Jeanna, my best friend, and I took a cruise the first week of October, from Charleston SC to the Bahamas. It was our first time cruising and pretty amazing. We were celebrating 25 years of friendship.
We realized we were on a fairly "small" ship early on as we staggered through the corridors, left and then right and then left, following the rocking motion. Jeanna was worried about getting seasick. She was fine. I got sick. For four days afterward my ears continued telling my body that I was rolling gently right and left. Not entirely pleasant while staring at the computer monitor.
People who had been on cruises before, on larger ships, said we felt the motion because our ship was smaller. While docked at Freeport and Nassau, Bahamas, we saw cruise ships that were easily twice the size of our Carnival Fantasy. Friends have asked me if it felt claustrophobic on the ship, but it never did to me. The rooms and hallways are pretty much like being in a hotel. Everything else is very open and large and comfortable.
Our first morning at breakfast we sat at a large, round table in the formal dining room, an older lady on my left. She ordered a baked apple and lots of bacon. Eventually we started chatting and introduced ourselves. It was Ruth's 9th or 10th cruise, and she was with her daughter who used a scooter for a reason that was never made clear. By the end of breakfast, we'd traded addresses and emails. Jeanna and I ran into Ruth and her daughter in the gift shop once but then not again until the Charleston airport Saturday morning, heading home. We've been emailing since then, exchanging bits about our lives and families.
We had supper one evening with Jeanette and Sue, sisters who had been on previous cruises together. Sue was tall, blond, an avid photographer. Jeanette was shorter, dark-haired, wore glasses and needed some serious dental work. We ended up on the Nassau excursion with them. Another evening we ate with Mike and his wife whose name I can't remember. They were newlyweds. Jeanna and I hung out a lot at the 21st Century bar, partly because of the bartenders, Dinesh, Ildiko and Edward, but also for the band that played there. We loved our steward Rodrigo, a small man with a charming accent who was able to get us safety pins and always asked what we'd done that day or where we were headed next.
August 1985, I met Jeanna the first day of college, but we didn't connect until awhile later, during a fire drill. She and her roommate and another girl were talking about their interrupted game of Trivial Pursuit. I insinuated myself. There is much history after that point. 25 years of worry and fret, illness, bad weather and bad driving and bad decisions, weddings, pregnancies and births, some arguments, many more hugs, a lot of tears.
The cruise ship, like college, was sort of a buffet for the variety of people you can meet. Like Mike the chatty truck driver from Georgia. Yvonne from Florida, looking like she'd had way too many cigarettes and mixed drinks while she was waiting for her husband in the casino. The young Jamaican couple, dancing, so hip and so beautiful. Those two middle-aged women celebrating their friendship on a cruise, standing on the top deck with the wind screaming around them, sunning and sipping their cocktails, singing Hey Jude and waving their glow sticks, ordering cheesecake, coffee and a turkey sandwich for room service at 4:00 pm.
What have I done, and where am I headed? More importantly, who am I doing it with and who will I find along the way.