Saturday, January 12, 2013

The Pink One: A Love Story

We'd been at sea for four months, give or take a lifetime. The crew planned a midnight galley party on the night we were charted for Dixon Crossing, the rough expanse of open ocean that would take us into Canadian waters. It was The Big One.  We worked all evening to secure the vessel, plate by plate, glass by glass. We tied everything down and tucked away all the wine bottles. In the bridge, the radios squawked warnings of thirteen foot seas. 
The galley party was a costume party. One of the stewards drew up a poster on a piece of cardboard and tacked it up in crew quarters. Best costume gets a prize. A prize! The officers would be the judges and the captain herself would make the final decision.

Because we lived on our ship, the universe Endeavour, the very idea of costumes posed a serious challenge. We had only our stiff blue uniforms to wear, and very few other personal possessions besides that. Any new thing that wound up on the boat was coveted, it didn't matter what it was. Someone once sent me a package with a plastic drinking straw that looped around your eyes like glasses. The crew fought over it and by the end of dinner it was in three pieces.

All this to say: we wanted that prize.
So we docked in Ketchikan, Alaska, and raced into town to hunt for thrift stores until we realized we were in Ketchikan, Alaska and there were no thrift stores. Just overpriced kitch stores for tourists, and that's where I found her, forty dollars steep and pink-beautiful:
Much later that night, after the passengers were sleeping soundly and all the eggs put away, we crept into the galley and we danced. We danced a whole summer's worth of dancing, since this was the first party we'd had after four months of working 15 hour days and nights. We danced like sober sailors who were almost home.

Then we went into The Big One. The floor was rocking back and forth. The waves pounding against the steel bulkheads sounded as loud and hard as waves of splintered ice. We kept dancing. Some times we'd all go crashing against one wall, then slide across the floor and crash into the other wall.

Then the waves got very big indeed, and the ship lost an engine. The captain was on the radio and the engineers went scurrying from the galley to the bridge. We limped into Canadian waters at a pathetic 4 knots, and something was awry with our international papers. The captain and the mates had their hands full. The engineers were down below studying pages and pages of code in their party outfits.

There was no costume judging that night, and there were no prizes.

I felt mega-stiffed. Then the season ended, and the crew parted ways. And I was a lonely soul without them.

Some time later, after I'd lost my sea legs, my wingmen decided to throw a big party at their cabin in Montana. It was Sebby's birthday. The theme of the party was Peter Pan. "Lost boys. Eternal youth," said Ryan over the phone. "Have you any footy pajamas?"

This is when I knew the world was still looking after me.

I told him I was ready. I was ready for confetti. I dug up my Alaskan pink onesie drop seater, threw it in the passenger seat with the dog and we all three hit the road for Montana.

That's the story of how I found the Pink One. But it's not the end.


Anonymous said...

Oh my goodness, I know where this one is going....saw the pics on fb....can't wait....

you're a rock star, sister!!! more power to you and the pink!

Anonymous said...

"We'd been at sea for four months, give or take a lifetime." I so love this line!

Baby By The Sea said...

I love living through your tales, especially the ones at sea. Costume parties, yes. Rad. xoxo
We need to meet on the slopes. Somewhere crazy, like Badger or Meany Lodge..