This week started off with a mates seminar in Valdez, and I had a great time getting to know other chief mates and barge mates and hanging with some office folks. A lady was here from Jacksonville to help us out with some computer and payroll business, and I remembered her from the last deck officers seminar I attended there more than a year ago. It brought back some memories of how much fun I really did have towing barges to Puerto Rico; at the end of last hitch, with most of my confidence pretty much shot, I was sorely tempted to go back. But now I’m spoiled with wifi and exercise equipment and mountains and a ton of airline miles, so I think I’ll stay. 

It’s already off to a good start this spring. I was walking through Valdez on Tuesday night before crew up, and looked up to see green lights vibrating in the sky. Those lights never cease to fill me with wonder. It’s light until midnight now, with the darkest time around 2 in the morning. With some useful training at the seminar, I came back to the boat armed with more confidence and a clearer idea of how to go about establishing myself in my new position. I got a call the other night from a friend of mine on another boat here, just to chat, and I was startled to realize that I’ve been focusing on the negative interactions I’ve had lately and forgetting that there is a whole group of people in Valdez who have my back. It’s up to me to do my best, but I don’t have to feel so alone. 

The three and a half weeks I had at home were amazing; between safety training for work – where I got to know some of my favorite coworkers a little better while donning gumby suits and jumping into a pool – and Opening Day watching the races and boat parade at the Montlake cut and seeing old college friends in the very cooperative Seattle spring weather, I took some time to get away from the boat and remember what’s really important (i.e. being happy and grateful for the good things I have). 

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