On Unsteady Ground

By , Pembroke Pines, FL
I was uneasy. It was my first cruise, and I did not know what to expect. The wind whipped through my hair and threatened the ends of my dress as I staggered after Ashley—the experienced cruise go-er—aboard the swaying ship.
I admit that I can be socially awkward. Knowing this, I allowed Ashley to make friends for me, and soon she was successful. By the third day, we had quite an eclectic group: fellow Floridians, Texans, Marylanders, Californians, and even a few Brits. But in the definition of “fun,” we had a difference of opinion.
I watched, night after night, as my newfound “friends” lived out their Dionysian vision of fun. In a dark corner of the burgundy smoking lounge, Ben, the 16-year-old chain-smoker, would have a fresh one dangling from his lower lip. Up a floor and through the tipsy gamblers, the casino’s flashing lights would illuminate Troy and JR in their attempts to distract the barman and lift a bottle of Captain Morgan. If anyone managed to reach “The-Guy-Who-Was-Always-Screwing-His-Girlfriend,” the gang would pitch over to the outer deck of Floor 6, where they could smoke some cheap dope, letting the scent drift off to sea.
Most frightening of all was the girl on Deck 9. Jamie, the girl with dull eyes and a far away look, sloshing drink in hand, glasses askew, will forever be imprinted in my mind. She was one of the many whose apparent goal was to “hook-up” with as many strangers as possible within her seven-day-limit. And she had no problem with smoking, drinking, and getting high along the way.
Through all of this, I observed; I pondered. Jamie introduced herself to me multiple times. Regardless of how many times I met her, my brain failed to process Jamie’s choices. How could she be so willing to relinquish her only true possession, her ability to think? It bothered me.
Back on steady ground, I wondered about my own role on the cruise ship. Everyone else had had the time of her life, but I had said “No.” Was I exceedingly uptight, the kind of woman with a tight bun, straight knee-length skirt, and a sour, condescending look upon her face? I don’t want to be her; I’m not her. I am wholeheartedly unopposed to having fun—but I will never sacrifice the control of my mind to any person or any thing. I need the comfort of having a firm foundation beneath me, and the assurance that all of my thoughts and feelings are true, and not the by-product of a mind-altering substance.





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