I mostly spent the trip home from Palmer Station in a comatose, drug-induced state- lying on my top bunk with eyes fixated on the passing icebergs. I worried when the last icy remnant of the Antarctic Peninsula would pass by my porthole. I am not entirely sure what my subconscious plans were; maybe I intended to jump from the Gould and grip these fingers into the ice, unwilling to move, unwilling to trade back the Southern Cross for the Big Dipper. Whatever the reason, wanting to fixate on the final fragment of ice caused a bit of overarching anxiety during the return trip. My nostalgic nature makes times like these painstakingly difficult- although I’m becoming more and more callous over the years (good or bad- or just the typical human ageing process?). Regardless, I don’t remember the last bit of ice. Despite my stubborn attempt to obtain a self-induced flashbulb memory of the devastating end of Antarctica-it probably passed while I was deep in a restless sleep.
An unforgettable night of continuous polar plunges, Seals and penguins on ice floes, a costumed goodbye plunge, clear and beautiful weather, a slow and appropriate crossing of Station E (where we worked in the field), passing through the Gerlache, and a visit to the little island of Copa to pick up a birder- I couldn’t have asked for a more all-inclusive Antarctic getaway (short of maybe a leopard seal shredding an adélie). Although endlessly thankful for my experiences, I am still stubbornly unsatisfied with this being the end of Antarctica for me.
If I were religious I would pray. Pray for the opportunity to find myself working in the future to protect this treasure of a continent; to appropriately thank this land, its wildlife, and nomadic people for all they have bestowed on me. I'm may not be religious but, I can sure be a persistent and passionate pain in the ass. That being said, Antarctica I will see you again. Till then, you can have half my heart.
Listening to: 'On Palestine'- JJ Grey & Mofro