Monday, March 9, 2009

Alone With 5000 Other People

Have you ever been with thousands of other people but felt very alone at the same time? I am a loner by nature. I have no childhood friends that I grew up with (military brat). I have no brothers or sisters. I never know my grandmothers and only briefly my grandfathers. I spent a lot of my childhood alone and as a result I feel very comfortable when I am alone.

It is possible to feel alone and still be near others. I was on the USS Constellation, an aircraft carrier while in the navy. We were between Hawaii and Midway on our way north to the Bering Sea in November. I was standing in the starboard side catwalk as far forward as possible on the bow. We were in transit and not flying any planes that day. The sky was a dark gray with the gray clouds hanging low. Large rolling swells of almost black water seem to stretch endlessly to the horizon as we plowed north. Our ship was big by most standards with our flight deck 80 feet from the water line and almost 1100 feet in length. With each giant swell that we came across the ship would rise high up the front of the swell then crest and ride down the back side. As the ship rose the water fell away and it seemed almost as if we were airborne but as we started to slide down the back the water rose so quickly that it seemed as if we would surely go straight in. But then at the last moment with surface of the water only 10 to 20 feet away I could feel the deck heave upward again and the water was back to 80 feet or so. Up and down we went in the gray sea where you couldnt tell the horizon from the sky.

At that moment, on a ship with 5000 other people, and me on the very front of the bow I felt alone. The wind rushing through me, the salt spray bathing me in a fine mist, the deck rolling beneath my feet was a feeling that cant be imagined. There I was facing out into the distant vastness of the northern Pacific ocean feeling all alone and feeling very comfortable at the same time.

Sometimes I long for that type of day when there is nothing in front of me but the gray empty sea.

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