SEA Currents: Robert C. Seamans
At anchor, Kanton Island (Phoenix Islands Protected Area)
Ship’s Heading & Speed
Docked at Kanton Island
All sails harbor furled
Gorgeous sunny day with a smattering of quick showers to cool off
I do not get homesick.
I was raised to be independent. My younger brother and I were given every opportunity to flex our self-reliance. From very early ages, we were encouraged to follow our passions and seek out new experiences-no matter how far from home they took us. We didn't have to worry or fret; we were secure in the knowledge that our parents were at home, patiently waiting for us to return to them. Whether it was days away for summer camp, weeks away for travel, months away for school, I never struggled with wishing I was back at home. Imagining trading whatever adventure I was currently on for the humdrum of everyday life back home in Charlotte, North Carolina was near anathema to me.
But, tonight? Tonight, I look back on the last few days on Kanton Island-on the exotic things I've seen, the foreign things I've done-and all I can see is my family.
I saw my little brother. I saw him in the sweet faces of the I-Kiribati children, their endearing, gap-toothed smiles reminded me of how cute Cary was when he was little. I saw my brother while watching the siblings play together; a little teasing, a little joking, a little laughing, and a lot of love.
I saw my grandmother. I saw her in the mix-matched dice set strewn on a table in the ship; they reminded me of her indomitable skill at bunko. I saw my grandma in the old hymns hummed by an I-Kiribati grandma as she brushed her granddaughter's unruly hair. I saw my grandma in a little boy speaking both sides of an entire conversation to his dog; sassy Zipper back home demands that kind of attention, too.
I saw my mother. I saw her in the tiny, electric blue fish darting around the coral. I knew of all the fish that surrounded me in the water, those would be her favorite. I saw my mother in the hospitality of the I-Kiribati people. She was in the women cooking enough food for seventy WITH enough leftovers for all. She was in the I-Kiribati MC, orchestrating the food line and entertainment, ensuring all were fed and entertained. I saw my mother in the tide pools. The wells of vibrant life were reminiscent of so many other tide pools we've explored together, from the beaches of Florida and California to the coasts of France and Belize.
I saw my father. I saw him in a deserted control building. The colorful, tangled mass of twisted wires sprouting from a control board reminded me of his tales of when computers were dinosaurs the size of whole rooms and punched out cards on paper (!) instead of having screens. I saw my father in the grey, hirsute growth covering the bushes here; it looked so similar to his bristly, silver streaked beard. I saw my father in the hundreds of thousands of hermit crabs crawling all over the island. I could so easily picture him and I picking our favorite and holding crab races like we used to with sand fiddlers on the shores of North Carolina.
Despite being on the other side of the planet and having the adventure of a lifetime in an other-worldly environment unlike any I've ever experienced, I can see my family all around me. I miss them terribly, but yet I'm not homesick. Instead of wishing to trade the Phoenix Islands for Charlotte, I wish more than anything to have my family here with me, experiencing this voyage by my side.