I skipped a day.
I wrote a couple of emails, and responded to a few others, but I just didn’t have the heart to write anything last night. It was my last shift at the Vehicle Maintenance Facility, and I just felt hollow. I found every item that was asked of me by the mechanics. I swept the floor. I cleared out my cubby and my email account. I watched out the window for the golden sunset again, and felt the same amazing feelings I felt last time. I was absorbing as much of the atmosphere as I could knowing that this adventure is coming to an end. It was too difficult to think of how to say good bye to this place.
Deven Stross, my friend and coworker here at the VMF, shared with me many of the photos he had taken over his last 13 months at McMurdo. Penguins and seals of course, the Aurora Australis, cloud colorations, even a wedding that took place here last June…what an amazing collection. And videos that he makes himself out of the time lapse photos he has spent weeks editing to create minutes worth of humor that will split your side open. I will be his biggest fan, not because of what he has done as a photographer, but from what he has taught me about this job. His skill as a pickle operator and his enormous knowledge of the computer system we use here. He is truly a Renaissance man, capable of everything, and valuable at all things.
I spent the second half of this all too quiet shift downloading his photos into my collection, with his OK of course, and trying to think of the right way to say “Thank You”. There was no right way that held any value. Like on “The Big Bang Theory”, Dr. Sheldon Cooper tried to thank Penny for Leonard Nemoy’s autograph on a napkin; there just isn’t enough stuff you can give the person who helps you keep your job. And makes you look good at it too. I suppose I will just have to send as much business his way as I can, back in the real world. Although I sincerely doubt he will ever need help from me. His work is just amazing.
So…when I got off work, I went and ate dinner, and in the process of trying to readjust from night crew to day crew, I simply stayed awake, watching movies and reading magazines, until 10pm so that when I do finally fall asleep, I will wake up, adjusted, and on time to take my luggage over to the flight line for the return trip home. But here I sit, well after midnight, unable to sleep.
Antarctica is just infectious…it doesn’t want you to leave. And in some precious few ways, I don’t want to leave either. I don’t look forward to being Wollowitz saying “Look at what I have done!” I look forward to taking this confidence and wisdom and patience and fortitude home to share with those that I love. And with any luck at all they will say to me, “Look at what you have become.”