Going through my notebook of blog ideas, I came across this written on a page all by itself:
I’m going to mke everything around me beautiful and that will be my life. ~ Elsie de Wolfe
While on my longest vacation ever (2.5 weeks), I decided to modify that quote a bit to fit my current circumstances. After all, I couldn’t beautify my surroundings. They were already beautiful enough, breathtaking even. So I inserted the word “connected” in place of “beautiful”.
Where was I? What was I doing? Who was I with? You may wonder.
I was sitting on the deck of a ship, floating in the ocean, steaming towards Pacific islands covered in palm trees and surrounded by coral reefs. Son #1 was along for the ride, celebrating his 21st birthday in what I felt would probably be our last vacation with him. He’s a junior in college now and I envision a summer internship this year, followed by a final year in school before he heads out into the big adventure that is his life.
While I connected with him, I also refused to follow his schedule of sleeping late, taking naps, and watching tv in the cabin. I made it a vow to try out things that I always wanted to do but never did. One of the goals was to never eat alone.
And I didn’t. Here are my connections in no particular order:
- The Canadian couple who met on a cruise. Way back when, she decided on a goal to get a boyfriend. Way back when, he (an introvert) decided to get up and go. They met on a cruise but not before thinking they made a huge mistake in going by themselves as solo travelers.
- A Pennsylvania couple who both work for Penn State. He pulls her car out of the snow banks in the winter. She rewards him by knitting him outrageous scarves.
- A Connecticut couple both retirees, both complainers. Who complains about creme brulee?
- An Alberta 12th grader who was escaping her family early one morning. We talked about school, manicures and music. I later sat next to her during a Disney trivia contest.
- Team Bosom Buddies who’s leader knew her music trivia and had a dance-off to Thriller. I ended up joining the group for sing-alongs, game shows, and all night dancing on New Year’s Eve. I even befriended one of the team and we’re talking about a trip to Spain in the spring.
- A single dad from Marin who worries about becoming a father again at the age of 42 to make his younger fiancee happy
- The man who barely acknowledged me. Ah well, it takes all types.
- Brenda from California, who lost her husband and now travels alone. She did a month in China by herself. She was traveling this time with friends from Switzerland
- John and Monica and the kids using cell signal on their balcony (ah, the wonders of modern communication!)
- The wildly inappropriate older gentleman who asked me if obese people got that way because they ate too much or were too lazy (I bowed out quickly)
- The retired firefighter from Minneapolis who admired my city and told me about the new Vikings stadium
- A couple from Texas who prayed together before breakfast. They were using the ship as a ferry to get to the islands and then departing to spend time with their son from Singapore. It was the first time they were meeting their grandson.
- The man and the teacup. I told him about my favorite tea: Lady Gray.
- Nina, the trivia-smart barmaid, who helped Son #1 and me out a couple of times, especially during the logos contest. We still didn’t win.
- Neil, the writer from Southern California, who is my new best friend because he said I had to be married at 10 to have a 21yr old son.
- And lastly, the foreign couple with the husband in a captain’s hat. I couldn’t understand a word they said, but I flagged down the coffee service for them and made sure they had silverware. When they left, I congratulated him on the job he was doing steering the ship. Yes, they got my joke.
It’s amazing what you can learn about people in a short time over a shared meal. Connecting isn’t hard. You just have to put yourself out there.