A Private Balcony

Dearest Rachel –

I know it was a long time ago, but I’m pretty sure you remember our first cruise. When the folks took us to Alaska, it was a really big deal, even though we had interior staterooms. You had to bring a nightlight for Daniel’s sake, because once the door was closed and the lights were out, it was pitch black in there. But it was an experience, and we all really enjoyed it; especially since we assumed this was a once-in-a-lifetime trip.

But of course, it wasn’t. They managed to top that two years later, taking us to the Baltics (and in particular, visiting the old country and where dad’s grandfather or great grandfather – I can’t remember which – lived in old Gamla Stan, and worked as a tailor for the royal guards). This time around, they got us state rooms with ocean views. Basically, it was a glorified porthole, but it was big enough for Daniel to display all of his plush toys in it – including Little Ghost Laban, that joined us en route – and for us to watch as we came in to each successive port.

If I remember correctly, however, they had been upgraded to a balcony on that cruise (as a loyalty perk from their travel agent, the same group that I’m continuing to use even now for this trip, I might add), and fell in love with the arrangement. From that point on, every cruise we took as a family – a couple times to the Mediterranean, once around the British Isles, wants to Iceland, and a couple times to the Norwegian fjords, not to mention an actual trip to the Caribbean – had us all staying in balcony staterooms. It was the only way to travel, we all concluded.

To be sure, most of the cruise lines began to discover that as well. Ships being built these days don’t even have seem to have decks with portholes anymore – it’s all balconies, all the way up. And why not? There’s something to be said to sitting outside and watching the ocean go bye from time to time. Mom and dad, in particular, enjoyed taking room service on mornings we were coming into ports, sipping their morning coffee as they watched the ever-changing landscape that we would pass on our way to the ship’s assigned dock, as greenery gave way to a growing cluster of houses and businesses closer to the city center by the harbor.

It was a refuge from the hurly-burly of the Windjammer or the pool deck, while still getting a solid dose of vitamin D. And, as we discovered, a fine place for certain other alfresco activities.

Really, it is something of a logical conclusion, isn’t it? Why does one tan oneself, and dress oneself in the cutest bathing suit or finest clothing, but to look attractive? And why does one strive to be attractive, but to attract a partner? And what does one do with one’s partner, once one has attracted them? Some might argue the details with me on this – and I’ll allow that there is more to the quest to looking one’s best than merely the primal desire to find a procreative partner – but its very primal nature suggests that it’s a very root cause for it all. So the balcony serves as a place to engage in the entire progression, from the first to the final steps of it all.

I still remember you looking out over the horizon, wearing a purple (of course!) sundress, and pretty much nothing else. You weren’t so much saying anything, but you were being deliberately provocative – we both knew you wouldn’t go out in public while running the risk of exposing yourself to the general public. This was a call to action, for me and me alone. And of course I answered the call – did you think I had a heart of stone?

Well… maybe not a heart, as such. I really miss those days, honey.

At the moment, I’ve discovered I can’t stay out on the balcony for an extended period of time, mostly because, for whatever irrational reason, I’m afraid of being seized with the compulsion to hurl my phone off into the sea.

It’s not like it’s functioning poorly or anything; it’s just this strange urge I get after a while. I understand that it has a name – the ‘call of the void,’ I believe – and it generally manifests as an desire to throw oneself over the railing. I admit, it’s the sort of thing that has dimly occurred to me when walking along the upper level of our local mall, but it’s never been anywhere near compelling enough for me to even come close to acting on it. There’s too much movement involved in approaching the railing, getting a leg over, and so forth – at some point, I expect I would catch myself, and ask “what am I doing?” and withdraw. Besides, I’ll get to you soon enough without taking that amount of effort.

Still, I know better than to tempt that sensation for too long; a few minutes of tanning is about all I can manage before I retreat back to the air-conditioned comfort of the cabin. Literally, I’m better safe than sorry.

It’s probably another reason to miss you, though, honey. You could keep me sane, rather than me having to rely upon myself to withdraw. On the other hand, I’m still here, and I’m still at least trying to enjoy myself.

I’ve probably got a few more letters in me before the end of the trip; I’ve managed to book one of the shows (despite the fact that I’m not usually into that sort of thing), and I’m looking forward to meeting up with the Diamond Club crowd again this evening. So, I’ll let you go, and talk to you then.

Until then, take care of yourself, and 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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