Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Gabrielle's Sunscreen

I met Gabrielle and her dad at dinner after Rhodes. Gabrielle is the first person on the ship who has initiated conversation with me, rather than the other way around. She spotted me outside the restaurant and said she’d wanted to say hello since she’d noticed I was traveling alone. Gabrielle gets bonus points. :)

I had dinner with them that night -- also interesting conversation. That’s not the point.

The point is: I ran out of sunscreen this morning. Got all of me covered except my right leg, when my spray crapped out on me. I used some of my tiny tube of face sunscreen on my leg, and figured I’d buy more at the ship’s store. This wasn’t easy -- the ship’s shop cannot be open when we’re in port -- and that meant it was closed all day yesterday (when I was anticipating a lack of sunscreen) and this morning (when it actually happened). I thought I’d buy some in Bodrum when I walked back to the ship from the gulet, but (in a welcome departure from the description in the brochure), the 20 minute walk back to the ship was replaced by a quick shuttle ride from the Turkish tour company.

Back on the ship, I ran into Gabrielle and happened to mention my sunscreen quandary. Which was, in fact, a problem, as tonight was our barbecue on deck, and I’d just showered off the last of my sunscreen. She loaned me hers and said I could return it whenever. I gratefully applied the stuff, and then carried it with me to later events in the hopes of seeing her and returning it. Gabrielle didn’t make it to the lecture on Turkey, the Turkish folk dancers, or the Turkish belly dancer. I did not see her at the barbecue, nor when the crew started line dancing which eventually blossomed into a full-blown dance party.

(Brilliantly done, by the way. Started with the crew performing an amusing line dance. Then the crew did some traditional line dances, prompting more and more passengers to join in. After the Conga line, they gave up all pretense of line dances and just played traditional party music (starting with “Celebration”) which kept everyone up there dancing.)

It was loud and festive, but I didn’t see Gabrielle, and by the time they were up to “Love Shack,” I figured I’d take a spin around the ship and see if I couldn’t locate her someplace more quiet. My first stop was the ship’s bow.

No Gabrielle. Nobody. Deserted. Dark. Beautiful.

Everyone dancing on the pool deck is missing that we’re cruising up the Turkish coast. The city lights are beautiful off the starboard side; ahead of us, the ocean is black and limitless; above, the stars are bright in the sky. Forget Gabrielle. I stand here, taking it all in, pondering my place in the universe -- as this appears to be what one does in this sort of situation. I take the scrunchie out of my hair and let the wind blow it all back as I stand at the rail. Someone turns on a bright light behind me -- I’m disappointed to find out that the crew needed to light up the sail for a minute, and wasn’t simply providing me with dramatic lighting.

They turn off the dramatic lighting and I temporarily ignore Turkey and look at the stars overhead. The crew turns off more lights on the ship to give me a better view (or to do something ship-related -- hard to tell, really). The dozens of stars I could see before turn into hundreds. It’s awe inspiring. I see the brightest shooting star I’ve ever seen.

I feel remarkably good about my place in the universe.

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