We’ve been pretty busy, which is probably why the time seems to have flown. Then again, my friend Fred says that time flies whether you’re having fun or not. So, to catch up…I already told you about Thanksgiving…then Jason did his blog…what happened after that…..hmmm…..
Well, Saturday I was invited to the Captain’s Dinner: all of the faculty and staff are invited once a sailing to dine with the Captain and his officers, and it was my turn. The food was delicious – prosciutto and melon, cream of spinach soup, Caesar salad, sole with a mushroom cream sauce, and strawberries Romanoff – yum yum. Oh, and good wine and coffee – it was a nice evening. We dressed in our finest and tried to remember which fork was the salad fork, after eating in a cafeteria the last few months. I sat next to Mario, who has taken Chief Neil’s place on the ship as Chief Engineer. Mario is from Sorrento, and was an amusing dinner companion. I loved listening to his Italian accent and his stories of his family back home, and the old house he’s renovating.
Monday was the Ambassadors’ Ball, a semi-formal dinner dance put on by the students for the shipboard community. The best thing about the evening was seeing the students all dressed up. Many of them had clothes made in Vietnam specifically for the ball – sharp silk and linen suits for the men, and slinky shimmery skin-tight dresses for the women. They all looked gorgeous – I had a silly grin on my face all evening, watching them have fun. The ball is the highlight of the voyage, and I think everyone had a good time. There was dancing after dinner, but I walked into the Union and right back out again: too many bodies, too hot, too noisy, too crowded. I went up to the Lounge instead and visited for a while, then headed to bed. Many of the students compared it to a high school prom; one said it was the best evening of her life. Guess she’s had a pretty short life…but it was fun.
We’ve pushed the clocks forward four times in the last six days, and it’s starting to show. That, combined with rough seas, has put us all under the weather. I didn’t know before this trip that one of the effects of seasickness is being sleepy; maybe the body’s way of protecting itself. Feel sick? Just go to sleep. Add that to four 23-hour days, and it’s a recipe for – napping. Well, for everyone who doesn’t have an 8-5 job, that is. With classes winding down, the decks are pretty quiet: students are studying, writing their last papers, and starting to think about going home. When they’re not sleeping, that is!
I noticed at the auction last week that we seem to have finally settled into a cohesive unit, something akin to a family – a really big family. It’s hard to explain. Jeff and I discussed it this evening: it’s as if we’ve finally gotten comfortable. We’ve relaxed enough to be who we really are, and not worry about the impression others might have of us. We know time is short, and we most likely won’t be meeting any new people or getting to know our friends any better than we already do, so the pressure is off. We’re focusing on the future rather than on today, so we’re not as stressed – or if we are, it’s in a different way. I know I’ve relaxed to where I can just be myself, and not worry what other people are going to think; they’ve lived with me for 92 days, have seen me happy and sad and sick and tired and silly and mean, and I don’t have to pretend be anyone else than who I am. But I’ve also noticed that I’m starting to pull away, back into myself. A couple of months ago the thought of being alone again was depressing; now I can’t wait to get in my car and drive across the country. Alone.
Anyway, we should have ended the voyage a week ago: it wouldn’t have been so painful to leave. Now we’re used to each other, have established patterns, know what to expect from each other – are comfortable in our shipboard skins. And in a week, we’re going to say goodbye. I might as well start crying now. But maybe it’s as Chris predicted weeks ago: we went from joyous to happy to uneasy to irritable to blissful again. We can excuse any behavior because we’ll be leaving in a week. And we’re starting to admit that we’re going to miss each other. The flaws and irritations fade, as do all negatives over time, and we’re left with memories of the good times we’ve had and the new relationships we’ve forged. Now the task becomes how to maintain those friendships: which will fade into fond memories, and which will continue to be an active part of our lives.
I stood on the deck this afternoon, looking out over the ocean and watching the sun set, and realized how much I’m going to miss doing just that. It’s such a peaceful way to spend time, watching the ocean change, the birds, the waves, the horizon – it’s mesmerizing, and addictive. I can see why people spend their lives at sea – it’s going to be hard to leave. I’ve always loved sitting on a beach watching the ocean – I guess this is just a different way of doing that. I need to do a lot of it in the next few days, to try and get my fill, since I don’t think I’ll be doing a lot of it in Pittsburgh. Guess I’ll just have to take a bunch of long weekends and fly down to Florida regularly this winter!
We’re docking in Honolulu ahead of schedule, so we’ll have an evening and most of another full day there instead of just a few hours. I have no plans, save visiting Pearl Harbor and the USS Arizona. Interesting to go from Hiroshima to Pearl Harbor in the same week… Anyway, I hope to catch a sunset at a hotel Dan and Jill told us about, do some suntanning, some shopping, and a lot of enjoying being back in the States. San Diego is screaming up on us; we’re starting to talk about packing, hotels, parties, the holidays, and flights home.
Oh, guess I should explain the title of this blog. We crossed the International Dateline yesterday, so needed an extra day to bring us in line with the US. I can’t even begin to understand the complexities of it; all I know is that yesterday was Tuesday #1, and today was Tuesday #2. The two girls who had birthdays on the 29th were pretty excited – and the movie last night and tonight is Groundhog Day. Tomorrow it’s Wednesday, and we’re no longer almost 21 hours ahead of everyone back home (now THAT was confusing!). We couldn’t point to today on a calendar anywhere, and we have to reset our clocks and computers because they think today was Wednesday. And they’re supposed to be so smart…
Anyway, I’ll be back after Hawaii, as we enter the home stretch. Aloha!