This is the second installment of Southwest Family Member Marco Melloni's reports from the USS Nimitz. His first report is here. It's just a few days until Valentine's Day, and Marco's post reminds us of those who can't be with their Valentine.The long goodbye.
It is currently late Thursday afternoon on the day of departure (January 24). For me, my day started at 4:00 a.m. Tuesday morning. I dragged through a full work day in preparation of pulling out to sea, and returned home to spend some time with my friends before leaving for four months. However, the one person I wanted to spend my last minutes with lives up in LA. Not only that but, due to school and work, she would be locked up until 10pm. Sadness, well not enough to deter me. Borrowing a car from a good friend (BiB I owe you my life, man.) I drove up to LA for a few hours. Not a very responsible thing with having to be back at the house by 4:00 a.m. in order to start getting ready for my next work day, but I think that, with as much of myself I'm about to give to the military, I deserve the right to spend my last few days as I want. Cuddled up with the girl of my dreams, I forged my will for the hard goodbye that was coming. Those last few moments mean a lot to me, and will hold me over for the next four months. And with that I returned home, prepared for work, and I went on with another long day of preparing to embark on a four-month tour. The rest of the day was filled with goodbyes, packing, and hauling all my belongings, which would keep me occupied during my time out to sea, onto the ship. This stretched out into the wee hours of the morning and right into liberty expiration.
With the rising of the sun, activity can be seen all over the ship. Preparations are being made to leave land behind. Crowds are gathered in the hangar bay either waving off loved ones, or making use of the last few minutes of cell phone reception. Under the watchful eyes of those we leave behind, we pull in our lines and slowly begin our slow trudge out to sea in our new home--a city of grey painted metal, inhabited by an average of 5,000 sailors creating a new community to live in until we reach home.
We have been on our way now for the better part of the day now--my third and final trip out into the Pacific Ocean before I leave the Navy at the end of this year. Unlike my previous two deployments, the reality of leaving my home, friends, and loved ones has yet to set in. I sit here within a hulk of metal feeling the gentle sways of the ship on open water, and do not feel like I am more than a car ride away. Perhaps it is my mind rejecting the loss that it is not yet ready to accept. Perhaps I am simply getting used to this duty that I have been given. In truth, though if asked about it I will deny, I am a little glad to be heading out. Not many people experience the adventure that we sailors go through. Yes it can be a trying time, but think about what we go through: A lifetime of new experiences clumped into such a short time. The anticipation of pulling into new and wondrous lands. Exploriong new places. Meeting new people. I can definitely say that port visits are the highlight of my time in the Navy, and I enjoy setting loose to explore locations that some people only read about in books. And that is what you will be hearing about most from me in the near future. Yes, I will be including information about our daily lives here on the ship, but it is the port visits that we look back on, and what I will be speaking of in my next blog. I can't say where it is we are going, but I am definitely looking forward to it. It is a place I have had much anticipation visiting, and I am sure that my next blog will be filled with many stories of the adventures I will have while there, along with several photos of my exploits.