Sunday, November 17, 2013

The Celtic Thunder Cruise 2013 - Day 7

(No pictures for this one. Sorry!

November 7th, 2013

Well, I’m back.

Today has been stressful, and not without its problems, but it has also been wonderful, in a bittersweet sort of way.

I was awakened by Mom. I was very tired, so I mostly just wanted to go back to bed. But then, almost as if she wanted to catch my attention (and she probably did), she said, “I saw the dancers out on deck when I went to get something to drink.”

Yeah, I sat up attentively then. :P Sneaky Mom. She immediately told me not to go pester them, and then started telling me the plans for the day—when we had to leave, how big of a breakfast we should eat, etc.

I told her I was going to go out on deck and get some hot chocolate one last time before helping her finish packing. She told me again not to pester the dancers, and I rolled my eyes, telling her I wasn’t planning on it.

When I walked out into the hall, I happened to glance over my shoulder just in time to see one of the dancers enter a room at the end of the hall. I think that it was their room; that was interesting to find out.

Anyway, I went and got my hot chocolate, sipping it while I walked back across the deck towards my room. The dancers were gone, but I didn’t really mind—I promise, the reason I had gone out really was to get the hot chocolate! :P

Later on, after packing up for the final time (and me eating a breakfast consisting of leftover croissants from previous breakfasts), I followed my brother and mom out to the deck so that they could get breakfast.

I wasn’t hungry, and my brother was in a very grouchy mood. So I told Mom that I was going to wander around the deck so I could get away from him. She again told me to stop looking for the dancers. I had to tell her I wasn’t. :P

I re-tied my shoelaces, and then remembered something I wanted to do—say goodbye to Soulman. I went over to Mom and told her I wanted to go to the casino again to make sure I hadn’t left anything there last night. Somehow, I just figured she wouldn’t let me go if I told her I wanted to say goodbye to him. XP I do plan on telling her why I really went down there; though, in my defense, I did want to make sure I hadn’t left anything too.

I made my way down, figuring I would have to write a note and give it to someone else; after all, I had only seen Soulman around in the evenings, and it was morning now.

To my surprise, though, he was around—but he was sitting down talking to someone on the phone. I furtively walked past, and after a few minutes of searching for paper, just walked up to one of the employees and asked if they knew where I could find some paper to write a note with.

She couldn’t find any, but after much searching, she finally found someone who could give me some spare paper, and then gave me a pen. I thanked them both, and then went to scrawl out the note.

It was a short note, basically just thanking him for being so friendly and for the fun time at the karaoke sessions. I also said again that he had a very good voice. XD Then I went to find him, intending to just hand him the note and then run back up to my room.

But by that time, he was off the phone. I handed it to him with a shy smile, explaining that I had just planned on leaving it for him, because he was busy and I didn’t want to waste his time. I stood there awkwardly, waiting for him to finish reading it.

Then he looked up with a smile and said, “Aw... thank you.” I smiled back, and said ‘you’re welcome’.

A second later, he placed the paper down and offered a hug. I was all too happy to oblige and hugged him back. Then he said, “I’m going to miss you.”

I was absolutely stunned in a touched sort of way, and thanked him, saying I would miss him too. He told me to take care of myself; I told him to do the same. Then I waved one last time and ran for my room.

Mom had a bone to pick with me when I got back. :P I had taken too long, and she was angry that I had almost made us late. I didn’t say anything; I just listened, hoping she would stop soon. And she did.

Anyway, then we got ready to go. After about a half-hour, we were disembarking the ship. The security guard checking our passes on the way out was none other than Sassy. It was nice to see him again before leaving, even though I didn’t get the chance to say goodbye.

I wanted to take the stairs, because I hate both elevators and escalators... but the woman working there told me I was not allowed to take the stairs. I opted for the elevator, and stood to wait in line for it to come back.

When my turn came, I was stuck in a tight fit with two men, two women, and lots of luggage. Finally, I got down and ran to catch up with Mom. We made our way through the large building, outside, and to the place where the shuttle was waiting to pick us and other passengers up.

