine is even more isolated than prison, however. I often feel like it’s a really great social experience. Take 150 dudes and cram them into a highest stress environment possible, with little sleep, and hardly any personal space, and no connection to the outside world, and put huge expectations on them, and then do this for a period of… one deployment. Wow, it’s even more strange when I typed it all out and reread it. Can you believe people do more than one of these — some people on board have done five! Although re-enlistment crosses my mind from time to time, not doing another deployment sounds nice too…
So, it finally came. I never really thought that it would, but it did. I always had figured that I’d get out of it, or that it wasn’t a real thing. It was hard to finally realize that I was gone.
So far we’ve been out only for a few days, but it already feels like a really, really long time. I have a hard time wrapping my head around some of the longer missions we’ll be doing. To be honest, I don’t even care what we’re doing. I’m more focused on my job and on my division. I just want to be done with my quals, and be good at what I do.
It was a little hectic when I was first standing underway ELT because I have only done most of my time on the boat in port. But, now it’s becoming more habitual and I’m working to make everything I do a routine. I can almost get all of my maintenance for the whole week done on Monday — if there’s not too much else going on. It’s hard to get a sense of time out to sea when there is no real time here, just work and sleep, in random times and at no real schedule. Apart from certain maintenance items, I almost have no clue what time or day it is.
So far we’ve only hit Yokosuka, Japan, but hopefully we go to more ports. I was really fascinated with Japan because the culture is that much different than our own. While Hawaii has a lot of Japanese, it was nothing like all the craziness I’ve seen in the last few days. When not on duty and stuck on the boat, I went to the “Honch”, an area outside the base that is full of bars — and shore patrol (the Navy police, basically). We managed to stay out of trouble, but the habusaki (snake wine) was pretty intense and instantly made me drunker than I could have imagined.
The other area we went was Tokyo, about 40 minutes by express train. The first day we went to Rappongi to see the “party district”. Unfortunately, nothing was open during the day and we kind of felt like it was a waste. The next day, we ended up in Akubari, the “nerd” district with strange porn stores and anime things everywhere.
I got a shirt with Japanese Kanji on it that apparently says, “I love big breasts”, and wore it around. The Japanese people all laughed as they saw it. I figure it’s a lot like Japanese tourists wearing a bunch of English sayings that don’t make any sense.
Girls dressed up like maids and had special cafes all over. We had to visit one just to see. It was full of nerdy Japanese guys, and us. I was drunkenly selected for a “birthday” celebration, where I got on stage and screamed things but had no clue what was going on. I’m not sure what the point of these cafes are, but it was definitely an experience.
Whenever I think about home, it hurts. Just mentioning my wife makes me all kinds of sad. She is truly the most special woman in the world to me and I love her so very, very much. I can’t even believe that I’ll miss Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas, AND her birthday and our anniversary. It’s pretty terrible to be alone for the holidays. I hope that she can have fun.
Hearing her crying voice on the phone is when it finally set in. I know now that I can never, ever leave her again. Except if I have a child and need the extra money, I can’t see myself re-enlisting — I never want to put her through this again.
By the time anyone reads this, we will be long since gone from Japan. Right now all I hear are the voices of loud sailors outside my rack. It’s not comforting, but it will become the only sound I hear for so long.
I miss Carissa and I miss my animal family. Carissa is letting Molly sleep in the bed — at least she has someone to keep her company.
I’ve been sad since we left Japan — it’s a hard place to be when every day is the same thing. It gives you time to think, and it’s terrible where a person’s mind can take you. I am praying on getting a sailor mail (the e-mail service used on submarines), but it can be extremely unlikely when we are out doing things.
I keep thinking that it’s just a few more weeks until I get to talk to Carissa, but I don’t really know. I keep hoping and praying to get home safely. This isn’t easy on anyone.