A week ago, on March 20, my only child set out on his longest and most challenging rite of passage. I can’t tell anyone where his ship is headed, or how long the vessel and crew will be in any one place. I only know that they are in good hands: One another’s, and the Creator’s.
I set out for San Diego, on the evening of March 18, having just had the bounty of a Baha’i study circle on working with adolescents. Young sailors aren’t middle-schoolers, though, like any other group of unattached people who are looking for answers, they do have their moments. I got as far as the small Colorado Desert city of Blythe, just over the river from Arizona, on that still, starry night. Relax Inn is a spare, but comfortable place, staffed by a shy Tamil man from south India and his exuberant, chatty wife, who seems to be more likely from the north of the subcontinent.
Blythe has a few more decent eateries than one might expect. Steaks and Cakes is near the motel, and serves up modest, but well-prepared breakfast fare. The waitresses are all lovely, which speaks well of the clean desert air.
I rolled into San Diego about 11:30 on March 19. As I was traveling longer that day, the Baha’i Fast, just about finished anyway, was suspended for me. So, I met Aram and a couple of his crewmates at his apartment, set my bag down by the couch where I would sleep that night, and three of us went over to Sushiya, in the Point Loma area. This was my third time there, and the same young lady who served us the last time was our waitress again. She was in a much better mood than last Easter, so the meal was likewise more pleasant.
Being the day before departure, the guys mostly wanted to kick back. We went over to the Nex (Navy Exchange) and everyone ,including me, picked up last-minute necessities. Mine was an eight-pack of shaving cartridges. The sailors stocked up on necessaries that would be more expensive in the ports to which they are headed first. We then had supper in the Nex Food Court.
Sleep came early, and so did the morning rise-and-shine of Departure Day. I drove the three sailors to their dock area, parked and joined everyone onboard ship, for a few hours. At 8 AM sharp, family and friends bid farewell to their men and women in uniform, and we stood vigil for about an hour, dockside, until the access ramps, guy ropes and tethers were lifted, the Base Commander and his entourage left ship and the vessel set sail- for Coronado, where there would be more prep for the long journey. From there, it was for the captain and crew to know, and for us to find out later, as to where they were headed.
Here is the view of San Diego, from Aram’s apartment (9th floor).
It’s a bit fuzzier at night.
Still, not much fazes my boy.
Here is the ship, as it was getting underway.
Then, it was off, across the Bay.
A journey of many thousands of miles had begun, with a single push. No parent has ever been prouder, and I know his mother is watching and helping.
NEXT UP: Revisiting Old Town and Balboa Park