We had to wait in the shuttle for almost a half-hour; there were more passengers slowwwwly making their way towards us.

That was when Mom realized that we had more than likely forgotten my hat. She didn’t remember packing it, and the last I had seen of it, it was hanging on a hook by the bathroom door in our stateroom on the ship.

So we argued in quiet voices about that for a while. She accused me of forgetting it because I was going ‘crazy over boys’, which wasn’t true in the slightest—I forgot it because she had told me so many times in the beginning of the trip to stop wearing the hat, I had put it on my bed and forgotten about it by accident.

She finally dropped the subject, and I turned my MP3 player on so I could sit there and enter my dreamworld; and basically just ignore the chattering people slowly filling the bus up.

Finally, we left. We drove for about another half-hour before reaching the airport terminal where we needed to get off. Mom hurried in; she wanted to call Dad before he went to work, because she had attempted to get us an earlier flight back, and if she still had those earlier flights, he would need to know the change.

When we entered the airport, we were told by the man at the check-in desk that we had to pay $50 apiece to switch planes—whereas the woman on the phone that Mom had talked to had said it was free. Mom refused, and so we had to sit in the airport and wait for five hours for our plane.

There was, thankfully, free WiFi, which is where I spent most of my time. I figured out how to rotate videos, and did so to the video my mom took of me dancing. She had wanted to get a full view, so she had tilted the camera sideways. :P Luckily, I could rotate it so only the first few seconds were upside down.

Our plane arrived at about 1:30pm, and we boarded. Then... not much happened. I watched videos on my laptop for a bit, then listened to music on my MP3 player until we reached Atlanta. XD It was only a two-hour flight.

Then we were stuck in Atlanta for nearly three hours waiting for our next flight. :P I tried to charge my laptop, but since it’s old, sometimes it doesn’t work—and it just had to do it this time. The plug will be plugged in, but it won’t charge. As a matter of fact, it’s doing it again now...

Anyway, I sat next to this woman and worked on a journal entry or skimmed through videos I had filmed on the trip until Mom told us it was time to get up and walk around before we had to sit in a plane for four hours (that’s what she thought though; we ended up flying for over six hours).

When we finally got to our aisle on the plane, I realized something very scary—my seat was apart from hers, and, as it turns out, Larry’s as well. My seat was 24B; on the left side of a man who had already sat down.

Mom argued with me for a few minutes, trying to tell me I was wrong before looking at the tickets herself and realizing I was right. She said, “Wait, so... that’s 24B?” She looked at the seat next to the guy.

The man spoke up and said that it was. Mom looked at me and asked where I was going to put my luggage (I had one lunch bag and one larger case). I said I had thought I was going to put it under my seat (that’s what she had told me to do earlier).

At the same time as she told me it didn’t look like it would fit, the man spoke up and said, “Mm... I don’t think it’s gonna fit, sweetheart.”

The knot of nerves in my stomach untangled a bit as the pet name ‘sweetheart’ reminded me of a few friends of mine and calmed me down. Mom helped me get my laptop out of the bag, and then the man stood up and let me pass him to sit down in the seat beside him.

I glanced at the seat near the window, the last seat in our three-seat aisle. I got a little anxious, worrying about whose seat it might end up being.

A few minutes later, a man with short red hair, younger than the one already next to me, stopped and told us that the seat on my left side was his.

The nerves came back as I stood up along with Jeff (I found out that was the first man’s name) to let Micah (the new guy) come through and sit in his seat. Jeff was very nice and helped put Micah’s luggage up in the overhead compartment before sitting down again.

At first, I sat very stiffly with my laptop in my lap, trying not to jostle either of them. I have a tendency to fidget or accidentally lose balance and knock into people. As a result of staying stock-still and tense, my muscles started to ache. :P

But then I figured I should try to strike up conversation—after all, I’d be sitting here for hours and I couldn’t just stare straight ahead as still as possible. I glanced to my right and noticed that Jeff was reading something on his Kindle; it was a Bible. Then he switched books to one that sounded, from what I could see of it, like a how-to book on writing.

