My First Time

It was my first time. At the age of 64 I image that most would have thought that I would have done it many times before, but that wasn’t the case. I had thought about doing it once, but that was over 25 years ago. I was younger and stronger then. It sounded like an intriguing and exciting thing to do, but I never got around to it. To be honest, the only reason that I did it now was because of Julie. She felt that we should do it. I guess a lot of couple do it and don’t think twice about it. The idea wasn’t alien to me, I have to admit that I was intrigued. Naturally, I was also a bit nervous. Julie said it would be OK.

I’m used to traveling where the transporters goal is quantity rather than quality. However, I remember a time in the distant past when that was not the case. My first flight was spectacular. I traveled to Hawaii at the age of 19 accompanied by friends, and at the sensible cost of $300. A cost that included lodging at a string of budget motels. The Boeing 474 that took us was first class, as was the gourmet meal that was served on tiny real china. The flight attendant took a special interest in our little group, adding to the illusion that were were closeted royalty.

Like a junkie’s first high, this experience was never to be repeated. Air travel is now something I endure. An experience where I feel grateful for a half of a cup of lukewarm coffee served up in a paper cup.

I was unprepared for what I experienced. Friendly, helpful, smiling… they guided me from station to station. Up this ramp, down that velvet roped maze. Always smiling, eye contact mandatory. It felt good, yet a bit disconcerting. My first time on a cruise. My first time to the wilds of Alaska.

Cruising on the mighty Norwegian Jewel. Gigantic in size, a small city afloat. My every need tended to. A place where the steward calls me by name. A place where my ever ravenous son William can order two complete breakfasts plus a side, and the server doesn’t blink. A place where someone makes my bed and puts out fresh towels in my boat style bathroom. A place where my questions are always met with a smile and a polite response. It feels good. It feels unnatural.

There are dangers at sea, but they don’t present as super storms or pirate’s ships. Rather, they arrive more subtly. Endless food of every type available 23 out of the 24 hours of a day. A soft mattress that whispers, “Stay with me, you can go to the fitness center tomorrow.” A ship’s credit card that makes any purchase magically possible, as the bill only arrives at the end of the trip.

I am learning to navigate these dangers, but with difficulty. I’m trying to eat sensibly, but my questioning GI system is letting me know that my choices still need to be adjusted. I did make it to the gym, but at a time later than I would have liked. As far as the ships credit card is concerned, for now it is a wild card. However, I can tell you that I have not purchased an Omega watch or an original oil painting.

Today is a day at sea, with our first port-of-call tomorrow morning. Soon it will be time for lunch. I hope to be more controlled in my choices. Perhaps I will go to the Stardust theater for some family friendly entertainment this evening. My original plans to visit the pool have been dashed by strong winds and frigid temperatures. I’m on a cruise. I’m relaxing. I’m slowing down.

Today I am grateful for first times. My goal is to continue to seek more of them.

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