It was with great excitement that I departed the airplane and headed toward the waiting buses that would take me to the ship for a Canary Island cruise. It was my first cruise and for the next week, the ship would be my home.
There were 5 buses being loaded with our suitcases and baggage. The first ones were already bursting so I went on to the next, loaded my suitcase and carry-on, and then boarded the bus to find a seat.
The first rows were already occupied, but about the fifth row down, a young man sat all alone. I was also alone so I asked him if the seat was free, which he confirmed, so I sat down.
“Hm”, I thought, “much too young for me; more in my daughter’s age range”. He was slim and had reddish hair. I had never cared for red heads.
Soon the buses got on their way for the 40 minute ride to the harbor where the ship was anchored. Soon the travel agent stood up with her microphone to announce the procedures. “The cabins won’t be ready upon our arrival,” she announced, “because the guests from the previous crew are still on board. Your baggage will be collected from the buses and kept in the sign-in area and then they will be brought to your cabins as soon as the cabins are cleaned. For the sign-in, please have your vouchers and passports ready.”
“Oooops!” I said out loud to no one in particular, yet turning toward my neighbor. “My passport is in my carry-on and I put it in the baggage compartment of the bus!” I began to worry whether I would be able to retrieve it at the end of the ride.
The ice was broken and the two of us introduced ourselves. His name was Wolfgang and, I could hardly believe it, he was only 2 years younger than me!
“Maybe the bus driver will let me get my bag since it’s right at the front of the compartment”.
We continued to chat, then upon our arrival I went to the bus driver and yes, he’d let me get my bag. That was a relief!
We departed the buses and went to our respective sign-in counters. Since we were both traveling alone, we decided it would be more fun to explore the ship together then on our own, so that’s exactly what we did.
For the next week we enjoyed each other’s company. We went on bus tours together at the various islands we stopped at. We took our meals together, enjoying the conversation and getting to know each other. And in the evenings we would sit at one of the bars, enjoying the live music and occasionally taking a turn on the dance floor. Life was good! Life was once again fun again!
Other passengers took us for a married couple and didn’t believe we had only just met.
We had both embarked on the cruise alone. I was single, but had a boyfriend, John, back home who was unable, and unwilling, to join me on the cruise. Wolfgang was married, yet separated.
We marveled at the fact of our meeting…. how fate had brought two lonely souls, far from home, together. If either one of us had taken a different bus that day we may never have met each other. Yet we had met and too many factors like age and interests just seemed to fit into place.
I refused to let our relationship become deeper. Never again did I want to get involved with a married man, no matter how much he tried to convince me that he was as good as divorced. I was hurt and burned once with my long-term involvement with a married man and never again did I want to subject myself to that pain and hurt again.
On the fifth day of the cruise I needed time to myself. Too many thoughts went through my head that needed sorting. The emotional hurt that my relationship with John caused me, mixed with the elation of being able to enjoy life once again, to laugh and smile. It had nothing to do with any feelings I might have been developing for Wolfgang, but just the freedom of being myself again…. being able to let my personality shine once again. I couldn’t concentrate on the book I had brought to read or on anything else. In the process I broke down, drowning my thoughts in tears.
Later I was once again composed enough to meet Wolfgang for dinner. I had already confided in him about my situation and problems, and he was a good, understanding listener. He tried hard not to let the fact that he was falling in love with me make things more complicated…. but he wasn’t succeeding very well.
On our last day my flight left before his and he accompanied me to the ship’s check out, while he had to remain behind. We waved to each other, not knowing if or when we would ever meet again.
first written: January 2010