A feast of fresh, tropical fruit from a road-side farmer's market was the only thing that saved me from the stench of Miami. Sky-scrapers towered on either side of me, glaring in the warmth of the sun; alley-ways stretched off of the road, their only decorations graffiti and litter; off in the distance lay the docks, reminding me of Chicago maffia and classics such as On the Waterfront and The Godfather with a tropical twist; and finally, meeting my eyes in the far distance, the sea made her appearance. The star of light, the sun, shone on the blue waves, reflecting the azure heavens above in her fathomless deep. The glittering mirror almost hurt my eyes.
We were hid from the sea by several turns, until our ragged vehicle pulled into the port. Our luggage pulled out onto the curb, we closed our nostrils and tried to find some cleaner air inside our lungs to breathe. The breeze was chilly, and I wrapped my shawl closer around me, even as I got the only pair of sunglasses I could find––a stretched, scratched pair––out of the back seat of the car to protect my eyes from the ferocious glare of the sun. After waiting for what seemed like forever, our luggage was hauled off and we were left to gather up the gargantuan load of purses, instruments, harp stools, technical bags, carry-on suitcases, and so forth, to struggle the best we could up the sidewalk. Entering the building, we gave thanks for our kind and helpful guides, who led us through the myriad of halls and infinite checking lines, giving us short-cuts through the crowd of people waiting to board the ship. I was rather excited to show my brand-new, glossy passport, and to sign my name across the dotted line, and then, after waiting a bit more and reading War and Peace in the lobby just to show off, we walked through the air tunnel and onto the boat.
The halls and rooms were styled after Las Vegas and the gaudy decor of the showman's life, with gilded furniture and maroon and purple and orange color schemes. We caught a rather dubious lunch out on deck, where people were slowly gathering and the staff were trying their best to work-out a few hours' turn-around of passengers.
After eating very lightly of sauteéd fried peppers, mushrooms, and caramelized onions, I followed my family down to the eighth floor, where our cabins were located. Opening the door, I beheld a very small hall, an even smaller bathroom, and a cozy little sitting room with two twin beds and one bunk bed, covered in snowy linen. I made my way through to the glass door, and, opening it, felt the wind of the ocean hit me in the face, carrying with it a salty tang of sea-water and the city stench of Miami. I peered over at the brilliant blue depths of the water, and wondered at the very beauty of it.
We unloaded our suitcases, and I pretended I was a heroine in a book as I organized the jewelry boxes and makeup kits along the counter in the light of the tropical sun. Once finished, we explored the boat a bit, investigated the library, the shops, the shuffle-board and put-put golfing ring up on deck, and then went to an early supper.
The food was wonderful, and the style of the meal first-class, with tasty and innovative options and perfect portions. Yet even more wonderful was the fellowship of my family as we communed at table. I do love my folks. Scotch blood runs through my veins.
After a delectable dessert of melting chocolate cake and fresh fruit and exotic cheeses, we retired to our cabins. I dressed in my nightgown, and, pulling my rose-printed robe around me, I stepped outsdie onto the private deck. All was dark. I felt the sway of the boat in route, as it sailed away from the lights of Miami into the thick darkness of the open sea. I peered into the black water, the white foam lapping against the sides of the boat, and felt a chill quiver run down my spine. The salty wind intoxicated me, refreshing the nerves of my mind, as I was overpowered with awe at the pure, mysterious, terrifying, lovely, brutal, magnificent water below me. I felt drunken with the savage beauty of it, and wondered if I might lose control of my body and throw myself into the fathomless deep, to feel the water rush over my head and the great Mystery that had consumed nations and kings swallow me whole.
Shivering, I crept back into the warm light of my cabin, crawled inside the bedclothes, and thanked God for the very safety I found in He who had created the savage secret of the sea.