We’re headed back to Southampton and taking three days to do it, so we sail and we sail and we sail with no stopping. It seems there should be another word for this massive ship moving through the water other than “sail” since the ship has no actual sails. I suppose it’s the same as “rolling down the window” in a car that uses a button instead of the turning thing, and “dialing” a number long after the last rotary phone was retired.
We have been very lucky with weather on this trip and have yet to encounter rough seas—there is a little rocking now and then but nothing that has you grabbing onto the handrails to keep from spilling. Still, there is a slight sense of motion you can detect even on the calmest day, and your equilibrium adjusts just slightly. I remember this from the last cruise we took a couple of years ago and how, once on land, my brain took a while to readjust to solid ground, and I was unsteady and looking for waves.
All of this sitting around on the ship has caused my muscles to atrophy, I’m sure, but it’s also given me time to finally finish reading The Cider House Rules by John Irving. I am a slow reader, and it’s a big book, so it took long enough to read the thing for the other-worldliness of Dr. Larch and the orchards of Maine and the speech patterns of Homer Wells to all became real to me. I was sorry to turn the last page, and I’ll miss the phrase, “Good night you princes of Maine, you kings of New England.”
You know what else? I’ll also miss having a comfortable lounge to settle into where a pleasant server asks, “Can I get you anything?” and having to only wait a few minutes for a rich cup of coffee or a classic pot of tea or a delightful martini or a smooth port to be placed beside me. Sometimes the order comes with a bowl of mixed nuts, and sometimes it comes with a small plate of appetizers. And I’ll miss being called Madame—listening to a lecture about the development of the universe in the morning and seeing a live theater production in the afternoon—having dinner prepared with options every evening—being surrounded by this mini international community where, in one room, you can hear four or five different languages.
There used to be an older English woman who lived on the Queen Mary 2. She had no family at home in England and no reason to stay in one place, and she worked out an arrangement with Cunard so that it was cheaper for her to live on board than to live independently. That seems excessive to me, because as much as I have enjoyed this cruise, I would not want it to be my life.
Despite all that I will miss, I will not miss being so far away from all that is my life—my daughters, the kitties, my horn, my Small Town Newspaper gig and friends. Taking a trip and exploring the world is always a good thing, but going home has its own rewards. If only we could take the ship’s staff with us.