Location: Astoria, Oregon
Coordinates: 46° 11.424’ N 0123° 51.269’ W
My last blog, Boat Sweet Boat, found me having returned to Three@Sea after a Spring away, and looking forward to an exciting Summer. Well, it has indeed been a fabulous Summer, and as the school year commences, I write now with some reflection, and some big news for the future.
Before the news, allow me to quickly recap what’s happened since I last wrote. I left the boat in San Diego to attend my school’s prom and graduation. I then flew to London where I toured several universities, and spent a magnificent week getting lost in the streets of my favorite city on Earth. I saw some friends in L.A., flew to Washington, D.C., saw my first performance at the Kennedy Center, watched the vote on Immigration Reform from the Senate Gallery, spent a few days on The Hill, and then headed off to a three week Sea Camp on Catalina Island, back on the left coast. There, I received my Rescue Diver certification, sailed every moment I could, and made lifelong friends.
After Sea Camp, it was off to Michigan for a few days to visit Grandma and Grandpa, then back to California, where my best friend Costanza visited the boat, and we hosted a school meet-up with 60+ people (in a 43-foot space, no less!).
Next was my school’s Summer Session, where I made spectacular memories, reunited with old friends, found many new ones, and celebrated the wonderful community I am fortunate enough to be a part of. To wrap up the summer, we watched some America’s Cup sailing on San Francisco Bay before cruising out under the Golden Gate bridge, and up to Astoria, Oregon. It was on the passage to Astoria that things got interesting.
But before I get to that news, a little bit of background: For the past several months I have been in the process of applying to the United States Senate Page Program. If you are not familiar with the program, it is a semester-long opportunity for high school juniors to live and study in Washington, D.C. while working on the floor of the U.S. Senate as pages/messengers. It is a tremendously exciting program, allowing just 30 students per semester to be immersed in the workings of our government first hand, from idealogical debates on the Senate floor, to hallway politics. The program is highly competitive, and candidates must be sponsored by a standing U.S. Senator. Selected Pages leave home for five months, live in a dormitory, attend a rigorous school in the early morning hours, and spend their days (and often their nights) working on the Senate Floor. This program has been a dream of mine for many years, and starting in April I began a long application and interview process.
Being a boat girl creates some complications, such as not really having a specific state or Senator under which to apply. After the last five years of traveling along the coasts of our country, I decided to apply to several Senators as an out-of-state candidate. I flew to D.C. for a few interviews, and was really hoping to be appointed in the Fall semester. I received word in early August, however, that none of those opportunities had panned out. While disappointed, I remained undaunted, and decided that I would apply again in the Spring.
Until, that is, the early morning hours last Friday (as in only a week ago), when we were about fifteen miles offshore (where cell service is normally nonexistent), a call somehow managed to come through. It was from the Senate Majority Leader’s office, informing me that a slot for a Page had opened up for the Fall semester, and the appointment was mine if I was still interested. Honored and humbled, my answer was, “Absolutely!” Our cell service lasted only long enough for me to confirm my interest before we faded off the grid for the next four days. The timing, truly, was miraculous—had we not been able to answer the phone that Friday, it’s likely the slot would have been given away by the time we were back in range. But during that short call we learned that I would need to be in Washington, D.C. to begin the program by Sunday, September 8th (only a little over week from then), and there was much to do.
The problem is, there’s really very little one can do when the only way to communicate is via satellite phone, and you are twenty miles offshore, confined to a relatively small space. Now, I love Three@Sea, and I love cruising, but despite gorgeous weather, dolphins surfing our bow, and some spectacular bioluminescence on my late watch, our boat has never felt so small, nor our days out at sea so long. I had been working for this program for months, and when it finally all worked out, there was no one to tell! After sitting on this massive piece of news for four days, the second we hit anything resembling cell service on Monday I was on the phone, first to tell my friends the good news, and then to figure out the logistics: managing school, moving to Washington, D.C., uprooting plans for the Fall semester, filling out forms, going to doctor’s appointments, etc. All, of course, very exciting things to be working on.
It’s one week later, and I’m sitting on an airplane somewhere over South Dakota, writing this blog. It’s been a crazy week: one of nerves and anticipation; upheaval and changes of plan; excitement and chaos; saying goodbye to friends and school; leaving behind life as a cruiser kid for life as a working girl in the political world. Even though this is all temporary, it has still felt like a big move. However, I am beyond excited and truly honored to be able to participate in this program. It is genuinely a dream come true, and will be an experience that defines much of my future in choosing whether or not politics is something I want to pursue. As I stepped off Three@Sea for the next six months, I took one last breath of that perfect, salty ocean smell, and walked up the dock, ready to take on a new adventure.
As a consequence of the program, however, I will not be around much at all for the next six months. I will have extremely limited access to the internet (virtually nonexistent), no access to cellular phones, personal emails, or social media; and a busy schedule that begins early and ends late. My few vacations will be to Boulder, Colorado (instead of the boat) to see family and friends. Thus, this is me signing off for quite some time. I can’t wait to return to Three@Sea come Springtime, when we’ll begin heading up towards Alaska, and a Summer of cruising in new, beautiful territory. Until such time, I’ll be away, and I’m wishing you all truly spectacular Fall and Winter, a happy holidays, and all the love, joy, and laughter you could hope for.
This is Ayla, over and out.