We have been on the ship for 11 days straight, and I have to confess that I’m slowly coming to a greater understanding of where Jack/Johnny - whoever that character played by Jack Nicholson in the Shining is - is coming from. Just kidding. But I’m ready to be off of this boat. What these eleven days have consisted of is a lot of homework/essay-writing (which I’m done with now), hours of lying in bed watching the OC (revisiting my 7th-grade self), too much time spent contemplating life and over-analyzing my own thoughts, a twenty-first birthday celebration complete with a magnificent show of HUNDREDS of wild dolphins (the highlight), class I wish I could skip (but why, Olivia, when you clearly have absolutely nothing better to do?), eating the same food over and over again (aka pasta and potatoes at every. single. meal.), getting bored on the treadmill (where my two options of things to look at are myself in the mirror – no, thanks - or the number of miles going up, slowly, .01 miles at a time, as I listen to the workout playlist I haven’t updated all semester), and going on “walks” back and forth on one of the side-decks – aka walking back and forth about 25 times if I want to even feel like I’ve walked at all (pretty much a metaphor for how I feel at this point).
Honestly, I’m left to wonder, in my most bored, stir-crazy, can’t-even-sleep-because-my-body-isn’t-as-tired-as-my-mind-is-delusional times, HOW did Christopher Columbus do it?? Or Magellan? Or Marco Polo? I mean, we are talking about being on a ship for MONTHS at a time. Months. And they didn’t even have treadmills.
As we approach our last port tomorrow, I am filled with mixed emotions about how fast the end of the voyage is approaching. Tonight, we will have our last pre-port lecture, a talk that at one point in the voyage happened almost weekly. Over the few days following that, we will have our last, crazy, life-changing experience in a country that is unfamiliar to our own (Morocco). Traveling Europe, once the voyage is over, will feel more like being home again than truly traveling, and then actually being home again will mean that our fantastic and adventurous few months is, definitely, over.
Interestingly, I’m not sad. Well, I can say that on a few levels, actually – I am truly happier than I was when I left, for so many reasons; traveling the world is oddly as restorative as it is exhausting. I’m not sad, though, that the voyage will soon be over. Of course, I will probably cry when I have to say goodbye to my friends, and I will probably cry on my flight back to the states (listening to sad, lonely folk song on my iPod), and I will probably cry once I get home, too. Multiple times. Because I’ll know that this – this voyage, with this group of people, on this ship, with this particular feeling that I won’t ever fully be able to describe – can’t possibly ever exist again. It will be gone forever, except in our own minds and memories (though perhaps that is just as important as the real thing). I will be sad. However, I am ready. I won’t feel like this experience is being torn away from me before it has given me what I need; I’ve had what I needed to gain from this for a while. This voyage has transformed me, and I know that, and I’m ready to take it with me into the next chapter of my life. As I was reading On the Road a few weeks ago, I came upon this quote and wrote it down in my planner for the day that we leave the MV Explorer behind:
“What is that feeling when you’re driving away from people and they recede on the plain till you see their specks dispersing? – it’s the too-huge world vaulting us, and it’s good-bye. But we lean forward to the next crazy venture beneath the skies.”
I think that that quote sums up perfectly the way I feel – and, thankfully, the way I want to feel – about having to say goodbye. It’s sad but inevitable; a part of life, and I’m ready for my next adventure.
I am ready to get to Morocco, to soak up my last Semester at Sea adventure with some of my best friends and to love it while I can; and I am ready, once those moments have passed, to make my way home.