Thursday, April 21, 2016

Alice & Boyfriend in Shipland

 -I saw Puhg in the sunshine of the French Quarter with a duffel by his feet. I chose our brunch spot based on the name alone—Stanley—an honor to both me and Tennessee Williams. We hugged forever as street saxophonists tootled around us. The trip began with fried oysters and a long walk to the ship port.
-We went to the free Venetian restaurant and were seated at the very back, next to the windows! We watched the propellers spit up water and the sky go pink. I looked at my sweetie’s face in magic hour—golden.
-The sea day was rough for one of us who hadn’t yet grown accustom to the rocking. We read together on the deck—both books by Jon Krakauer. At night we dolled up for red bean wontons and snuck into the passenger-only hot tubs.
-I was woken by Puhg squealing “I’m up!” Finally we were in port! After a stroll around Cozumel, a stop for detergent, and an authentic Mexican feast, we bopped to the crew hangout. I bought Puhg a hipster tanktop and snorkel set for the occasion. We jumped off a cliff into the ocean and swam out to a plane crash site.
-We took a party catamaran out to sea and hopped off one at a time right over the second biggest coral reef in the world. The group looked like floating ants with their faces in the water and butts in the air. I saw so many fish! Pink and blue in schools and solo. The highlight was when we spotted a sea turtle zooming along the sand. We followed it together, holding hands.
-On the Olde Belize River we were guided to see manatees, dolphins, monkeys, cashews, pelicans, and my favorite, a collection of tiny bats! In the heat, we were passed bags of water that everyone rolled on their faces before stabbing and drinking. We ate rice and beans cooked in coconut water under a straw hut and our guide talked us through the bus ride to the Altun Ha ruins. I fell asleep like any good student in the front row.
-The ruins were incredible. “The world is so big,” Puhg had said the day before. Roatan on the map seems like a tiny island, and yet we could have explored it for a month—especially considering what’s below sea level. At the Mayan ruins I felt, “History is so big.” I walked where people made sacrifices. I did a cartwheel where a hundreds of men died. Puhg said he was going to steal a rock and immediately tripped. We both looked at the sky. Perhaps not smart to anger the Sun God. As we left, people manned card tables of plantain chips and fresh papaya. I bought a ton of snacks but only liked the coconut milkshake. Divine! The woman who worked at the stand had worked at the shop for a year and had been to see the ruins once. They are a ten-minute walk away.
-We played Marco Polo on a quiet empty Costa Maya beach and ate chillaquiles.
-The final sea day was needed. Sleep-ins, and gym, and watching OJ. We came upon MB and played a few rounds of Rummy. But I felt weird. I kept feeling weird. And then at 6 I threw up. And then I kept throwing up. The night was supposed to be where Puhg wore the one fancy outfit he brought, we took cheesy pictures on the staircases, we dined, we danced. But looks like I don’t have time to curl my hair—puke. There goes photos—out the other end. And finally, I knew I could not eat maybe ever again. My world was bile and shivering. I was really looking forward to having Puhg see me to the final improv show. It’s always such a fun night, and I was slated to play my favorite game. I waffled on calling Tail several times. Maybe it’s over? I slowly put on my pink dress and carefully crawled backstage. I did two warm-ups and said I wasn’t feeling up to it. I was green, everyone said. I missed the show. I was on, over, crying near the toilet for the next two hours instead. We ran out of water and the store was closed. I had a headache. At two AM I shuffled to the crew mess across the ship to drink two huge glasses of ice water and by the time I got back home I was chucking them up, bright yellow.
-I woke up weak but alive. I was determined to still squeeze some romance out of our last day together. NOLA City Park: Beautiful oak, historic diner, ponds of swans and ducklings. I was still not tip-top so we went slow and sat on a lot of benches. The best things: the outdoor sculpture garden—fascinating, finding a pond turtle scootin’ along that Puhg followed like a body guard until it plopped into water and swam away, and buying too-expensive but totally-worth-it tickets for the old carousel. It was almost 2 PM. I had a new cruise and he had a plane to catch. We took the kiddy train that circumnavigates all the green. My heart tore into little pieces.
-I felt choked walking to crew entrance, through security, past acquaintances in the halls with shopping bags and smiles. A cheap one was plastered on my face. I was hungry but disgusted by all food, and I opened the door to my single looking so empty. I lay down and cried, and when I couldn’t cry anymore I slept, not answering my ringing telephone or checking what messages were behind the blinking lights.

No comments: