After we got off the cruise ship in San Juan, my parents and I headed back to the same hotel we stayed at before we got on the ship. We were all exhausted, so we decided not to venture out into the city. I took a nap once we could check into our room, then I caught up with my parents at the pool.
My parents told me that they got Rob and Corina’s email, and that they invited me to stay with them any time I’m in New York. I read my book in the sun, then we ate at the same Chinese restaurant. Once my parents went to bed I caught up on the internet. It’s a strange experience to download a week’s worth of missed internet. The world continued without you, but it’s still there to pick up once you’re back. I felt like a junkie, but I didn’t feel bad about it. I missed my friends.
I tried to find Jessica on Facebook. Then on LinkedIn. Then just anywhere on the internet COME ON! Her last name has a wide variety of spellings, and I don’t remember the exact area near Chicago where she lives. I felt desperate, then I felt frantic. If you thought YOU needed closure…I had this whole dream of confrontation and apology. If not that, I could at least get answers, right? What did I do? Eventually I gave up, and over time I needed it less. Her relevance to my life quickly faded once I returned to it.
The travel home was uneventful. We didn’t have to stay in an airport overnight, and I continued to make my way through Game of Thrones. I was halfway through book two once we made it to Seattle. I was in the passenger seat of the cab on the way home, and I could immediately tell by the way he was driving that my dad was going to comment on it once we got out. Sure enough, “on the gas, off the gas, on the gas, off the gas…” was the first thing my dad said once the cab drove away.
My parents stayed one final night. It was late, so we ordered pizza. My parents were amazed that not only could I order pizza online, but that they could watch the order progress as it made its way to my door. We watched another episode of Game of Thrones. I ordered Game of Thrones season one and had it sent to my parent’s house. (My dad texted me a few days after receiving it about NO SPOILERS how much he liked it, how “pissed” he was about a certain event, and which characters he liked. He picked good ones, and I was proud.)
I drove my parents to the airport the next morning, and we parted ways. I was glad we got to go on the cruise and spend time together. My biggest fear of writing this series is that I don’t want my parents to think I regret the trip. I don’t. I hope they understand that I play up the dramatic elements in order to write an entertaining story, and play down the time I enjoyed simply being in their presence. I was so glad that I could give this gift to my parents, and it made me want to make more time for them in my life. I’m hoping we can go camping this summer.
I found myself wanting to /do/ something with my cruise experience, so I wrote about it. The prologue turned out longer than I expected, and I didn’t think it was that interesting…but you guys liked it! After I posted day one, I knew I was in deep. This was going to be a thing. I promised myself I wouldn’t change my FB profile picture or change to a non-cruise banner until I was done writing….boy am I tired of cartoon Jon as seen by Cathy Loucks.
If nothing else, the cruise was worth it as an avenue for glorious, glorious attention. My close friends know that I’m not joking about that, at all. I need attention. More of you probably know this than I realize, so thanks for indulging me. Multiple friends have gone out of their way to tell me how much they like what I wrote, and those moments have meant a lot to me lately.
I ask myself what I would do differently if I was to go on another cruise. I would bring a friend, or go with a group of friends. I think that helps. At least if you’re in the 20-35 age group, there’s not a lot of people your age. Even outside of those groups I bet it’s nice to have an emotional anchor in a friend.
That said, a friend would have held me back. These stories would be less interesting. There would be less talking to strangers. There would be less vulnerability. I was jumping into social situations with no backup plan other than reading a book alone, and there’s something to that. There’s something to making your own way. I guess I’m saying it’s not all downside going on your own, but it’s hard.
As much as I’ve enjoyed the reception to these stories, I felt vulnerable every time I posted an update. While I played up the dramatic elements, the feelings were real. I’m not the most confident, ummm, girl talker, or whatever. And I have a lot of emotional baggage when it comes to that stuff. There were tears on the trip. It’s tough to put those interactions out there for people to see, but you guys have encouraged me to do it more often. Still, no matter how much you guys told me you liked a post, I always felt dumb after posting the next update. Like somehow the others were just luck. Like maybe the attention will all go to my head and I’ll lose whatever “it” was that people enjoyed. I’m doubting myself even as I talk about doubting myself…
Finally, abruptly, I switch from focusing on the past to the present. The past was long, the present is short.
I’m sitting in Cal Anderson park as the sun sets. I’m 15 pounds lighter than when I got off the ship. My hands are getting cold, but I like the atmosphere here. There’s just enough easy-to-ignore distraction to keep me focused. Later tonight I’ll spend more time than I think it will take to edit this. Then I’ll post it. Then this whole…thing…will be over.
The future is scary.
I want to keep writing, but I’m not sure what to write about. The cruise was a unique opportunity. I was surrounded by literally thousands of people I didn’t know and would probably never see again. The only two people I knew went to bed at 10pm every night.
I think I’m going to start a blog. I could write about current events, but I feel weird writing about my friends to their face. I want to continue to be open. I could start an anonymous blog, but you guys are a lot of my motivation to write. I don’t think I’ll get the same sort of satisfaction writing anonymously. I think I’ll start by writing about the people I knew while growing up, but that well is going to run dry eventually, and there’s a big tender spot I’m still scared to touch. I guess I’ll just figure that out when I get there.
Anyway, thanks for reading. Really. Thanks for the attention, the nice words, all that stuff. Let me know what you think I should do next. Tell me what you think I should call my blog, if that’s even a good idea. Feel free to tell me that I’m full of myself.
Finally, as a reward for slogging through this whole thing, I’m going to leave you with the Napoleon joke. I used this joke multiple times on my trip, and continue to use it to this day. I blatantly stolen it from Paul’s cousin’s friend. As you read the joke, imagine a terrible and inconsistent french accent…
THE NAPOLEON JOKE
So, Napoleon is invading Russia, right? He’s got his whole army getting ready to invade Russia. He pulls out his telescope looking glass thingy, extends it, and looks off into the distance. Oho! Out in the distance, he sees a bacon tree! Shock-leh-blue! A bacon tree! I must find out about ze bacon tree!
So Napoleon sends out a rider. You, ride out to ze bacon tree and report back on what you find. The rider leaves, and they wait, and days pass, and the rider doesn’t come back. Shock-leh-blue, I must find out about ze bacon tree!
So Napoleon gets ten men together. He tells them to ride out to ze bacon tree and report back on what they find. They leave, days pass, and they don’t come back. Napoleon is getting worried. What about ze bacon tree, I must find out about ze bacon tree!
As jokes go, Napoleon gets half his army together. Ride to ze bacon tree, then report back to me! They leave, days pass, they don’t return. I must know about ze bacon tree! He sends the other half of his army, they don’t return. Shock-leh-blue, I must find out about ze bacon tree!
His army is gone, so Napoleon gets on his own horse and sets off for ze bacon tree. After a day of riding, he comes across a soldier on the ground. It’s one of his. He’s laying on the ground, all cut up and bloody, he’s missing an arm. He’s dying. Napoleon gets off his horse and goes up to the soldier. What about ze bacon tree? I must know about ze bacon tree!
And the soldier says, “It was not…a bacon tree…it was…a ham bush!”