So I gathered up my courage and asked, “So, are you a writer?” He looked quizzically at me, and I nodded at the book open on his Kindle screen.

He realized what I meant and said that he wasn’t, not really, though he liked to write. We talked about writing for a while, and favorite writers; he showed me on his computer a Kindle book that he had self-published. I told him about the books I have on Amazon, and he later on used the internet to check Of Whispers and Wanderings out.

We talked about homeschooling for a while, and what I was doing in school. He told me about a website— He showed that to me later on as well.

I found out that he is married and has two daughters, the youngest being fifteen. We then talked about churches for a while; sometime after this, we fell silent and he started to read.

I didn’t want to waste battery on my MP3 player (it hadn’t charged completely, and I had no idea how much battery it had left), and my laptop only had about ten minutes worth of power left, so I just sort of sat there and drifted off into my dreamworld.

After a while, I turned my MP3 player on and listened to music. I kept drifting into that weird world between worlds, where you’re not awake but you’re not quite asleep yet either. At some point, Jeff and I had to get up to let Micah out to go get something.

I was half-asleep when Micah returned, and so he had to tap me on the arm to rouse me. I apologized about twice, and hurried to get out of the way so that he could squeeze through the very narrow aisle and into his seat.

We returned to our places yet again, and I continued listening to music. At some point, Jeff said something to me. I had to pause my MP3 player and ask him to repeat himself. I don’t think he ever did; he just said, “Oh, sorry. What are you listening to?” I said I wasn’t really listening to anything important, I was just half-asleep.

He showed me the website, showing me a few of the products they sell (they’re basically a Christian version of Amazon) before going back to reading his emails. I went back to staring into space, dozing off and waking up again.

At some point... I fell asleep again. I woke up a little while later and realized I was very close to Jeff’s shoulder, almost like I had been about to fall asleep on top of him. :P I apologized and said something like, “I’m sorry, I hope I didn’t fall asleep on top of you earlier and make you mess up what you were working on.” (He was doing some work on his laptop.) He smiled and said I hadn’t.

Later on, I fell asleep once again. And when I woke up, my head was resting on Micah’s shoulder.

I sat bolt upright, feeling my face go warm. I was about to apologize, before I realized he seemed to be asleep. I didn’t want to wake him, so decided to wait until later to apologize.

I got on my laptop for the seven minutes I could before it died. :P I watched one video, and wrote about three sentences of a journal entry. Then I had to shut it off. I sat there for a while longer, staring into space and listening to music.

Then I leaned forward and rested my head on the back of my mom’s seat (she was sitting in front of me) in an attempt to get more comfortable. I failed, and when I sat back again, Jeff asked, “You alright?” I smiled a bit and said I was fine; just very tired.

He told me I could move my seat back, but I shook my head, saying my brother was behind me and he would get annoyed if I did that, because he has long legs that would get cramped if I put the seat back. Jeff joked, “Well, it’s just your brother.” I giggled, but didn’t put the seat back.

Mom reached back and gave me a chocolate chip granola bar, since I was hungry. She had asked me if I wanted one, and I said yes, telling her I didn’t feel so good and it might make me feel better (my stomach was all achey, and my eyelids were heavy because I was so tired).

The stewardess came by a bit later and asked us three (Jeff, Micah, and I) if we wanted water. Just me and Micah said yes, and she gave us small plastic cups of ice water.

Jeff asked if he could borrow mine, adding quickly, “Don’t worry, I’m not going to drink it.” I laughed and said he could; I had already noticed the case for his contact lenses out on the fold-out table, and assumed he needed a bit of water to clean the lenses. Sure enough, he carefully poured a tiny amount of water into the plastic case, and handed the cup back to me, saying ‘thanks’. I said ‘you’re welcome’.

By this time, we were about four hours into the flight, with two hours more to go. I listened to more music again, drifting off every so often before being woken up.

