A Perfect Day?

Dearest Rachel –

Do you remember this place, honey?

Well, I’m back here. Hadn’t actually planned to be – originally, the itinerary had us docking in Nassau today, but some of the passengers were sent an incorrect itinerary, and the cruise line discovered (not sure how, as I don’t recall being asked one way or another) that most people preferred the ‘incorrect’ itinerary, so they obligingly changed it – but that’s the way things are. Weighing your opinions on surprises against your love of swimming and waterparks, I actually find myself at a loss as to whether you would be upset at the change, or overjoyed at the new destination.

The best picture I have of you from there doesn’t show you at your happiest. You used to say how you didn’t always know how to smile and not make it look fake. Guess this time around, you didn’t even try – although maybe you were of the opinion that we needed to just get on with it, get into our suits, get into the water, and stop messing around with all the needless picture-taking. Especially since there were all these inflatable slides and bouncy platforms and whatnot to get to.

Things have changed since our silver anniversary not even five years ago. For one thing, it’s no longer just called Coco Cay anymore. They’ve decided to really sell it by calling it ‘Perfect Day at Coco Cay,’ which it might well be for some people, I suppose. Maybe even for you.

But without you (or anybody, for that matter – I’m sure I could be just as happy watching ‘Megumi’ bounding around the place the way you used to), I don’t see too many ‘perfect’ days in my life, regardless of where I find myself.

Look, I’m trying not to be a wet blanket, here (at least, not until I get into the ocean and come back, at which point, I’ll have a wet towel, at the very least). I expect I’ll still be able to enjoy most of my time here, as there’s plenty to see and do. It’s just that… ‘perfect’ is an awfully high bar to clear, and I have to come to terms with the fact that it’s probably no longer attainable. A good day? Sure, easily. A great day? Why not? It’s certainly within the realm of possibility, along with so many other positive adjectives you could apply to a place like this. Indeed, you’d be hard-pressed to have a negative experience in such a place, barring maybe a severe sunburn, I suppose.

But a ‘perfect’ day? Absolutely nothing going wrong or being less than everything you hope for? That’s a tall order in almost any circumstance. Most of us almost never experience such a day from start to finish. Even a perfect moment can be a challenge to attain (and to be fair, if you’re busy trying to attain one, it’s almost a guarantee you won’t have one. Too much effort spoils the moment every bit as much as anything else that could go wrong. You have to let yourself exist in the moment for it to even approach greatness, let alone perfection).

I mentioned how the ship has been rocking last evening after getting underway; around six this morning, the rocking changed to a rumble, as (I presume) the engines were engaged in a shift of gear, and then stopped. We had, from what I could tell, arrived.

Not that you could see much at this hour – as this view from my balcony as of a quarter past six illustrates. We may now be on Daylight Savings Time, but there’s no daylight to speak of at the moment.

Or perhaps not. For the better part of the next hour, the ship alternated between moments of the engine rumbling followed by moments of calm, like the captain was trying to maneuver it into juuust the right position, and having to check from time to time as to whether he’d made it, and keep adjusting accordingly.

Clearly, a perfect day requires a certain amount of precision.

By seven o’clock, I can see a little bit more of the waterpark to the right, while the reef to the left had been all I could see at six.

You know, back in the day, I would’ve slept through this whole procedure. I recall waking up most mornings to see that we’d docked at one place or another. I’m not sure if it’s because I simply don’t stay up as late, trying to keep up with you and Daniel, or if it’s just the fact that I’m old enough that I can’t stay asleep after the slightest disturbance. Either way, I can’t seem to ignore what’s going on, so I just throw myself together, and begin what’s supposed to be a ‘perfect day.’

The next thing I find myself doing is going through the app for RCL. You’ll remember the anime conventions we went to where they use the Guidebook app? Yeah, it’s kind of like that. I’m not sure I’m keen on this kind of recommendation of one schedule, but I guess it has to be done, in order to experience everything you want to. After all, I’m competing with 4,000 other people for the same resources and opportunities.

Twice that, if you bear in mind that we aren’t the only ship here.

It reminds me of when we would put together a ‘battle plan’ of what we wanted to hit when we were in Disney World for our honeymoon, and ten years later with Daniel and Ellen.

But first, a little bit of breakfast.

And, for a cruise ship, this counts as a ‘little’ bit. I’m trying to be good, honey, or at least reasonable.

The staff is solicitous as always. I believe I was approached no less than three times by someone asking me if I wanted tea or coffee. At the risk of seeming prickly, I’m not feeling like I want to be approached by anyone at the moment, unless some cute female passenger like yourself were to set herself across from me and strike up a conversation. And we all know how unlikely that would be.

At any rate, after turning down each offer, I leave the Windjammer, and head to the Diamond Lounge (yes, I’ve managed to find that), and fix myself a double espresso. It’s something of a nasty trick to play on the waitstaff up there, but it’s not like that specific beverage was available up there, anyway.

I ask the concierge in the lounge about when we will be able to disembark. After realizing I’m not talking about when we get back to Fort Lauderdale, but rather today, she points out that it’s a bit choppy and windy thus far (thus explaining the back-and-forth of positioning the ship), and we would hear an announcement from the captain to this effect when we would be able to go onto the island. I thank her, and head to my room in order to finish preparing myself.

