Diary of a POCF Chapter 1: The Goodbye

The Goodbye is Chapter one of The Diary of a Partner of a Commercial Fisherman, a limited series written in honor of POCFs preparing to send or have sent off their loved ones for the season. Through 5 stories over 9 weeks, I share my emotional journey of long-distance dating a fisherman in Bristol Bay, Alaska, including the uncertainty, frustration, & joys of a season apart. Inspired by Diary of a Sea Captain’s Wife, Tales of Santa Cruz Island by Margaret Eaton. Hope you enjoy.

Chapter 1: The Goodbye

I have a confession.

A few days after Chris and I got married, we slept in separate beds. And I know how that sounds, but the thing is, we kind of enjoyed it. We desperately needed rest due to our *major* house project that we (mainly Chris) have been working on in ninety-degree heat. We figured a night or two apart might do the trick. 

But while we renovate our 1912 Victorian bungalow – that hasn’t been touched since the last century – we are staying with my parents. And honestly, thank God! It’s been a dream to spend quality time with Mom, Dad, and Chris and come back to a clean house at the end of the day. Through days of sweaty work, this has kept us sane. 

There’s just one thing.

Although their guest room’s four-poster bed is quite beautiful, the fact that we both toss and turn like breaching whales makes for a very wobbly night. I wake him up, he wakes me, and the cycle continues. I may even snore a little.

That’s when the idea of sleeping apart came up. Exhausted yet intrigued, we wondered if it was weird. Then, we thought how weird it would be if we didn’t get good rest. The thought of dumb arguments because we are hangry or tired convinced us, and we agreed to two nights.

I hate to say it, but the first night was a dream! To sleep well, then walk down the hall to wake up Chris with kisses and cuddles seemed like we were on to something “progressive” that worked for us. 

Yet night two was different. Reaching across the bed to an empty pillow triggered that familiar longing I get when he leaves for Bristol Bay. It’s as if my heart grows heavy yet hollow simultaneously, and it just seems to float in the middle of the chest, detached. 

It dawned on me that in less than two weeks, he’ll be in Alaska, four thousand miles away. I lay awake asking, How many weekends do we have left? What do I need to do to help him pack? I need to make a list of all his favorite treats to send in a care package. How soon should I send it?

A calendar comes to mind, and I say a quick Thank You that Chris will only be gone for six weeks instead of the six months we’ve done before. My eyelids droop as I plan another Fourth of July without him.

The thing is, we’ve done “the dance” of a commercial fishing couple for over five years now, and you think I’d be used to it. But no matter if Chris is gone for one overnight fishing spiny lobster in California or gone months fishing sockeye in Alaska, each goodbye begins the same. 

One month till launch, you avoid thinking about it.  

Two weeks later, the heaviness creeps in.

It sometimes catches you off-guard when you’re driving with the windows down, blaring a favorite song, then the thought of him fishing in rough waters makes you quiet. You try not to overthink what could go wrong. And at least once a day, you tell him how much he’ll be missed.

To offset the blues, you think of the semi-bachelorette life that awaits when he’s gone. Like long writing sessions, cereal for dinner, and sleeping spread out like a starfish on the bed—the secret silver lining! But that will come later; you’re locked in the beginning stage now. The one that’s a slow drip, paved with uncertainty and worrying for his safety.

Now that there are just nine days until Chris takes off, I’m going to embrace our last nights in a wobbly four-poster bed. I’ll forget about the long, hot days and nights of minimal rest and instead burn into memory how it feels to fall asleep with his hand holding mine.

What part of this story do you most relate to? What comes up? We’d love to know; please share in the comments below!


Private Forum: If you want to connect further with others in our community, I’d love for you to join us in the private forum! The forum is a safe space for us to chat with POCFs all over the world to share our thoughts and feelings without judgment. If it feels aligned for you, here is a link to learn more

Featured image by: Yousef Alfuhigi

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Diary of a POCF Chapter 2: The Secret Life

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  1. The writing is what I relate to as a writer. I appreciate the similes used with the breaching of a whale and the starfish. As I read, I thought of how natural it is to pick up on the nuances naturally and without thought – just by living life in and around the fishing lifestyle. If I can sneak onto the pages and become a part of the story even like a fly on the wall, I am one step closer to the real experience and it is good writing for me. I am a Steinbeck fan when it comes to classics because he always put his readers right there beside his characters. That is the sort of writing I look for.

    • Wow. This may be the biggest compliment I’ve ever received, especially from a writer! And the fact that you mentioned Steinbeck…I think I need a moment.🙏🏽 ❤️ Thank you so much, Paula, for reading and taking the time to comment! My goal is to write as if we’re two BFFs catching up over brunch after a night out. I think my biggest challenge as a writer has been finding my voice on this blog. I was so used to writing for other publications (with their own styles and formats) that it became a challenge to write as “Megan” if that makes sense. Even my I Heart column in the Santa Barbara Sentinel is written under a pen name, Elizabeth Rose, and I’ve realized that even she writes differently than me! How funny it is.🤔
      Sometimes I fear that I’m “not doing it right,” but I think that’s the writer’s curse; always questioning, hardly satisfied. It’s amazing how we writers keep pushing through the muck to find that one true sentence that will buoy us again.
      Thank you SO MUCH for sharing your thoughts! I LOVE connecting with other writers because, unlike sitting around a table with a group of commercial fishermen, we speak the same language and it feels like home. WRITE ON! 🙏🏽✨

  2. Wow between your “experience” and the others comments it sucks that this doesn’t seem to get easier. It does seem though like you get “more efficient” with the tasks which gives you some sense of control. Two beds, what is old is new again, you are already like an old married couple and you’ve barely started, there is some pride in that! Enjoy the tired nights till he’s gone.

    • Right? So interesting to see that no matter how many years you send your fisherman off, the feelings, in the beginning, stay the same. And yes! I am down for the old married couple vibe. Sleep Number beds have saved many marriages, I’m sure! 🙂 We think of it like, we’re in it for the long haul, so we might as well be comfy on the ride. Thank you so much for your comment! I love hearing your perspective from someone outside the industry! xo

  3. I’m so glad I found you! I can definitely relate to just about this whole post. From the sudden realization 2 weeks away from my fiancé leaving, to trying to be excited about a semi bachelorette life for 3 months. Even sad about planning another 4th of July without him.

    It’s comforting to know that there are others that experience that same that I do. I don’t know anyone else that is with a commercial fisherman. As much as I can vent to friends and family. They will never truly understand.

    I can’t wait to read more!

    • Hey, Whitney! Thank you so much for reading and your comment! I just saw that you posted in our private FB group – so happy to have you! We will be here to console and cheer you on as you go along the emotional journey of another season. I agree; I had no family or friends who understand this life. But thanks to our strong community, we all have a place to hang! Thanks for being here. See you in the group and the chapter of Diary of a POCF, out June 27th!

  4. It’s so comforting knowing that others share the same pain watching their parnters leave for fishing. Even after eight years it’s still not easy! Can’t wait to keep reading 🙂

    • Becca! Thank you so much for your kind words! I was just telling Chris that I cried out of nowhere the other day, which hasn’t happened in years! After five seasons, you think I’d be used to it. Glad to know I’m not the only one! Thanks so much for reading and taking the time to comment. Have you joined our private FB group yet? Amazing group of other POCFs like us who have been/are going through all stages of commercial fishing life. We’d love to have you! https://www.facebook.com/groups/811316372640207