Right now it’s nighttime in Willemstad, Curaçao, and even if I wanted to take a picture of this moment, I wouldn’t. The view from the pier is interesting but not terribly scenic; and besides, it’s dark anyway so nothing would show. But the reason I don’t want to capture this moment is that it would only cause me to remember all the people I wish were here with me, but aren’t. Even my closest friend onboard couldn’t experience this with me.
I went out into port, alone, for about an hour. I guess you could technically say I’ve been here, to this country, but really I’ve only been to the closest bar to the ship. I did get a few coins of the local currency, tokens of my time. But other than that, the only thing I got out of this visit was a lonely Gin & Tonic.
The calm warm night reminds me of the dark and sleepy overnights my friend Calin and I enjoyed together in Papeete. I remember us ordering from a food truck and sharing a steak so amazing that we ordered a second one. I remember then walking to the bench he sat on, and the rock I sat on very uncomfortably. (Why was I on the rock, again?) I remember a big rat scuttling around us, and a lizard crawling up the wooden column. I remember us looking at Sirena and him saying she had taken us a lot of great places. I think he loved her more than I did.
I remember another overnight there when we sat under a gazebo, and the Chex mix we snacked on, and the fact that I was wearing a dress and sitting quite unladylike, straddling the bench. And the fact that he didn’t care. I love that about him.
I remember talking about the loves of our lives. There are a few conversations that I think only he and I can have, that we can’t share with anyone else in the world. I know he misses that too. Our favorite part about movie nights in my cabin was getting to talk after the movie was over. I really wish he was here.
But he’s not, and neither is anyone else. I’m alone up on crew deck, but I’m not the only one up here who is alone. Several of us are sitting and standing here, gazing at the mesmerizing combination of what lies beyond the railing and what hides in our screens.
What I do see past the railing is a very sleepy town that’s mostly dark, save for a few cars making their way across the distant bridge, driving off into the night. I also see a few colorful buildings lit up by floodlights. Fitting for this former Dutch colony, they’re built in the same architectural style I associate with Amsterdam, except I’m pretty certain the buildings in Amsterdam aren’t pastel-colored like these. I hope I get to go there and find out for myself someday. Soon.
What else is there to this island? I’ll probably never know. This is probably the last time I’ll ever see it. So why aren’t I more sad? I’m more sad about not currently being with people who I know I’ll see again.
Of course, if I’m being completely honest (like I always try to be), I am also very sad about the people I miss who I know I’ll never see again. Why can’t I stop thinking about those people? They left such a mark on my soul. It’s like a bruise you can’t stop touching even though it hurts.
Right now, all these people who mean the world to me are just dots scattered across the globe. I want to hang up a map in my cabin and mark each loved one with a pin so that I never lose track of them all.
I am reminded that the great big map I did once have in this very same cabin onboard, is now missing. I have no idea what happened to it. I didn’t take it with me, because I would have found it while unpacking and re-packing. But it’s not here either. Maybe I gave it away. I wish it was still here.
I remember the night Calin and I looked at it together and talked about some of our adventures across the world. I remember looking at it and thinking that it’s already full of people who I will meet and grow to love, and that I just don’t know who they are yet or where on that map our paths will cross. I’ve met so many of them since then.
I miss it. I miss a piece of paper.
(For what it’s worth, it’s a really big piece of paper.)
One other thing I’ll probably always remember about this uneventful night, is the fact that someone else is sitting in my spot up here on deck. Sirena didn’t save it for me, I guess. I also remember how weird it feels to be up here rather than in my favorite spot on Riviera’s crew deck. This used to feel so right, and now it feels so wrong.
The air is suddenly just as tempestuous as it was when we sailed through the night to get here. All day long the waves have been crashing at the rocks and exploding into the air, but now they do so more violently. It must be time to go and head back into the chaos, so I suppose I’ll go back inside and do so.
Once back in the solace of my cabin, I place my new currency on the desk, and admire those new additions to my collection. I even have coins that signify people instead of places—some of the loved ones who are dearest to me.
I remember that I’m back in a realm where seeing coins from all around the world scattered across my desk is completely normal. I never want that part of my life to end. But I also never want to be without those people. I keep trying to find a better balance between the two, and I hope I find it soon.