I fell asleep yet again... and woke up at some point. I was still half-asleep, and had forgotten where I was. I knew I was asleep on someone’s shoulder, but I was still in my dreamworld and since falling asleep on people’s shoulders is a common occurance in my dreamworld, I thought nothing of it. I vaguely remember feeling the person whose shoulder I was resting on shift, murmur something, and then chuckle quietly. My guess is that Jeff woke up (he had fallen asleep, I think), noticed I was there, and then laughed a bit. :P

I drifted off again a few minutes later, completely oblivious. The next thing I know, someone has their arm around my shoulder and is shaking me awake, saying quietly, “Come on, time to wake up.” (See, the plane was beginning to descend; that doesn’t mean landing though, it still didn’t land for another good hour. :P)

I blinked drowsily, sat up... and realized I was in a plane, and had just been sleeping with my head resting on Jeff’s shoulder. I mentally facepalmed and apologized, mortified. He smiled and said it was perfectly fine.

For the remainder of the flight, I managed to stay awake, although I was yawning quite a lot. Micah was awake now and watching out the window.

Mom came down the small corridor that ran through the center of all the aisles. She was walking around; if she sits still for too long, her legs go numb and she has to move around. She asked me if I wanted something else to eat, and I shook my head, blinking. She asked if I was okay, and I nodded, mumbling, “Just tired.”

The rest of the flight passed uneventfully. Right before we landed, I retrieved a napkin the stewardess had given me, and asked Mom for a pen. She took one from her purse and handed it back to me.

When I finally got up the courage to talk, I did—I asked Jeff if he could give me the URL to his blog so I could look it up. Just then, the plane landed and it got loud, so I couldn’t hear him. I handed him the napkin and the pen, asking him if he could please write it. He kindly obliged, also giving me the URL to his daughter’s blog.

Then the plane stopped. We had to wait a little longer before unbuckling our seatbelts, so Jeff took the time to go to his daughter’s blog and show it to me. It’s an art blog; she is a very talented artist.

He put it away and started packing his stuff up. Then he stood in the aisle to help nearby people retrieve their bags.

I glanced over at Micah, smiled a bit, and offered my hand, saying it had been nice to meet him. He smiled back, shook my hand, and said it had been nice to meet me too. I apologized for falling asleep on his shoulder earlier, and he laughed quietly and said it hadn’t been a problem.

Me being me, having spent six hours next to these two guys on a small plane... had made me get a little bit attached already. :P Not in a strange way; anyone who knows me well knows I start liking people very easily, and if I’m with someone for six hours straight, even if I just met them... I begin to feel like I’ve known them for much longer, and consider them friends.

So that was tough. :P I wanted to hug Micah, but I didn’t know how he would react. Since Jeff has two daughters, I figured his reaction would probably not be too extreme. So, just before he left the plane, I gave him a hug and said it had been nice meeting him. He set one of his bags down so he could return my hug, saying, “Aww, thanks. It was nice meeting you too. And hey—I’m gonna buy your book.”

I giggled, smiled, thanked him, and waved as he left the plane. Then I retrieved my luggage, and followed Mom and Larry outside.

I have never been so happy to feel the cold Washington air. Yes, I had fun, but, as a song that Colm Keegan likes to sing goes... “I’ve had my run/Baby, I’m done/I gotta go home.”

I was happy to be back home. As we made our way through the terminals towards the exit, we passed by Jeff. I didn’t say anything; he had places to be, and so did I. My mom, brother, and I ran outside, searched frantically for our car, and spotted it.

As I climbed in and settled down with my Matthew West CD, Into The Light, I felt... strange. Like, yes, it had come full circle... but something was missing. (And no, I don’t mean my hat, though yes, that is missing as well. :P)

I was doing the same exact thing I had a week ago—sitting in a car while my dad drives us through the dark, listening to the same songs, wearing the same things... and yet...

(Added note: If you don’t want to hear a lot of ramblings about my thoughts and emotions, I suggest you stop reading here. :P)

Well, when I left home, I was terrified. At the hotel, panicking and crying, I was certain that I was going to have a positively horrible time and regretted ever having planned this trip. Several of you had to witness my self-dislike episodes at that time, while I talked to you through free WiFi.

But as I rode in the car towards home, I realized I wouldn’t change anything that happened for the world.

