The Dissonance of a Different Drummer

Dearest Rachel –

Morning of the fourth day. We were supposed to have been docked in Aruba by now, but that’s understandably been put on hold. Indeed, even while we were in a holding pattern in Kingston Bay, there was another alert topside, as ‘Alpha Alpha Alpha’ was repeated over the public address system. From the rumors I heard (and, you’ll have to understand that they will always be no more than rumors; this is a story that isn’t mine, and, like the other passengers, I have no right to make it so), some elderly individual spent too much time in the hot tub under the hot sun, and may have suffered a heart attack. Now, that probably did not exacerbate the situation in Kingston, as they do have a medical facility aboard ship. My best guess is, a heart attack would be a relatively routine situation, and thus fairly well prepared for without necessary requiring onshore transferral.

The long and short of it is, we are still steaming our way to Aruba, rather than being docked, clearing for entry, and wandering around Oranjestad at this point. Not sure how far away we are; while I did try to ascertain our location, Google Maps was unable to triangulate where my phone is (and thus, where I am), and simply defaulted to my home location, but without the dot that pinpoints said location. It appears to be the electronic equivalent of a shrug and ‘I dunno’ ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Ironically, even as I’m dictating this to Siri, the announcement is coming down from the captain that our ETA is now set at about 3:30 this afternoon. We were unable to proceed at full speed for the entirety of the night, as we hit some rough weather and turbulence – what the captain refers to as ‘potholes in the road’ – on our way. Don’t know how that works on a road made entirely of fluid, but he’s the captain, so he must know. Long story short, our stay in Aruba isn’t going to be all that long, relatively speaking. We will be staying until 11 at night, however. So this leaves everybody at a loose thread, regarding what to do with themselves.

Now that I think about it, this has got to pose some problems for the cabin stewards, as they, too, had counted on us being off the ship and away from our rooms so they could do a proper cleaning. I’ve already had such an encounter last night, returning to my room to find Louis in full cleaning mode. I have been warned away from my college dorm room one or twice by one roommate or another for… reasons… but it’s a little peculiar to be exiled by one’s cabin steward.

Thus far this morning, I haven’t had this problem, even though I’ve spent more time in the room than I did last night. Really, my breakfast was fairly minimal – the selection in the Windjammer, while extensive, is ultimately the same from morning to morning, and I already feel like I’ve tried most of what I’ve wanted to – and I found myself downstairs in the Promenade, sipping a half cocoa, half coffee concoction and munching on a cocoa powder dusted donut while observing the few people milling around down here. Considering that everyone is still on the ship – there’s been no code ‘Oscar’ to speak of – it’s surprising to see certain places on here where the staff clearly outnumbers the passengers.

Humanity is a strange thing. From birth, we are bound and determined to each be unique and special. And, to be sure, we are, starting with our DNA – the two sisters I met yesterday, while identical, were also not identical, if you catch my meaning – and moving on to the collection of experiences we go through. Both our physical characteristics and our outside influences shape us to be separate and distinct from any other human who is or ever was.

And yet, we are also constantly seeking a certain measure of commonality with each other; to be part of a group, whatever that group may be about. If nothing else, we want to be able to share experiences, and relate to others about those shared experiences, in order to make some kind of connection with each other. These two desires are constantly at war with each other within each of us, and it is difficult to decide which impulse to give the upper hand to, and when.

So, you might ask, what does that have to do with me, here and now? Well, as it happens –and I realize, this is going to seem so random – this morning, I put on a shirt with a breast pocket. You’ll remember that’s where I used to keep my iPhone, especially when I would get called into one of those ‘conferences’ at work, those star chamber sessions where I would spend the better part of an hour being informed as to how worthless an employee I was. I’ll leave it at that, as you remember the situation and how I dealt with it. The point is, while I don’t make a habit of it now (since I don’t generally wear those types of shirts anymore), I did find myself popping my phone in that pocket, and turning it on.

Suddenly, I felt compelled to listen to my own music, rather than that which is piped in at various points throughout the ship. There’s something in the hallways, another song in the elevators, something completely different by the pools… and very little of it particularly worth listening to, in my opinion. To be sure, that may very well be the point; it’s not meant to be listened to, it’s simply meant as background noise, the soundtrack to whatever it is people are doing – or not doing; it is a vacation, after all – at various places throughout the ship.

But that’s just not what I felt like hearing, and considering that by its placement, I could have the music within a foot of my ear – and beating right into my heart – I decided to stroll about with it on for a while.

Probably not my best idea; I wind up being ‘that guy’ for a time. You know the one; the guy in the jeep playing rap music four miles away that you’re stuck listening to, whether you want to or not? Yeah, something like that. My stuff might not be as awful as rap music, but I should have borne in mind, not everybody likes it, just as I’m not fond of the stuff being broadcast on the various PAs.

Not only that, but it doesn’t necessarily drown out that music, even for me. So while I’m walking to the beat of my own drummer, there’s this clash of two different beats that I’m listening to (and for that brief span of time, forcing others to listen to). It’s dissonant, and I suddenly realize it might be offputting to others. At least, down in the Promenade, there aren’t that many people to be really bothered by it, but eventually, I retreat to my cabin.

Part of the point of socializing with others is to share in the communal experience, rather than be off my own little world. And this is the place where I need to be doing that. It’s just that, I can only do it for so long before I decide something along the lines of ‘this isn’t my scene,’ and back away to my own little safe place. I know it’s not what I should be doing – especially not in a place like this – but I can’t seem to help myself.

At this point, I can’t wait until we get into port, so I can wander off on my own yet again. I’m sure you wouldn’t approve, but I don’t know what else to do.

In the meantime, honey, wish me luck. I’m going to need it.

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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