Monday, January 08, 2007

Departure! (Thru Connor's eyes).

Today has been a rush. A dizzy crazy rush. I'm kind of amazed that I'm still awake enough to write it.

Of course, getting up at 6 AM wasn't enough to keep things relaxed. I gave the apartment the best clean I was able, turned off the gas, left a spare copy of the keys with the super (she doesn't have them on her own), made sure the shades were drawn, the radiator stopped, the windows closed and latched and so on. I should have saved this for last, because it was stifling in there for much of the day.

But the real frustration was financial. First, I spent about twenty minutes on the phone with Cunard trying to find what was and was not covered by our tickets, when they told me that any expenses were to be billed to Mr. Fushigi's account. Well, that was a pleasant surprise. I wish obtaining last minute travelers' insurance would have been so easy. We got it, but it took about three hours and was a major headache involving my tax returns and an unexpected trip to Manhattan. I also sent in my extension to the IRS, since I'm not going to worry about filing my taxes from a boat.

Final packing was stressful. No worries at first: I already have books on lumberjacks and serial killers and Smashing Pumpkins and the holocaust for my theses. The passport, tickets, umbrellas, and coat were a breeze. Black shirts and Hawaiian shirts and Paisley shirts from Target. I have a jacket and black slacks, and a even a number of ties, so that wasn't an issue. But just you try finding an affordable tuxedo in Fort Greene on a moment's notice. It was the worst thing to leave until the last minute, and having already lost a couple hours to the traveler's insurance, I'm amazed I was able to get the tux at all.

Since we need to be at the pier around 4:30 to board, we had to meet for dinner at about 3:30. So Jess and I skipped on the bus and took a cab out to Red Hook. It's about $10, including tip so pretty reasonable on the whole. When we arrived Sumara's family and Meridith were already there, and while we were waiting for our order Amber and Clara arrived. I persuaded the bartender to turn on the karaoke machine and we all sang a little. Jess and I sang Livin' on a Prayer together, and Sumara Sang Elton John's Crocodile Rock.

We arrived at the pier a few minutes late, but I did manage to snap a couple pictues ("proof" if you will) just before we got in line.





Jess and I!

As I had suspected, we were underdressed for the occasion (at least I was), but not as much as I had feared, and for the moment we don't seem to be raising too many eyebrows. Since we have the Queens suite were were some of the first passengers on the boat. It only took a few minutes to drop off our luggage in the staterooms and I spent a few minutes familiarizing myself with the ship. Tomorrow, I'm going to explore in more detail.

While we were in the Suite getting settled, I used the bathroom and got a drink of water. I didn't even realize we were getting underway. Then, the horn blew, and all at once the stress of the day dissipated, and had been worth it.

What I mean, was that it was happening.

It was really happening.

All this, it isn't imaginary.

It's as real as Andy Kaufman reading The Great Gatsby (which is a wonderful act, by the way, and one they should book sometime).

Of course, some of the best views of New York Harbor are from our own Grand Suite (the Queen Mary) on the starboard side of the Signal deck. But after a few minutes we wanted to join the other passengers on the promenade. For awhile we watched the pier and Brooklyn Heights slip away behind us, then we crossed the deck to look at the Lower Manhattan skyline. As we slipped past Staten Island and out to sea, we decided to stop for dinner (even though we'd just eaten). More on that later. There was a cocktail party starting at about ten o'clock. We stayed for awhile and talked about our lives "before the trip" and what we expected from "the trip" itself. And politics, even. But after a couple drinks it was too tempting to go out on deck (with a coat, the wind was chilly), and watch Long Island disappear into the distance.

For some reason, the most distinct memory of the evening so far has been the smoothness of this ship... far more steady than any other I've been on... and the smell of the ocean. It isn't salty in an obvious way, but I'm still startled how distinct and different it is, and how it can't be confused with the air over New York, even though we're right on the ocean.

How many times have I been to Coney Island.

I'm writing this from the Internet cafe.

But I'm exhausted, and I really need some sleep.

I'll write more tomorrow.


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