The Continuing Saga of Princess Rosebud and her Tugboat Man
Day 30…thirty days and thirty long nights since my tugboat man has been away.
He’s on the move–closer to land–and his cell works! He called last night. Other than the five minute satellite telephone call on our anniversary a couple weeks ago, this was the only time we’ve spoken. It was so unexpected. What a surprise to see his name pop up on my screen!
I always ask the same thing, “When are you coming home?” The answer this time was the answer he usually gives me; he doesn’t know, it could be now or in a month. “…you’ll be the first to know.” Dry humor.
The unpredictable life of a mariner
Some mariners have a regular schedule: three weeks on, three weeks off or two weeks on and two weeks off or even a month on and a month off. In the world of ocean-going tugs, there is no such certainty. One of my captain’s recent assignments was estimated to last two months and it dragged on for a full four months due to several factors–including weather related issues.
There’s always weather. Right now, the project he’s on has had a lot of weather delays. If there are storms, high winds, and high seas, it’s neither prudent nor safe for a tug to proceed, and that entails a wait or what they call “on standby” until it clears.
What do you think about that? Do you think that uncertainty is a relationship hardship?
Things weren’t always so idyllic for us.
Did you think it was?
Before we met (at the company where we both worked), the captain had plotted a career move to Hawaii. His goal; good surf and work, probably in that order. Our company was setting up operations in Hawaii and he was tapped to head up that division.
Guess what? A year later, he left. He did. He really did.
I do kinda still hate him for that sometimes…wouldn’t you?
I took him to the dock and had to say goodbye. I mean a real goodbye, maybe a forever goodbye; he had packed up all his belongings and they were on the boat with him.
It was horrible at the time and it makes me sad now thinking about how I felt that day…so alone and bereft.
Us–we–it didn’t end. Over the course of several months, we visited back and forth a half dozen times. I was unhappy with the whole situation–I had done my work, made my list, and he was IT. Hawaii’s awesome, don’t get me wrong, who doesn’t love paradise–but that wasn’t part of MY plan.
Oh yes, he was IT for me but I couldn’t figure out how to persuade him to move back and allow our relationship to blossom. I was running out of options.
What if he met someone else?
One day I had just had enough. I was sick and tired of having a sometimes he’s here, sometimes he’s not boyfriend. It wasn’t what I wanted. And do you know what I did?
I changed my telephone number.
That’s just the way I roll. My home number was a landline and I called the telephone company and changed it. I figured that when he called, he’d get the recorded voice saying, “The number has been disconnected and there is no forwarding number” and he’d become so distraught when he couldn’t reach me that it would be the catalyst he needed to come running back to me!
I didn’t have a cell phone. I had a beeper, a pager–remember those things? Now I think only drug dealers use them LOL. He had one, too.
I waited for him to beep me. I waited all day. I was DYING to know if he had TRIED to call. This was 1992-ish; email was in its infancy–I don’t believe we even had a home computer, and the computers at work didn’t have internet access.
This is the funny part.
I started power paging him; over and over again. I mean, like twenty times, thirty times.
WITH MY NEW NUMBER.
I went to so much trouble to change my phone number and I couldn’t wait twenty-four hours. When he called, I asked him if he had tried to call the old number and he said he had (still not sure of that) and asked why I did something crazy like that. I can’t remember my response–I WAS crazy at that point.
[The quick end to that story is that I flew to Hawaii the following weekend and from there we went to Kauai and he said that I had wasted my time changing my number because he had already come to the conclusion that he couldn't live without me and he didn't want to live without me and he proposed and came home for good two months later and we were married nine months after that.]
Fast forward to yesterday’s phone call.
After we said our initial hellos and all that, I asked him, ”Do you ever get worried that I”ll change the number again and you won’t be able to reach me? Like when you’ve been gone a really long time and I’m getting tired of it? Like NOW?”
Him: (Laughing) “Not really, or if you did, you’d just call me right away to give me the new number like you did before.”
Now he’s turned into a sometimes he’s here, sometimes he’s not HUSBAND. The difference is that he always comes home–to me. Oh, and his paychecks come here even when he’s not. Hee Hee.
It cracks me up when I hear “Somebody That I Used to Know“. Gotye sings, “No you didn’t have to stoop so low. Have your friends collect your records and then change your number“…