Sunday, October 24, 2010

How to Make Friends Over Sunsets and Martinis

Betsy and I discovered deck 12 aft our very first evening on the cruise.

Deck 12 was the top deck and aft means the back o' the boat.

We spent the vast majority of our time on the back of the ship as our stateroom was deck 10 aft, our favorite breakfast place was deck 11 aft, and our favorite cocktail hour place was deck 12 aft. It was, by and large, the quietest area of the ship and far enough away from the pool area, buffet, and nightclub where most people stayed.

We found our spot that evening - our first - when we were looking for a quieter area to have cocktails while we watched the ship leave the Port of Miami.

The Miami skyline from Deck 12

That same evening we would discover how gorgeous the sunsets were from this very spot and were determined to return the next evening.

The next day - our first full day - found us docked in Freeport, Grand Bahama Island. We considered getting off the ship...for about 30 seconds...and then decided we really had no interest in doing anything of the sort. I took my laptop to the pool deck to write and Betsy wandered the ship looking for a quiet, comfy place to read her book.

Her exploration led her to the library - one would think a brilliant place to find a comfy out of the way space in which to indulge in a bit of vacation reading. As she walked in, a woman followed her, both in search of the same thing. Both were terribly disappointed to find that the so-called library, while having a display of books, was a most unfriendly place in which to while away the afternoon. The books were behind glass, there were some gentlemen huddled around a table playing chess and laughing, and the only chairs about were what you might have found in your grandmother's parlor. Stiff. Unyielding. After a friendly exchange with the other woman, they parted company and Betsy resigned herself to a lounge chair on the pool deck not far from me.

Later, after I'd napped and we'd both showered and changed our clothes for supper, we wandered back up to deck 12 to watch the ship depart Freeport and enjoy the sunset.

There weren't many people milling about up there. Bruce was playing his selections of Cat Stevens, James Taylor, the Beatles, and Van Morrison just below us on deck 11 and we were able to grab the perfect sunset table on 12 - near enough to hear the music and far enough away to be undisturbed by it.

Just as the sun began to turn the sky brilliant shades of pink and purple, a woman came and stood at the railing just in front of Betsy, blocking the view.

Betsy said, "Oh no! Please, please move!"

The woman turned, apologized, and then both exclaimed at the same time, "You're the woman from the library!"

Laughing, we asked her to join us and she happily did. Her name was Susan, originally from Long Island, living in Florida. Mother to a teenage daughter and listener of the NPR (hello, soul sister, welcome to our table). She was on the cruise with a girlfriend of hers.

We had a lovely visit and were joined by a new friend, JR, she'd met the previous night at Captain Cook's piano bar. JR, it would turn out, was from a little town in Indiana of which both Betsy and I were most familiar.

We parted ways around supper time, Betsy and I opting for the relative calm of the Longboard bar before retiring to our stateroom where there was wine and a balcony, Susan and JR off to meet Susan's friend somewhere else. But, before we parted ways, we agreed to meet the next night for the sunset and martinis.

Each night then, we met on deck 12 aft in time for cocktail hour and the sunset. I did join Susan, JR, and Tara (Susan's friend) for one evening of debauchery at Captain Cook's with Laurie the lounge singer where, even if I wanted to disclose the number of gin and tonics I drank, I couldn't because I cannot remember. I do remember "Sweet Thang" - a redneck who introduced himself to Laurie as such as a joke...but the joke was really on him when it stuck. Sweet Thang wanted very much to hook up with someone...anyone...that night and did his darnedest to get it to be me...for awhile. Silly boy. I'm a professional gin and tonic consumer. I go home with no one. But if you'd like to buy me a drink or two, please feel free.

I spent some time with the three of them at the pool on our last afternoon while Betsy found a nook to read some more.

Mostly though, the time was spent with Betsy or by myself - writing, thinking, daydreaming, napping, and looking forward to martinis, the sunset, and new cruise friends followed by my most favorite time...balcony and wine time alone with my mom. Making memories.

Betsy & her martini - deck 12 aft with Nassau, Bahamas in the background

No comments: