Days Three and Four, Wednesday and Thursday, 5/18 and 5/19 2011
Last evening, the first after a full day at sea, was marvelous – after I got passed my first reservations about appearing in public by myself, that is. A glass of champagne ordered to the room helped. And knowing I would meet up with my table mates from the night before helped as well. (What a generous, good-natured lot they are!) And by midnight I was at the Golden Lion club singing Barbara Streisand, Liza Minnelli and Beatles hits. Who would have guessed?
OK. Truth. I had it in my mind that I might end up singing when I saw that the club had scheduled karaoke that night. I felt I had to come down for at least one song.
But I am getting ahead of myself. Well before that, our merry band of Britannica Restaurant diners, table 140, finished dinner and embarked on a journey to the Commodore Club. From there, we headed to the Queen's Room, where a big band played until the wee hours. Liz was generous enough to share her husband, Bruce, who loved to dance. So I had the opportunity to stumble through some swing with Bruce, who was a good leader and enjoyed himself regardless of how "good" we looked on the dance floor. I remember laughing quite a lot and Bruce usually had a big grin on his face.
Toward the end of the evening, I was approached by one of the professional "gentleman" who scoured the ball room in search of solo ladies who were looking for dancing partners. He approached Liz first, and after they had danced one number, mentioned that I had not “date.” She returned to her husband, and the pro approached me. I accepted and we danced. He was a poor leader and not a great dancer. Liz confided the same to me later. He gave me one pointer: to peer over his right shoulder as we danced, which felt right, but I could not follow him. I was too glad when the dance came to an end and he led me back to our table.
Despite my less-than-elegant dancing, I was caught up in the romance of the evening: the gentlemen leading the ladies by the hand to and from the dance floor in very formal and gracious style. I am a romantic, and sometimes it is nice to absorb the nostalgic air of the grand ballroom.
Dancing with this professional partner had, however, left me with a lingering embarrassment. The only thing that would absolve me from the stain of being unworthy in the performing arts category was to go downstairs and join the karaoke party already in progress. I had a captive audience, and I made the most of it. These people did not know me, yet were generous in their appreciation for my renditions of Bab's "Don't Rain on My Parade" and Liza's "Cabaret." I closed down the bar with the Beatles, "Twist and Shout," even getting the karaoke jockey and another couple out there on the dance floor, twisting.
Before I went to bed at 2:00am, I sat on the balcony listening to the waves roll and wind grapple with the lashings of lifeboat to the side of the ship above me. It was a strange feeling when I realized the sound of waves was our own ship's wake. It seems there would be no sound if we were not here. The moon hung like single pearl over the water in a crystal clear sky. It was the first night that fog had not hugged the ship like a mink stole. The only disappointment is that it wasn't the enormous moon, craters and shadow lakes standing out against its silvery crust, that rose over Joe stranded on his raft in the middle of the ocean in the film Joe Versus the Volcano.
The air is chill, the horizon gray, but I can see for miles and miles to a horizon defined only by midnight blue fading to a milky ribbon. No land nor boat nor sign of life nearby. We are out in the middle of the Atlantic far from anyone. We left the grave of the Titanic far behind us Tuesday night, after I went to bed. To stay up to meditate on the passing over the final resting place of so many souls at midnight seemed a grim activity for such a pleasure voyage. The good news is that with climate change, we are unlikely to see an iceberg let alone run into one. The nearest was sighted on radar over three hundred miles away. We sail on!
Being on this ship is like being suspended in time and place. Being between worlds as in a Twilight Zone episode. Between the new world and the old world. Between ancient history and the modern era. Between continents. This in-between space is a tower of people speaking multiple languages where everyone learns how to communicate despite being from so many different lands and speaking so many different languages. Take that, Tower of Babel.
This vessel in the middle of the sea also represents a personal limbo between two realities for me: That of New York and my life in the United States and that of an unknown future in the old country, which for me represents a past I have yet to discover. A strange nonsensical journey of the mind and spirit that does not stand up to analytical scrutiny. My future somehow lies in the past.
Last night I was in my element. I needed to stay up late and express my inner diva once more, then meditate on the moonlit waters afterward. Tonight, however, it is an early bed because I am utterly exhausted. It doesn't help that each evening we set the clocks ahead one hour. Once more into the breach!