We're packing up the car and driving from New York to New Orleans in a few hours. Hopefully on the road by 3AM to avoid the NYC traffic. Should be a packed five days with family and parties. I'm dragging Mellody reluctantly along.
This is my 11th Christmas since I enlisted in the U.S. Coast Guard when I was 17 years old. This will be the third or fourth one that I've spent home in that time; I can't remember. I'm used to it by now, but I always treasure it when I can make it down there.
I was born in New Orleans, but truth be told, I've spent so little time there (about 12 years total) compared to away, that I don't really know what I call home. The closest thing resembling any roots for me is here in NYC now, and over the years here, especially over this last one, I've come to accept it as my place of domicile. ...a busy, churning machine where my Republican vote is tossed into a dark void.
Anyway, filed under the personal blog section of this weblog, I just wanted to lock some of these memories in. A loving family is like a crisp spring in the desert. It rejuvenates, refreshes, and your sister probably caught you trying to swim naked in it. Hang on to the moments you get, and even if they're not frequent, try to make them regular.
In my first year in the Coast Guard, I was assigned to a 378' Patrol Boat out of San Francisco. I was living aboard the boat that year, and remember swirling in the Captains chair, high up on the bridge, overlooking the estuary between Oakland and Alameda, talking to my family on my first cell phone. It was Christmass 2000, and the sudden pang of wanting to hop into my car and drive home to see them took over me. Then the big-boy realization that I would have to subdue that, and carry on, forced natural emotion back in its cage.
It's been there ever since through a LOT of travel with the U.S. Coast Guard. I'm honored to have served such a great mission, but almost 12 years in now, I feel the dust settling around me. I look forward to this visit, and I also look forward to growing deeper roots in my home, NYC, this coming year too, while preparing my separation from enlisted service.
Merry Christmas, everyone! Enjoy your family.