Wednesday, April 15, 2009

On The Sea

I blame you Jack Kerouac. Just when I think I’ve begun to regain my sense or sarcasm and snark on my now month-old trek, you point me back into the direction of romanticism and stupor. Or, perhaps it has been the unexpected days off which have given me the pause to stand back and take in everything that excites me about my current situation. Either way, I have spent the past two days now enjoying life in two different countries, while spending my evening quietly reading On The Road. It is an odd thing feeling a bit romantic about life on a cruise ship. Yet, for all the waste and largesse, the plastic molding, and – worst of all – the daily line dancing and karaoke, there are moments that still make me step back and feel a sense of living. On the other side of things, I can easily find a quiet place on the deck where I may not see anyone else for an hour at a time, and spend time reading and drinking coffee while the wind whips around. I still find myself constantly shifting between the overriding need to feel busy and productive at each moment and the desire to use my generally abundant free time to spend time contemplating larger questions that perhaps get pushed aside at other times. Although, having just written the previous sentence, that sounds much more convoluted than I really mean it. I guess I could just say that for all the projects I said I would and probably should be working on while on this ship, I have found myself spending more time standing on the bow or the top deck at night reading or just watching the sea go by while I enjoy the feeling of being outside in an expanse that gives me a sense of something greater than myself. Simply, perhaps being from Iowa and unfortunately keeping a fairly strong aversion to the cold, I still savor I night where I can stand outside comfortably. More than that though, I love noticing how the weather changes each night we are away depending on where in the world we are, and going out on a clear night to see the sky riddled with stars, many of which I have probably never seen before and may never see again. Even more simply, I enjoy just watching the little dot of our ship on my T.V. screen, showing me where I am in the world, constantly careening forward it seems. Last night, I took a pause from my aforementioned read and stared straight up at the Big Dipper and thought about how I could probably see the same arrangement in the sky as all my loved ones that I’ve temporarily left behind. Tonight we are sailing north along the Central American coast, returning to the United States in a few days; and, thinking about little things like this on the way home makes me feel more connected with those I miss, even if foolishly so.

Moreover, I believe that on of the greatest joys of working in this type of profession is meeting and talking with interesting people from, literally, around the world. There is certainly something to be said for the convenience of being able to simply sit around and talk with people at length over a beer or seven. Last night we had a crew party; and, before I even realized it, I had easily passed four hours just sitting and conversing with a rotating crowd while we all took advantage of the open bar.

So, while I perhaps meant to write something a bit longer, I feel that perhaps that is enough schmultz from me for one evening. So, as I sit once again in my tiny cabin and feel this ship rock back and forth while the water slaps the sides of the hull just a few feet from me, I will end things here and get back to Kerouac. Perhaps in time I will be able to recount my travels in a way even half as good as he – this would make me pleased. So, to steal a line from a dear friend: yes, there is some cheese here as well, but honestly made…