A year ago today, twelve boats slipped lines at St. Katherine's Docks in London, went under Tower Bridge a couple times, then pointed downriver on the Thames, and headed away from their families and friends.
Well, families maybe, but not their friends in entirety. In the past year, some of the people on my boat, Garmin, and some of the people on the other boats, definitely grew to be the latter. Going in to the race, looking around at the crew, some of whom you might know from training, some of whom you might ave never met, I remember that was one of the thoughts in the back of my mind. Which of these people are going to piss me off? Which are going to become good friends? And how will we feel coming back into London in 11 months, the same people but how different?
A year ago I didn't know what we were in for. I didn't know who would make it and who would leave, who would be a part of the team and who would be a passenger, or what I would get out of the race. There's the worry that everyone's going to piss you off, cos being stuck in close quarters for extended periods of time with no privacy in stressful situations isn't the most conducive environment for getting on with everyone. But funnily enough, while we did piss each other off at times, it's exactly going through those situations that enables the friendship. Sometimes on the boat, you want nothing more than to get away from everyone, have a break, and now we've been back a month, well, I kinda miss the buggers.
I'm lucky in that the work that presented itself has kept me in the UK for a bit. I'll be in London in two weeks, and while they won't all be there, not by any stretch, I get to see some of my teammates. What will it be like now that we've gone our separate ways, moved on with our lives? Will we sit around and reminisce about the things that happened on the race, or trade stories about being back in civilian life, or just sit around awkwardly and have nothing to say to each other? I somehow doubt the last, look forward to the first, and think that the middle will probably highlight how different we all are, and how lucky we are to have had something bring us together from all backgrounds and walks of life, throw us into situations where we bonded as a team and accomplished some pretty incredible things.
The sad part about it is not everyone will be there. The people who live further afield, well, I reckon six weeks is a little too soon for any sort of extensive reunion. But as soon as the day after the race, there might have been talk between a few of us about getting together in a couple years, maybe around next race end or the following one's beginning, talk about that one time we all decided to spend an inordinate amount of time cold/wet/tired/hot/nervous/exhilarated/tense/shitting at an angle.....