It’s at this point that I realize the traveling alone has one more problem to it – applying sunscreen. I can spray it onto my front, arms and legs easily enough, but my back… well, that’s a problem, and one that never crossed my mind. Even with the cloud cover of today, I know that the UV rays can pierce through the overcast, so I do need to deal with this. It’s an awkward reach, but I hope I’ve managed. I’ll probably keep my shirt on, more often than not, in any event.

Which reminds me; I have got to stop greeting people in different languages. Often times, I’ve been saying ‘guten morgen’ or ‘ohayo’ to someone else’s ‘good morning.’ Which would all be well and good at work for the fact that my shirt has English on it. I’m clearly marked as an Anglophone; why am I putting on airs?

Speaking of my shirt, I guess I put on enough sunscreen, because it’s sticking to my back.

This is what the place looks like now, honey; not a lot like we remember from less than five years ago.

I pass by a place setting up for lunch, with a sign marked ‘wings and fries.’ Shortly thereafter, I encounter a hen walking around; is she volunteering to contribute for the wings?

It’s weird being part of the first few groups off the ships; the place is relatively empty and deserted. I literally don’t know where to go…

Although, in fairness, they give a lot of suggestions as to where to go, and how far they are from here.
Actually, in all seriousness, they do have a number of these maps scattered around, so you can’t get too terribly lost. But it isn’t as if these maps give you any recommendations as to where to go.

…and I miss having you running in front of me, eagerly wanting to be one place or another. I’m just left sitting here, wondering where I might want to go – or even if there’s anywhere here I want to go.

A tram rolls by, and I decide to hop on; if I can’t decide where to go and what to do, there’s no need for me to be on foot puzzling over such things.

One of the passengers is equally dubious about what to do; he had been considering going on the zip line, but in this wind… Another passenger mentions that it’s actually been canceled, due to the weather, as have the hot air balloon rides.

And I thought that thing on the right was just for decoration; guess it is, for today.
Well, it’s not as if you need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows.

The tram starts up, playing Bobby McFerrin. Which is all well and good, but you’ve heard my comments on that song before.

I finally disembark by South Beach, and find myself inveigled into refereeing a trio of soccer pool games for a pair of very competitive sisters – to be sure, it’s hard to determine when a ball is ‘in’ or not, and the beach isn’t perfectly level. Each of them knocks the 8-ball in on the first two games, thus losing the game. The third time, the younger girl, Jayla, manages to clear the table before (deliberately) knocking it in and beating her older sister, Jocelyn.

Nice family, and what with them being on the Odyssey rather than the Freedom, I may well encounter them again. But I’d be just as happy to wander off, now that the two of them have determined a winner amongst themselves. These girls aren’t exactly my type.

I think you can figure out why.

There are, I should point out, a lot of cute girls – and older women – on the beach, but I really don’t dare strike up a conversation. There’s no one who I’m ‘in their league,’ so to speak, and most of those who might be are, understandably, accompanied. At least by playing the ‘cool uncle’ to these two, no one suspects anything – and since I have no intentions on them, no one has any need to.

It occurs to me at this point that a plastic carrier bag is hardly the most dignified way to haul around my towel and other incidentals. On the other hand, why should I be bothered about what’s dignified or not? I’m supposed to be here to relax, not to concern myself with what thousands of other strangers might think of me – as if they would.

But in any event, I find myself outside of the shops. And it really doesn’t make a lot of sense for me to; everything here seems to be made for women, and it’s not as if I have any to shop for. I finally find something that’s not too objectionably feminine, and an aloha shirt that I might wear to beach night at Sparks some time next year.

I also find something that you might’ve liked, had it been in a different color, but the image tells me that it belongs with your quilt of travel destinations.

So I get it anyway. It’s one of those things where, if I don’t get it, I’ll spend the rest of my days remembering it and regretting it. Between the subject, the brushstrokes, and the fact that you’ve been here, it seems appropriate to include it, after all.

Speaking of T-shirts, a girl walks by with one bearing the legend “I am a reality show.” I can’t help it; I ask, “which one? Survivor? Pimp My Ride?” She responds with a pose and the retort, “Shaniquah’s!” Okay, I’m not gonna argue with that.

Three hours in, and I’m already footsore; these flip-flops are okay, but they aren’t particularly supportive. I’m not sure if the water ride area isn’t a separate shore excursion with its own extra charge, but I’ve no real desire to climb all those stairs.

Actually, to the right of this galleon, there is an entrance where they are checking SeaPass cards, so I think I can confirm that it’s an extra charge.

The inflatable park over by Chill Island is gone (Larry has told me that those things, like the blob at Camp Awana, have a surprisingly short life span, and that’s with a hiatus during winter – imagine how much faster those things wore out here). While we’re going to be confined – so to speak – to the ship for the next two whole days, I wonder if I might not do well to return to it after all.

And so I do.

And that basically sums up my… not ‘perfect day.’ Reasonable day. Adequate day. But those wouldn’t work nearly so well as a name or a slogan. And in any event, there’s more to the day yet to come, so I’ll probably write to you in a little later on – which means I ought to sign off for now.

Until then, honey, keep an eye out for me.

Published by randy@letters-to-rachel.memorial

I am Rachel's husband. Was. I'm still trying to deal with it. I probably always will be.

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