Sunday, July 31, 2016

Alice in Ship Land: Last Dance, Last Chance for Love

A perfect port day. Aunt P was in Boston and met me at a coffee shop with a sweet outdoor patio for sun-sittin’! We meandered to the contemporary art museum to enjoy shadow plays and photographs. Got some green smoothie, some internet, some phone time. No pangs of urgency getting back aboard. I ate dinner alone at the diner, ordering a hack mish mash of sides to construct lime fish tacos. I wonder what people around me think. “This person dressed in almost pajamas came on a cruise alone and is working very hard to make okay food.” I holed up in the cabin, writing, writing, writing.

Ideally this would be a “FINAL CRUISE! LIVE LIKE WE’RE DYING!” week, but it just wasn’t. I was pretty happy! But, no bucket list items dramatically checked, no wild risks to take, no things I loved so much that the goodbyes would be difficult. In fact, the only thing I could think of even remotely in the “I want to say farewell” category was the flourless chocolate cake served Saturdays at lunch. This week it just wasn’t there. I shrugged my shoulders and chomped a Pop-tart while watching UnReal. I felt like I SHOULD go to Hamilton one more time, and the places I wanted to visit were closed. I ended up eating overpriced avocado rolls and scamming some internet. The highlight was actually the ferry trip itself. Sun, wind, and Final Fantasy on my Spotify. I watched my favorite part of the magician’s act at night, was invited to a cabin party, went for ten minutes, realized I actually had nothing new to say to these people I see every day, and curled up with The Night Of instead. I did make it to Zum Zum class (Zumba rip off) after promising my friend who teaches it for the past month I would. I showed up and danced in the front row since no one else would. I shimmied and chirped when told to. The class was really short. My friend hugged me after and said, “I’m still drunk from last night you have no idea.” #Cruisin

I was productive—writing every day, finishing my solo show, starting new projects, jumping in deep to my next screenplay, reading Sick in the Head, listening to podcasts. I have gotten SO much writing done since February. I got four essays published, finished multiple drafts of my screenplay, made a big fat revision of my musical, started a new play, lesson planned, and wrote a solo show. Most days I wish I had done more, but looking back on what I’ve accomplished while in the middle of the ocean, I think I did alright.

Monday Folds, MB, and I made a trip to St. George with some dancers. A great day beginning with a pleasant ride over, crumpets, and beaching. I got lobstered, but I also swam to a cool rock, and read a lot of Ta-Nehisi Coates (keepin’ it light on vacation! LOL).

I’m very into Dan Harmon right now. I finished Rick and Morty and kind of became obsessed with hearing how this self-proclaimed alcoholic functions. The final days feel strange. I am getting curious about the outside world again because it will be within my grasp soon. I start to have a bit of an irrational fear. I wonder if I will die before my contract ends. Like a “this cop got shot one day before retirement” situation. I think if I voice this silly thought it will melt away. I tell Folds and MB. They tell me it’s likely. “No!” I say over and over. At farewell steakhouse dinner we discuss what we’re excited to get home to. MB adds under her breath, “if you make it.” I explain the bit to the table and Tail, stone face asked, “What do you want done with your cadaver?”

We had a very special gift—our last show ever was our best show ever. Every seat taken. People piling down the staircases. Standing far far away. At least 1,100 very happy people/fire hazards. I got one minuscule catch in my throat as we sang the finale. It was a dream afterall.

MB and I do a bit where she’s my annoyed teenager Penelope, and I’m her divorced mother. She does Soduku and hangs it on the bathroom door pouting, “I just want you to be proud of me!” I respond, “Doing a puzzle doesn’t make you special.” She says, “This is why Dad left.” After the show we were gabbing and changing when she sat down on the bed with wet eyes. “I’m gonna miss you,” she said. We hugged. She sniffed and added in a sullen voice, “I don’t think it was your fault Dad left.”

The last two days expand into infinity.  I start actually counting the hours, but they still don’t pass any quicker. I have exactly one friend from the ship I have made on my own. He's a bar server from St. Lucia--the one who started "Smart Alice." Without much to do, I hang around his post for a solid hour one night. I learn tons about St. Lucia, his life, his plans. It's hard to crack into a real relationship with people you see in passing, with a major cultural divide, sometimes language divide, but I am leaving with one real pal and an open invite to his island anytime.

I see the dancers do their toughest show for the last time, have a Bachelorette viewing party with some of them, visit the crew pool again, pack it all up, sign the paperwork, do the last improv show all together. It's a good one. Everybody has a shining moment. The cast wasn't the cuddliest I have ever worked with, but it was one of the most talented. Tops and professional at that. The debark process is terrible--waiting and waiting and lines and tired and we don't even say goodbye is the truth of it. We all go through immigration at different times and in a puff of engine smoke it's over.

My bus to Maine is twice delayed. 7 hours. Arriving at 11 PM. A meth head sits behind me and the driver is an angry, jerky driver. I throw up in the bathroom. Of a Greyhound. I can't believe I'm not going back. I arrive at my next gig so late, so hungry, on a rabid hunt for food. Everything is closed so gas station burritos will have to do. I don't mind. There's something wonderful about it all. The harsh bright lights, the aisles. I am free. I am different and free.

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