Tuesday, May 26, 2009


The other day as I was going through my suitcases, I found two notes: one from my mother when I was leaving Ohio last December and it said "Drive safely, we love you- see you in the Bahamas". And one from Dara that said "Have a great voyage, see you in May. I'll miss you".

Well, my loves....Summer has arrived, it's Memorial Day. I've now been back in New York for 18 days....except, it's quite surreal. It feels like I've already *had* my summer and it feels like it should be autumn now. Did I *really* sail around the entire world in 4 months? Did I skip the winter? Isn't it September tomorrow? Wasn't I just getting off the ship into Spain yesterday?

The rocking motion I had been feeling on land has started to become a blur. Falling asleep to the mystic moon reflecting on the black water is a distant memory. Waking up to the sun dancing on the ocean right outside my window seems to have been ages ago. The storms that played havoc on my stomach have turned into clear blue skies. The eastern horizon is behind me. The many metaphors of the sea are waning their way out of my vocabulary.

And admittedly, I've fallen a bit melancholy. The sea depth is a million feet, because I've been drowning in tears. I'm unsettled. I am still living out of two suitcases (which is how I found the notes aforementioned.) I am still not in my new apartment yet. I am still missing my shipboard friends like crazy. I see their faces on every stranger passing by. I call out their names. And the harried strangers give me a peculiar look and keep walking by me, through the mean, unforgiving streets of Manhattan.

But alas, there is some good news. The ship will be docked in Boston before it leaves on the Summer Voyage, so I will see approximately TEN of my closest Semester @ Sea Friends on June 12 in Boston for an alumnae reception. I will kiss them and hug them and squeeze them and maybe even bring a few of them back home with me, so I don't have to keep freaking out the strangers on the subways who look just like them, that I keep seeing every day. I take the subway these days, and I stare into space, daydreaming of the sea.

Finally this weekend I'll have my belongings loaded onto a moving truck from where it has been "wintering" in Ohio, back into the city, into my new Hellsgate apartment, which may be more permanent than I thought...... My boss Joe went with me last week to check out the neighborhood of the Brooklyn co-op at 11:30 AM on a Tuesday and we had some doubts. I'm not sure what it was, but I think maybe the dodgy looking drug dealers on the corner turned me off a little.....I'll write more about that later. Everything is up in the air in regards to that life-changing purchase. But at least I've got a place to go on June 1. (And I am forever grateful to Holly and especially to Dara who have generously been allowing me to sleep in their homes.)

The week before Memorial Day is always "Fleet Week" in New York City and the sailors take over Manhattan. I had been traveling on this holiday for the past two years (Alaska last year, Montreal the year before that) and I had to miss seeing these handsome sailors embracing the city that I love so much. This year I stayed local. And it was fantastic to be in the city that I call home on this holiday weekend. Memorial Day has new meaning to me, after sailing around the world and after learning more about the armed forces who have sacrificed so much to protect our country. After visiting Vietnam and the War Remnants Museum. After asking my Dad about his experience as a veteran and hearing his stories. Fleet Week itself has new meaning to me, after being on a ship myself for a small fraction of the time to which these generous sailors have devoted their lives.
Okay, that photo above is actually not from Fleet Week, but from Semester at Sea. This is Kostas, the First Officer on the ship, who was so sweet and handsome.

And I am happy again. My weekend went like this:

Friday- caught up with Fatima and had possibly the most proud moment in the history of parallel parking. I wedged her little red Dodge into a spot on 18th Street with less than an inch in front and an inch behind. (I let Fatima maneuver it out of there, later on. Thought it wouldn't be a good idea for me to try after a few beers.....)

Saturday- had brunch with Dara and my friend Chris. Worked a promotional gig for a really cool event called "Improv Everywhere" on Roosevelt Island (which by the way is beautiful.....New York's little hidden secret, an island tucked between Queens and Manhattan, floating in the east river, accessible by tram, which connects Manhattan to Roosevelt Island, like in the Spiderman movie.)
After the gig, I took the tram back to Manhattan, went to Chris's apartment, and there we watched the Mets game on his gigantic TV, and drank Blue Moons with a slice of orange. There is just something about Beer and baseball.......

Sunday- absolutely nothing, which suited me just fine!

Monday (today)- went to Elizabeth's house in Queens. She grilled out on her balcony. Then Holly swung by, picked us up and we went to Rockaway Beach (yes, like the one in the Ramone's song!) We got there after 7:00 PM and by that time the Memorial Day crowds cleared out. We dug our toes into the sand. I think that Rockaway Beach is another hidden gem of New York City. It was much cleaner than the beaches in Brooklyn and it was very surreal. You look one way and see the blue ocean that I've grown so accustomed to these past four months. And then you turn around and see the Manhattan Skyline.

Here are my friends Elizabeth and Holly on Rockaway Beach:

I love the ocean. I love the water. I love the sound of seagulls. I love looking out to sea. I love the smell of salt water. I love the way the squishy sand feels against my feet. I love seeing the silhouettes of ships sailing along the horizon.

And I love that I'll be back on the Explorer on June 12.

It just never gets old....

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