|Don't leave meeeeeeee!|
The night was my last working for Tropic Isle Aquarium, my savior job since moving home, and it was a little frantic - like every work day. So it did not surprise me that, given my choices to fight the American norm by going car-less, I found myself farcically running an improperly-attired 1.9 mile gauntlet to the Framingham station to catch the P535 in 14 minutes. A little over two weeks ago, I informed the owner that I had gotten the rare opportunity to return to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for a research cruise. Dr. Michael Berumen, director of the Red Sea Research Center's Coral Reef Ecology Lab, where I had studied for my Master's, has known of my sea slug passions since the show I put on there last year, celebrating little sea creature diversity. As a mentor, he would like me to consider continuing my studies in this field; and I have certainly thought of it. Indeed, I have found no stronger peace of mind and soul than exploring the reefs of the world, and I have been actively applying to career jobs that give me the chance to return.
|The Lybia crab carries anemones for defense!|
You may have noticed I have not written much on this blog since I began the 40-hour week at the aquarium. While I am incredibly grateful to the job that allowed me daily interaction with ornate and ecologically fine-tuned Pom-Pom Crabs (Lybia spp.), flighty Palette Surgeonfish (Paracanthurus hepatus), and the always inquisitive Rockmover Wrasse (Novaculichthys taeniourus), it was mere life-support to the nature lover's soul. A business is not academia; as I often told people, we ran a zoo that we sold animals out of. I worked there because I wanted to learn more about the aquarium trade, for a story I have longed to tell so strongly that its become a personal mythological Siren, driving my life onto sharp rocks.
|The Oxynoe sp. 4 I collected off Jeddah|
When I retun, I will be left with choices once more on where to go next. Ah, the sweet anxiety; what is it I need? Richie, my taxi driver last night, called it "permission to leave," and was of the opinion that it is very hard to give it to yourself. He's a fellow American who has lived in Chile, driven from Boston to Tierra Del Fuego, and written for literary magazines, and he wanted to share with me three things after hearing about my imminent journey(s)... The first, to protect your spirit; the second, to not be afraid; and the third, to know that there is no ceiling in life. The $65 ride, paid after missing the $3.50 train, may have been fate's way of relaxing me before tomorrow's flight back to the land of Ibn Saud, to the still mysterious Red Sea, to search for the slugs of yesteryear and tomorrow, and other dream-creatures yet to be known...... I hear them calling as I sit in my parent's home, bags of scuba gear, photographic equipment, and a few articles of clothing piled up by the door, waiting for the airport limo to sweep me off my feet.