Transatlantic cruises: she was going somewhere, but where?


I was seated next to her at dinner, her husband on her other side. Her hair was silver and short, her large eyeglasses in a frame that faded from blue to green, as did her dress. She–they–were in their sixties, I guessed; young relative to the majority of passengers on this cruise. Holding the menu, she leaned close and asked me what she should have. “What will I like on here?” A tapered, blue polished nail pointed at the evening’s entrees. “It is hard to decide,” I said. “You choose for me,” she said. Her husband caught her attention by laying a hand on her wrist and began suggesting options to her. Suddenly I understood. What I’d thought was a game, a banter, wasn’t.

I saw them along the corridor of stateroom  doors, her looking lost, seeming to feel her way with her hands brushing the wall as a sight-impaired person might, him behind urging her that she was all right, they were going the correct way, he was with her.

“Hello,” I said. “We had dinner together last night.”

She beamed and let go of the wall and said, “Yes, we did, didn’t we?”

By one of the pools I heard her call his name, frightened, and saw him rush to her carrying plates of hors d’ouevres. “I just went up to the buffet. I told you I was going.”

“I didn’t know where you were and I couldn’t find you.”

A transatlantic cruise doesn’t feel like it’s going anywhere, just to sea. A good situation for them, I thought, and wondered how many more chances they’d have to do anything like this.

The same question might be asked for most of us on that boat, given the advanced ages. At eighty, Penelope Lively published How It All Began with a character of like age contrasting the young and herself: “To have this long unknowable future, in which lurked heaven knows what, and it is the mystery that is so alluring. Your own future is also unknowable, except that you can make a few shrewd guesses, and it is not particularly alluring.”

Photo above from   Below is Todd, with the Infinity in the distance.


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