A week ago today the island of Cozumel, Mexico was outside my stateroom window. Memories of the cruise sit in a strange space in my brain, like they belong to another life somehow. I read posts on social media from my fellow travelers about how they are sad it is all over. I haven’t been sad, but I think that is because my brain has decided that the cruise workshop space still exists and I’ve just stepped away for a bit. It feels as if I could just step back. Or maybe as if I’ve bundled it up small and carry it with me.
The trip was not made entirely of joy and awesomeness. This is because Howard and I accidentally packed along some emotional baggage. As this sort of baggage tends to be invisible, we tripped over it on a couple of days until we managed to identify it and get it safely stowed away. Perhaps that is why I’m not sad about being off the ship, perhaps it is because, when we left the stateroom, I left some of that stuff behind. I hope the porter doesn’t mind cleaning it up. Though it likely evaporated by itself without me there to sustain it. Yet the hard bits are vague in my memory and the lovely parts are crystal clear. All the photos remind me of happiness and the entire trip was a gift, one I shall treasure.
The attendees have been sharing their photos of the trip. As I flip through the folders I realize that while we were all on the same ship, each of us had an experience that was unique. I see photos of places I did not go, of people I did not spend much time with. That was one of the powers of the cruise as a location. Each person could choose what sort of trip they wanted to have. Some stayed on the ship and wrote, or read. Others went on tours and sampled native foods.
I learned that building a house in Jamaica is a multi-generational project. They build a few rooms and move in, only adding to the house as funds come available. We saw lots of open and thriving businesses whose upper stories were construction zones.
I wore a silly hat and walked through a cave that has been traversed by a Spanish governor, pirates, runaway slaves, and nightclub goers. The very air of the cave reminded me of the Pirates of the Caribbean ride at Disneyland, which told me I was passing through the original. I stared up in wonder as bats flew overhead.
And then there are the things for which I don’t have pictures.
I ate dinner every night with a different group of writers and never lacked for good conversation. I ate new foods, both on the ship and on the shore. I dressed in fancy clothes and felt happy. I stayed up late because talking was more attractive than sleeping. I participated in dozens of conversations that started “next year…” I was saved from awkward food by my waiter who showed me the proper way to go about eating butterflied shrimp. I spent time with long-known friends and acquired some new ones. I saw kindness as people helped those around them with problems both big and small. I felt an amazing sense of community among our group who was there.
As I said earlier, the trip was a gift. It is one I’d love to share. Registration for next year’s cruise will open in a couple of months, I hope that many amazing people will be able to join us because we plan to make it even better. I know I feel honored to have been a part of it.