Bon Voyage

Bon Voyage

I worked on a cruise ship once and with the years some of the memories of mundane tasks have faded. What’s left are the people I met. The crew were a mix of rag-tag souls from around the world. We were all broken in some way or another. I remember Pawel, the Polish guitar player. One night when I went outside for some fresh air he was standing there leaning against the railing. He was sobbing uncontrollably.

“I missed my son’s birthday”, he whispered.

We just stood there for a while, the waves gently soothing his pain.

I remember Sasha, who came from a famous circus family. “They tried to send me to the war, but I told them I’m a juggler, not a soldier”, he said and shrugged his shoulders. He spent a year in prison because of that.

But my most vivid memory was the day I crossed the arctic circle outside Norway for the first time. It was a bitterly cold day in June. The officers took me to the bow of the ship to christen me with fish guts and seawater. As they leaned me over the railing to throw the goo over my head I saw a giant whale and two dolphins breach the surface not too far away. It was the first time I had ever seen one.

“Did you see that?!”, I yelled over the ice cold wind.

“Kurwa, what did you see?”, Pawel replied.

“A whale, a whale!”, I called back.

He shook his head and poured a shot of vodka into my mouth.

“This will make you see straight, my friend.”

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