It all began with an unprecedented cruising adventure...
It was February 2011 when Charlotte emailed what can only be described as the most enthusiasm-fuelled email that has ever escaped ones 'Drafts' box. I imagined her panting fingers typing "Half-price, they're HALF-PRICE. Let's go on THREE consecutive cruises! Let's conquer the WORLD! I'll bet some of the ships even go to SPACE!" My recall might be a little unreliable on that front, but I reciprocated with the excitement by calling her while in the middle of reading the first sentence (while tigger-ing around the room). That was all that was required, rendering her efforts in writing a 75 page long email (explaining how this cruise was essential to her life's continuence) as rather pointless. But I do believe my answer was "Yabba-dabba-Chappa!!!!" or something to that effect, which she seemed fairly pleased about.
At the time of this proposition, I was working full-time in an office environment and reeling in the predictably insufficient wages one would imagine. But boy, freeloading sure can pay off (I kid, my parent's robbed me BLIND). And Charlotte was an impeccably organised and capable student. Thus it was possible, and possible was all we needed. I have forever thirsted to explore Europe and Charlotte likewise, so naturally, we booked it immediately. Unfortunately, I was naive as to how exciting the two months leading up to the trip would truly be. I was not aware for instance, that if you are to meander through Middlesbrough with seven dimensions of excitement dancing in your pupils, that you should "expect to get arrested". I say that in jest, it would be highly amusing though surely. Even if there had been multiple arrests I would have forgiven all after spending eight interminable nights in Europe.
The day of departure arrived sooner than it felt possible. Preparations were tiresome, as they are when preparing for a journey of eight nights which requires no less clothing than is necessary for an entire lifetime of cocktail-sipping and sun-consuming. We were boarding at Tilbury, which required waking at an obscenely early hour in order to arrive before the ship departed. Though Charlotte's exhaust over-exerted itself in its suicide mission, we were able to salvage it with some of Asda's finest wire, preventing it sparking and blowing us up. Though we arrived with our limbs in a different composition, we made it to Tilbury surprisingly early.
As we climbed aboard, the level of excitement was apparent all over our stupidly delighted faces, right up until we remembered that we hadn’t labelled our luggage, just after we placed it in the custody of the attendants.
“Noooooo”, we grieved in unison.
Fortunately, they were Superattendants and all was waiting for us when we entered our cabin. A wave of relief washed over us. After a quick fire-drill, we pottered across to the deck, sipping in the breath-freezing Southern air awaiting our departure. Thoughts of the following eight nights were like marble art for the brain.
With me, I had brought a note-pad; with the intention of writing a travel journal. The truth is...at that time my writing was in a deep, irrevocable state of 'being on hiatus' after I had convinced myself in college that it wouldn’t take me anywhere. But the truth is I didn't know where I wanted to go at that time. The aura of uncertainty that manifested in my early departure from college continued to loom making life a daily struggle of ungratified self-enquiry. "What am I to do with my life? I can do plenty of things well, but what will I do? Will I do anything that extends the hairs on my neck?" This was a grave worry that clashed with my sunny demeanour.
I sat back and allowed my focus to be stolen by the emptiness of the pool, an enclosure perfectly designed to harness water for (my guess was), swimming in. An empty pool was but a ditch in the boat and this confused me. Maybe there was an abundance of skateboarders on board who insisted on it, some mid-70’s wild cards with flame-coated wheels and backwards caps that asserted their inner youth. The surrounding blue of the above and below seemingly had no separation. I was completely absorbed. And it was within this moment that I began writing, writing everything that surrounded me, writing everything that occurred within me. What was most significant for me was that I was writing...