Saturday, November 19, 2011

Bay of Biscay

The waters got rough. Really rough for 3 days.   If I walked down stairs, I hung onto the banisters.  If I walked in the theatre, I didn’t make a move toward the back door of the theatre without touching one of the backs of the chairs of the next isle before taking a step.  If I walked beside a wall, I dragged my hand along its wallpaper l, to make sure I could stay standing.  At the buffet, I hung onto the underside of the marble.  I watched on the dance floor as everyone who was learning a new step suddenly leaning to the left at a 45 degree angle.  The teacher stopped the lesson and would say, “Now everyone make a correction and get standing at 90 degrees again.” 

“Look, I fell over and I didn’t even move,” said one of my fellow passengers who was standing near in the hallway near the lift.  I saw Wyona clutching the handle of someone else’s wheel chair in an elevator. I didn’t really think anything of all of this, more than that I wished I had picked up sea sick pills when I was back in London.  The next morning I was up early, dressed and went to check the weather by looking out the balcony.

Wyona and Greg were still asleep and those curtains that block out the light made it so that I couldn’t see what was going on outside.  When I finally got a good look behind the darkened curtains, I gave up my plan to go outside.  I pulled up a chair behind the curtains, swung my leg over it and leaned forward, resting my arms on its back and watched the majesty of the sea: the new height of the waves, the blues and turquoises I hadn’t seen before, the wind pulling clouds of mist off of the waves just as they were about to break and carrying that mist forward. I was mesmerized, both by the rocking of the sea and by the movement of the boat.  It was November 11, 11 am – both time for Bridge to begin and the appointed hour for “The Last Post” to be played, and as well as time for everyone on the ship to stop at 11 am for that well loved text that begins ...“They shall not grow old as we grow old ...”

By now I was in the Macbeth Dining Room for the Bridge lesson, parked by the window so I could continue to watch the fury of the waves as I had done all morning.  The reader of the Tribute to the Dead was a man who had flown a glider in WWII and participated in the D-Day landings.  When his reading of the ships’s loudspeaker was done, the American/German bridge teacher said, we know how this feels for in America for we have lost so many of our GI in Afghanistan.  The silent tribute (Greg calls it a freeze frame for there was no movement anywhere) was over, the captain came on the loudspeaker.  “You may have noticed we have been in the turbulence of a former storm in this area with winds of 74 knots per hour.  Hurricane force is 72 knots per hour.  I have been going ahead full steam, but we have travelled one mile forward.  We are now moving out of this zone in the next few minutes.  We are better off than the other ships around.  They have been going backwards.

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