Saturday, December 26, 2009


At the moment I'm sitting on my balcony, settled in a blue and silver lounge chair looking out over a parking garage and bins full of garbage. A haze is settling in, so the bright blue sky is mottled and streaky. Cars streaming by on the highway, the subtle roar of traffic overwhelmed by the constant beep of trucks moving backwards. Every once in awhile a bird chirps, breaking the loading dock drone.

This is how cruises start. We're on water but so tethered to the dock you'd never know. Walk down a few flights of stairs and suddenly reality is mini cheesecakes and pistachio cream, complimentary of course, offered at marble table, chandeliers overhead. But, look out the window and there are still endless black suitcases being loaded onto forklifts.

A cruise ship is a fantasy vacation for some. A family reunion for others. A place to honeymoon. To be surrounded by luxury and glamour. Casinos an piano bars. People taking care of your every need.

But for those people, a cruise is a job that takes them away from their homes and families. An endless cycle of making beds, carving ice sculptures, smiling at complaining people. A home that looks nothing like the extravagence that greets the travelers. Their quarters look remarkably like the bowel of a submarine, windowless, stark white walls hidden behind discreet doors passengers aren't allowed to enter.

I find I'm even more polite when I'm on a ship, aware of how hard these individuals are working as their customers do anything but. Already, in spite of still being at port, alcohol's pouring and people are swaying. The feeding frenzy's started. How often do people have 3 desserts, at lunch, in the real world? Sometimes I wonder what these waitresses and bartenders think of us. If they notice the
same things I do - people suspending real world rules to engage in a weekend orgy of over-indulgence. Or, if we blur into a constant stream of bodies, moving in and out, about as noticeable or memorable as pieces on an assembly line.

Perhaps I'll work on that this week. Learning to be anonymous and letting loose more than I usually do.

But, here I sit on this noisy balcony, trucks still loadng, writing on my iPhone so I can still get my thoughts out there. And I already passed on the midafternoon chocolate pudding and parfait frenzy.

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