When I turned 65, a mere few years ago, I spent my birthday with good friends at a day-long Zen meditation retreat in the Marin Headlands. It was glorious, peaceful, fulfilling, sunny, and calm. We hydrated all day with bottles of crystal clear spring water and ate organic foods. Friends made me gifts out of what they found around them in nature: I received some interesting and heartfelt sculptures made with the keenest of intentions.
Ah, how far I’ve come!
Turning 70 this month (time doth fly indeed, when fun is being had), I will be sort of meditating on waters salty, eating six meals a day rich in calories, and being as decadent as possible on my first cruise ship voyage. I don’t know whether it will be calm because I have no idea if I am prone to sea sickness. I guess I’ll be finding out in the first week of April.
My friend Leba insisted we book this week-long voyage a full year ago when she found a bargain on Princess Cruises and convinced me to join her on an adventurous journey down the coast of California, with one stop in Mexico.
I am nothing if not daring.
Yes, my first cruise voyage will take me to places along the California coast I have been to many times before, like Los Angeles (Long Beach), Santa Barbara, and San Diego. But the Mexican part of the voyage takes me to Ensenada, and I am fully prepared to get off the boat and spend lots of money on as many tacky tourist doo-dads as I can find. Olé.
The major part of the voyage is simply down the California coast, so I don’t have to fly anywhere to catch the ship (I despise flying): All I have to do is take Lyft to a pier on the Embarcadero, and the rest is all facials, massages, and mani-pedis! I have booked all my special treatments and look forward to each and every one. Not to mention the hours of lounging on a luxurious deck chair, swathed in mystery and linen scarves, wearing a different large straw hat every day.
My mini suite stateroom on Dolphin Deck awaits me, mini-balcony and all.
My travel companion has booked us for lunch dates with friends and business associates all along the coast, but I told her I will be spending my days onboard, doing nothing but reading, writing, and eating, with perhaps a wee bit of drinking as well.
I don’t need to see more of the Los Angeles area than I already have.
Yes, I fully intend to explore my first ship, each and every nook and cranny, take pictures of all the craft has to offer, and then turn my journey into a column or two for your edification and delight. I will be cruising for seven glorious days, and intend to immerse myself in that world, a world far more exotic to me than Los Angeles or San Diego.
The musical theme from Love Boat keeps playing in my head.
Will there be a chipper blonde cruise activities director? A handsome and sexy cruise doctor? A bald and uninteresting ship’s captain? A store to buy stuff with the name of the boat printed on it? I will buy it all! Hats, bags, t-shirts.
But mainly — and this is the genuinely good part — this cruise will be a chance for me to be with my friend Leba. We met at a nail salon on Haight Street six years ago, and have been soul sisters ever since. We bonded, as our gel nails did the same, over tales of New York City and show business, discovering along the way she had already met over the telephone several times with my dear husband, in the line of San Francisco arts coverage business, and turns out, she lived only a block away from us. She invited Peter and me to watch election returns at her place, and we’ve been family ever since. I love Leba.
And will I still love her after sharing a stateroom with her for a solid seven days on the wild and raring ocean? Yes, I’m sure I shall.
A while ago, she made me promise we would still be friends, no matter how much we got on each other’s nerves on this voyage. I smiled and assured her, yes, we would remain friends.
I mean, who else would book me a year in advance on a cruise where I may discover I have a sea-delicate stomach and where I may get a bad sunburn?
To Leba, I am grateful. I look forward to our upcoming adventure.
And yes, we shall remain friends!