Despite my worries, despite my fears, my homesickness, my doubtfulness... I had a lot of fun. I made unlikely friends with people of all sorts. And I learned things I didn’t know before.

First, I’m going to list all of the people I met, and all the countries and states they’re from. The ones I consider myself friends with will be in italics. Ready? Here we go.

Olaotse – South Africa
Cindy – South Africa
Cara – United Kingdom
Adriana – Mexico
Ciaran – Ireland
Keith – Ireland
Colm K. – Ireland
Samuel – Jamaica
Sakda – Thailand
Ryan – Ireland
George – Scotland
Aoife – Ireland
Tadhg – Ireland
Colm P. – Ireland
Conal – Philadelphia, U.S.A.
James – Ireland
Áine – Ireland
Rachel – Ireland
Soulman – Philippines
Kris – California, U.S.A.

Lauren – Washington, U.S.A.
Hayley-Jo – Ireland
Belinda – Ireland
Sammi – Philadelphia, U.S.A.
Damian – Colorado, U.S.A.

Jeff – Washington, U.S.A.

And those are only the ones whose names I knew—there was another man from Ireland, whom I considered a friend by the end of the cruise, but didn’t catch his name. There was a woman from Maine, who wasn’t quite a friend but whom I talked to for quite a while. There was the waitress, Ida, from the dining room—I never found out where she lived, but considered her a friend. There was another waiter whose name and homeplace I never caught but considered a friend...

Then there was Micah, who I don’t quite consider a friend, but I did meet him—as far as I know, he lives in Washington as well. There was also Kyle, the sweet boy with Down Syndrome, whom I also consider a friend, even though I don’t know where he lives.

Do you see what I mean? I met people from all walks of life, and my mom talked to people from Australia and Canada too. I forged friendships that lasted too short a time for my liking, but that I will always remember.

I did things on this trip I never thought I would ever do.

Think about it. I danced not once but twice with a guy from across the ocean. I actively approached people and struck up conversations with them. Some things were as simple as being even more polite than usual, and striking up conversations with employees rather than avoiding them, head down, as I usually do in stores; trying to be as friendly to the ship’s employees as possible, and helping them out as much as I could. Other things were as complicated as singing karaoke. sang karaoke—me, the kid who hates her own voice!

I flew across the United States, boarded a moving ship for the first time in my life, visited islands that are technically part of other countries, talked to someone only to find out they homeschooled their girls and was a Christian who liked to write... things I’ve never done before.

I learned things too.

I learned to take chances, that the benefits will most likely be better than whatever problems arise—if I had stayed my shy self, I would have missed out on autographs, friendships, dancing, videos, photographs...

I learned that people aren’t always what they seem. Quiet people or solemn people might end up being the friendliest (as was the case with Jeff), and friendly people might end up being a little less than how you imagined them (as was the case with Sammi).

I learned that it’s very hard to sing and dance. XD

But I also learned that dancing is easier when your partner is extremely talented at it. *grins*

I learned that not everyone is going to make fun of me if I fail at things I try—no one laughed or teased when I danced, or when I sang karaoke. They may have realized I wasn’t any good, but they didn’t mind, because we were all having fun.

I learned that I can withstand exhaustion easier than I thought. You’re looking at someone who probably got about seven hours of sleep total during the first four days of the trip, and only about five hours a night after that. XD

I also learned that it is quite possible to love many people, and be homesick for more than one place at once.

I’m also learning that it is quite possible to be happy and sad at the same time—particularly when you’re happy to be back with your family again, but also sad because you’re missing people you might never see again.

All in all... it was a wonderful trip, and I’m glad to be home, but I also miss the friends I made.

My emotions are still all in knots, but I know I’ll figure out in the end. For now, I have to get back into the rhythm of typical life; schoolwork, chores, normalcy, and all.

I hope you enjoyed hearing about my trip, and seeing the photos and videos. :) Leave comments and tell me what you think, or ask questions; I’d love to chat!

Day 1
Day 2
Day 3
Day 4
Day 5
Day 6

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