Tuesday, February 20, 2007


I took last week off from blogging.

My absence from the blogosphere seemed mysterious, I know, since I did not give a reason for taking a break. I am now ready to reveal that reason. Yes, the truth can now be told.

I went away with a beautiful woman—my wife Debra. Debra turned 50 on February 15. Some of you are shocked that I would just come right out and say it like that, but she’s proud of it and I’m proud of her for being proud of it. Sometime last year I asked her what she wanted to do to commemorate that momentous occasion. She said that she just wanted to do something that she had never done before. Now you need to understand something about my wife. Simple gifts make her very happy. I gave her a stuffed red monkey for Valentine’s Day and you’d have thought that it was a diamond ring. Still, I really did want this birthday to be memorable for her.

So I booked us on a Caribbean cruise. It wasn’t a terribly original thing to do, but it was something that we had never done before and it was something that Debra had said she thought she would enjoy. I couldn’t drive her to the port one day and say “Guess what—we’re going on a cruise”; I had to tell her a couple of months in advance so she could prepare. Clothes had to be bought, naturally. (Debra is also the world’s greatest shopper; she acquired her entire cruise wardrobe for what some women would spend on one outfit—and she looked mighty good the entire week.) During the last couple of weeks before the cruise she would, when she thought about the upcoming cruise, launch into her “cruise dance.” I can’t really describe what that was like except to say that it looked like something you’d see on a Peanuts cartoon. It was great.

We set sail from Port Canaveral, Florida on the Carnival cruise ship Elation last Monday at 4:00 p.m. We spent Monday night, all day Tuesday, and Tuesday night at sea. That gave us a chance to familiarize ourselves with the ship. Elation is not the largest cruise ship in the world but it is mighty big. We were joined on the cruise by over 2000 other passengers and over 900 crew members. Our stateroom was nice and comfortable; I had arranged to have it decorated for Debra’s birthday and she liked that.

We had the first of five fine dinners in the Imagination restaurant on Monday night. Everything I had ever heard about cruise ship food turned out to be true—it is really good and there is really a lot of it. The food at dinner was excellent; then there where the midnight buffets, the 24-hour pizza, the 24-hour ice cream, and the 24-hour room service. I think that I gained 24 pounds during the week.

On Wednesday we went ashore at Grand Turk, an island that is part of the Turk and Caicos chain. We took a carriage ride around the island. On Thursday we spent the day at Half Moon Cay, a private island in the Bahamas. We spent the entire day at the beach. It was 85 degrees and sunny; the water was several shades of beautiful blue. On Friday we docked at Nassau, which struck me as kind of touristy. I’m told that you can buy fine jewelry at great prices there. The Straw Market, where you can barter with local merchants for various goods, was interesting. I’ve never seen so many purses one place in my life. We bought our daughter Sara a purse there; she hasn’t seen it yet but she will love it. We got our son Joshua a Bob Marley t-shirt; he likes reggae (and just about every other genre of modern music). We also toured the resort called Atlantis. It’s known for its indoor aquarium. It’s also known for having one suite that rents for $25,000 per night with a minimum stay of four nights. There’s a waiting list. Good grief.

We wondered if we would have any problems with seasickness. The reality for us turned out to be the contrary. We enjoyed the rocking of the boat, which was admittedly gentle. In fact, when we spent out first night back at home, I missed the swaying that had given me the sensation of being rocked to sleep. It had been a long time since I felt that sensation, believe you me!

We arrived back at Port Canaveral on Saturday morning at 7:00 and were off the ship by 9:30. We got back to Augusta at around 5:30 that afternoon. We’re trying to adjust to being home. The crew on the ship took care of our every need; now we’re back to fending for ourselves. It takes some time to accept reality when you’ve spent five days living somewhere else.

So that’s what we did for Debra’s birthday and that’s why I was away from my computer for a few days. We had an excellent trip and that’s good. My wife, who came into this world fifty years ago and into my life thirty years ago and who is love and joy and light to everyone who has the privilege of coming into contact with her, had, she says, the best birthday ever.

And that’s what it was all about.

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