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Lady Love.

Oh.
I have so much to tell.
So many emotions that I need to put to paper before they burst inside me and I disappear in a flurry of luggage and goodbyes.

oh gee.

March seventeenth came and went. And with it, a flight and six days in Oakland, California, on what I've come to realize and finally accept as Home, onboard Lady Washington. Even with all the trials and doubts and fears and anger she has brought me over the years since first stepping upon her decks in October nearly three years ago, she has changed my life. Brought me family and friends of a sort I've experienced rarely.

But enough of that.

With an overnight the evening before, and an 0445 wake-up to go with it, my ninety-minute flight found me falling asleep in my St. Patrick's beer, courtesy of the holiday and Southwest Airlines (note to self: St Patrick's and Valentine's translates to free booze). A quick hike down the street, and there they were, just as I had left them sitting at Jack London Square's dock 385 days ago. Hugs, hose fights, and salt-spiked coffee brought me back to reality and the warmth and smells of the main hold of Lady.

Tiny, Pony, Chad, Beau and I trotted off across the bridge to San Francisco to make mischief, and found that strangely enough, the bars closed by 2300, so Tiny and I were left feeling quite sober, but we had our fun watching a very drunk white-collar man (who was at one point I'm sure, dressed in a suit) challenge the Tiny one to shots of whiskey and downing beer... and then watch him down the ketchup and other condiments sitting at the pub, which also happened to have the most disgusting bathrooms I've ever seen... Why did I always look forward to celebrating St Patrick's legally?

Wednesday we sailed, a nice sweet day to feel the rig again and familiarity. Cookface, Miah and Kent came by, current crew of the Bill of Rights, now owned by the most insane captain I've ever worked with, so we managed a night out on the town, to Heinold's First and Last Chance Saloon and the ever-classy Merchant's.

Thursday I became a Professional Tarbaby (if you have an issue with my resume title, wiki it. Term is not racist.), painting the deck with a handful of crew, with thick coats of pine tar and Penetrol, darkening my beloved Lady into the queen of the bay. Nothing, nothing smells better than pine tar. Unless it's fresh cedar, pipe tobacco, and sauteeing butter. And so, still tar-speckled with brown feet and black toenails, we enjoyed the spring sunshine in the hotel's pool, then warmed up in the sauna. (How many tallship sailors can you fit in a sauna?)

Friday more education sails, the deck stick-stick-sticky with tar.

The weekend came too quickly, sailing the brig on the bay, set to a soundtrack of chanteys sung by Sparky and Tiny. And drowsy with happiness, came my favorite evening. The first day of spring, celebrated with gin and tonics (my traditional first day of summer drink). Out came the sweet music of Frank and Ella, swooning into dancing with the girls of the Lady and some of my most beloved crewmates.

Monday brought another sail, and packing my bags, I headed for home. Appropriately finished my flight in a cloud of clove-smelling smoke, and fell asleep in a pile of brig-smelling wool blankets on the Star of India.

It was easily one of the monumentally life-changing weeks. A week I can place with the trip to Boston (that eventually led to applying for Lady Washington in the first place), the week before I left Home to sail, the Great Chesapeake Bay Schooner Race Week, the trip to Richmond, Virginia... all these full moments in my life when I knew I was, for one instant, at the exact place I was supposed to be, and everything in the universe was perfect.

And dammit, I think of her and her crew and those moments every night before I sleep, and when I wake up. She's impressed herself onto my dreams.

I'll find myself in her rig again soon. If just for a few more days, I'll enjoy another salt-sweetened cup of coffee with some of the Best of the West.

"I would rather be ashes than dust! I would rather that my spark should burn out in a brilliant blaze than it should be stifled by dry-rot.
I would rather be a superb meteor, every atom of me in magnificent glow, than a sleepy and permanent planet.
The function of man is to live, not to exist. I shall not waste my days trying to prolong them. I shall use my time."

- Jack London

Photos!!