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  • Blue - songs are like tatoos,
    You know I’ve been to sea before,
    Crown and Anchor me, or let me sail away…

    Hey, Blue - there is a song for you,
    Ink on a pin - underneath the skin
    an empy space to fill in…

    Well, there’s so many sinking now,
    You gotta keep thinking we can make it through these waves;
    Acid, booze, and ass, needles, guns and grass, lotsa laughs…lotsa laughs...

    Everybody’s saying that hell’s the hippest way to go, well
    I don’t think so, but, I’m gonna take it look around it, though
    Blue - I love you...

    Hey, Blue – here is a shell for you,
    Inside you’ll hear a sigh - a foggy lullabye
    There is your song from me….

    -by Joni Mitchell, Blue
    When I finally made it back to the ship, I was lower than low. I had truly believed that I had fallen deeply in love with Susan. I had told the guys in the engineroom all about how I was going down to Cocoa Beach to seal the deal, and announce our engagement to her family. It was all I could talk about for weeks. I had bought a fancy, souped-up car that I thought would impress her, and I had thought of all the things I would say to her. Our letters to each other had been so full of beautiful words and feelings for each other. In the otherwise darkness of my days on that ship, it had grown to be a bright beacon of hope that I had kept my focus on and held close to my heart to steer me out of the blues. Now, back on the ship, those dreams crushed by reality, the blues had me all to themsleves.

    It was something we both wanted so badly, but in reality, it just wasn’t there. We were both just too fucked up to be able to love someone else. I honestly thought it was just me, but her older brother, with whom I’d become friends, kept reassuring me that she was a real mess, and they were trying to find some help for her. I thought that maybe her family was part of the problem. Maybe if it had just been me and her, we could have realized the romance that was there between us, somehow. She apparently had the same notion, for months later she would come all the way down to Florida from Connecticut by herself, looking for me, only to find that I had moved on from that ship to Nuclear Power School, and was no longer there. By then, we’d fallen out of touch, me so certain that I had really blown it, too deeply embarassed to even write her anymore.
  • Back on the ship, and back on restriction for being AWOL again, I fell deep into a dark depression. I remember playing Joni Mitchell’s “Blue” album over and over again in the ship’s library, where there was a stereo with headphones you could commandeer. If ever there was an album that was perfect for a moment, that album and that place I was in, were perfect for each other. I remember receiving a letter from my little sister right around that time that simply brought me to tears. She said that she knew I was going through a tough time, and just wanted me to know that she was thinking about me, and wished she could do more for me. It meant the world to me, her words, even though I was still feeling like I had let her down, as an older brother who was supposed to be looking out for her.

    By then, I was certain that, with all the trouble I had gotten into on that ship, I was never going to be allowed to go to Nuclear Power School. I’d already had 2 Captain’s Masts, disciplinary hearings which weren’t good things to have on your record, for my two instances of AWOL. Another time, I had threatened to go AWOL – I had told the Chief of my Engine Room that I was ready to just throw my Navy career in the shitcan, and stormed off the ship over some stupid thing or another, downed about 10 shots of tequila at the enlisted man’s bar on base, then wound up on the beach in Jacksonville, where I felt completely lost and alone. Just then, a band of beachcombing Nichiren Buddhists found me, and told me all I had to do was chant this mantra, and all would be well. They even gave me a card with the mantra on it – “Nam-myoho-renge-kyo”. I still have that card somewhere. It actually helped me. I went back to the ship, and dug in to try to make it work.
  • I was clearly having trouble with the booze, and my isolation on the ship had become nearly complete, when a fellow in my compartment reached out to me a hand of friendship. He told me how he had once had a bad drug problem, but had come to find peace through reading the bible. He shared some passages with me, and while they didn’t do much for me, his friendship was most welcome. For a couple weeks, he helped me deal with my depression, and was a real friend in need. He invited me to his bible group, he and about 3 or 4 other guys who would read passages from the bible and talk about them. It really wasn’t my cup of tea, and after a couple of weeks, I couldn’t handle anymore of their labeling of things as good and evil, and they were trying to get me to quit smoking and cursing and a bunch of other things that made no sense to me. I just wanted some friends, and they grew increasingly unbearable to me.

    A quiet guy in my engineroom who’d been somewhat friendly, asked if I’d like to go see a Joe Walsh and Marshall Tucker concert. I did. On the way, he turned me onto some window pane acid. I decided, early in the trip, that I was going to try to get close to God that night. I believed that I became one with God that night. After walking around the concert venue, convinced that I was melting, a very nice lady of God who was preaching outside the venue, helped me to refocus, and convinced me that I might not be melting, but just getting closer to God. I ran with that, and went in to enjoy the show. At one point, I was certain that I had mind-melded with Joe Walsh. I stared at him, and sent him my thoughts. He looked back at me, acknowledged my thoughts, shrugged his shoulders, and said, “So what?” – through mental telepathy, of course. Yeah, it was quite the trip.

    Back on the ship, the next morning, I was really out of it. I thought I had achieved nirvana the night before, but then had somehow blown it. The Jesus Freaks were done with me – I was fine with that. My buddy Louie was very cool, he was just glad I made it back to the ship, as I had split from him around the time I began to melt.

    Within days, Louie and I would almost melt, for real.
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