Saturday, February 26, 2011

Now what? Or maybe the journey resumes...

Stumbling around on the 'net last night, I came across a site listing writing prompts to inspire mere amateurs like me. Except that they all started with, "List your top 10...(favorite cookie flavors, phobias, most embarrassing dates, etc, etc.)"

Yeesh, people, I couldn't have come up with that on my own?

I rather prefer the rant, the improv, going wherever the ideas take me. It's the initiation that's difficult for me; once the fingers start typing, words and ideas come out line after line and it's actually more challenging to know when to stop and how to wrap up.

I suppose I could list my pet peeves here (when I'm trapped in a snarl of traffic on the turnpike for hours, as I was last week, every irksome detail instantly comes to mind and I could type away madly--if I had the laptop with me).

But there is always that trip journal I want to re-start. And the day to be documented is a low-key day: a transition day from land to sea. Maybe that works?

We rise early, complete the final packing of our bags, convene in the lobby awaiting our minivans. We watch the other cruisers mount the sleek bus, their bags being hurled in the hold beneath the seating area. Keep an eye on our bags lest they become intermingled with those travelers' belongings--we all have ID tags attached in advance, identifying the cruise line and the cabins. The other travelers seem more sophisticated than we are--a bunch of ethnics from Buffalo NY and suburban Philly, with gangly teens in tow and a hypercaffeinated 4 year old hopping amongst us.

The bus departs, clearing the way for two oversize vans to appear and we shuffle ourselves into two equal groups. Plenty of room, except for backpacks which are convenient and not, simultaneously. I can never figure that out--how a backpack is the best way to carry books and personal items since it prevents arm strain and is less likely to be left behind. And yet try to get into a car and they expand dramatically, crowding laps, getting dropped on feet, and generally being bothersome.

Our driver is a woman, looking to be of Hispanic origins, and she has an amazingly leaden foot. We zip along the motorway at speeds approaching 90MPH, leaving the official Crystal bus far behind. In addition to her hyperactive foot, she is quite the conversationalist. Well, my dad goads her on, asking her all sorts of questions about the UK, her heritage, the shuttle business, the port of Dover...I lose track of the topics they cover and instead focus on the delightful place names of Britain, pointing out the more amusing ones to the kids.

It seems easily two hours, maybe more, before the landscape becomes more rugged and I can tell we are approaching the White Cliffs of Dover. Decorated with the ruins of a castle, of course.

The Cliffs really aren't white; they weren't white when I saw them at age 18 heading to the ferry that would take me to the Continent. Today they are a creamy beige but still impressive as the blue waves crash against their base, over and over endlessly. We'll be on those waters soon. J decides that we must return to Dover, and soon, to explore that castle. Her transformation to Anglophile has been rapid and complete.

I don't recognize the port, despite having been there twice; I guess the world changes over 30 years? I am surprised that ours is not the only cruise ship departing; I had never envisioned Dover having the type of cachet that merits being a cruise port (equal to imagining Royal Caribbean departing from Penn's Landing. Sorry, can't be done). But it is old and new and somehow everything flows and we are in a newish blue painted building being welcomed by Crystal staff and having our passports and documents checked.

It's really happening. Wow.

My vision from now until the rest of the day is blue, aqua blue. The customer service center, the uniforms of the staff, the gangway, the tags on our suitcases. We board and the first order of business--is lunch. The deckside cafe is aqua blue and it is our first meeting with Kiko and the other staff, their smiles welcoming. Truly a feeling that all things are possible...want a Shirley Temple? Want two?

The breezes, gentle, cross the deck and brush over my arms. Instant relaxation. This is going to be some adventure.

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