The Love Boat…come aboard, we’re expecting you…

One of the first things I remember the Comedian saying to me when we embarked on our rocky romance was that he sometimes worked on cruise ships and would take me on a cruise with him one day. It took some time for that one day to arrive but, like all good things, arrive it did. Even after he had booked me in and I had received my boarding pass from the cruise company I still didn’t believe it would happen… given our history there was a more than fair chance the ship would be full, my booking would be lost or we would simply break up as we had done on so many previous occasions.

But the day arrived, children were despatched and lo and behold I was allowed onto the ship without hiccup. Apart from it being a virtually free holiday it was significant for me because it had not been an easy road to this point. An eighteen month rollercoaster ride with totally unpredictable loops and drops. I was very happy and relieved to finally be at this point.

A cruise is a cruise is a cruise and having been on a cruise last year with the kidlets I knew what to expect. There was the full cast of characters: the drunk bogans, the drunk bogan couples, the drunk bogan singles, the drunk bogan hens groups. We entertained ourselves by creating sub-groups including “couples we never want to see having sex “and “how did those people afford a cruise”.

What I really enjoyed about this cruise was getting to know some of the crew and how things work behind the scenes. One of the things people often say to the Comedian when they learn he works on cruise ships is how lucky he is to get “free holidays”. It’s not all fun and games when you’re working on cruise ships. While he is usually on for only a short time the majority of staff are on contract for months at a time and may not see their family and friends at home for six months or more. Some form empty on board relationships to stave off the loneliness, others drink and embrace the loneliness. It’s repetitive work, in a restricted environment and you are constantly surrounded by ugly, badly behaved, entitled, drunk bogans in holiday mode. It’s not pretty folks.

During a chat with the other on board comedian he described the “before and after” effect of being an entertainer on the ship. How after you perform everybody wants to know you. What a strange little “celebrity” phenomenon that is. It was enjoyable in a creepy, weird way to experience this. This is as close as I’ll ever get to feeling like Angelina Jolie so I’m going with it.

The first couple of days we went about our business unnoticed. Hanging out, eating, drinking (a few too many cocktails), listening to music. Nobody noticed us. Then the Comedian performed and as soon as he was off stage it began. From the first drunken stupid dickhead staggering towards him and wanting a free CD because it was “his birthday” to the constant parade of people telling him they enjoyed his show (which¬†was lovely). Because I’m mentioned in the show as the “carer” there were many remarks of “oh, you must be the carer” as we passed. And people simply stopping, starring, whispering. It is a very strange situation.

Overall I loved our time on the ship. A very rare chance to be alone together in our own little bubble. Cruising is not my favourite way to spend a holiday but a short cruise was a wonderful way for us to spend some relaxed time together. Hopefully another love boat experience is on the horizon.

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Kissing Frogs (part 1 – of many?)

So I’ve been back from NYC for almost a whole week. I Facebooked the NYC experience so not sure if I’ll ever get back here to update in any more detail.

The title of this post relates to me deciding to dip my toe into the Internet Dating scene before leaving for NYC. Some could have argued it was too early but I thought it would be an interesting way of distracting myself from mundane life and, at worst, something to blog about. One thing I know about myself is I like having a man in my life. It’s not necessarily a good thing and I have at times wished it wasn’t so… but it is what is. Probably some psychoanalysis required to figure that one out.

So I joined RSVP and after a very short time made a connection with someone who was amazing from the very first email we exchanged. I couldn’t quite believe it. By the end of that first evening I had let down my guard completely and put aside all the rules of internet dating to set up an all-day first date for the following weekend.

I was apprehensive but excited. That Sunday with M was wonderful. We just felt right together, relaxed, natural, happy. It was a superb day. I was reeling that night and the first two weeks as we flirted via text and FB; it was hard to believe and very exciting.

Leaving for NYC was a bag of mixed emotions as I was extremely excited to be going on this much longed for girls’ trip but also a little sad and apprehensive at leaving this newly found “love affair”.

Things went weird pretty early on (an innappropriate FB message from me after a few drinks: a rookie error I was told) and our communications soured somewhat. Nothing irrecoverable I thought.

Upon coming home I was extremely tired, jet lagged and overly emotional. A more sensible person might have decided to keep some distance until a more rational frame of mind returned. I am not that sensible person.

To cut a long story short it’s all over Red Rover. Worst part is that it ended via a few cranky text messages, not even a phone conversation or a face to face. I am sad because this felt so special and because it really didn’t get a fair go. But I’m not into flogging dead horses.

So as I dust myself off and eye that saddle again does anyone have any internet dating tips or possibly a brother/neighbour/co-worker who likes short women with big boobs and a penchant for Dr Martens boots and zombies?

Prelude: NYC

In 24 hours I’ll be on my way to the airport for the much anticipated trip to New York with my besties. I can’t believe it’s taken this long to be here and I can’t believe it’s actually here.

It’s amazing how life can change in a short period of time. A few months ago when McNulty dropped a missile onto my life I didn’t see how I’d be able to go on this trip and enjoy it. It just didn’t seem possible.

Then the dust settled and the future started to seem not only possible but bright. I knew this trip would be just what I had imagined and what I needed.

But life wasn’t finished playing little games with me. Two weeks ago I met someone who really shook me up, made me feel things I hadn’t felt for a long time, made me laugh, made me purely happy. I couldn’t be more surprised (I might get that put on a t-shirt, life has been constantly throwing surprises at me lately).

It’s obviously too early to tell where it’s all going and what it all means. And I’m trying hard not to do my usual thing of over thinking everything. But right now, as I finish packing for New York, I feel like I’ll be leaving a tiny bit of my heart in Sydney with a man with a sad predilection for tracky daks.

Hop hop hopping to Kangaroo Island

Sorry… lame, I know. Sorry. Sometimes it’s hard to resist playing the corny card.

You may remember I recently got the opportunity to explore South Australia’s Kangaroo Island for SheSaid.com.au (see my article here).

It was a wonderful experience, without a doubt. Who could complain about a no-expense weekend away in such a beautiful, unique location?

Going away on my own, sans kidlets and husband, is strange. It highlights the two-sides-of-the-coin way I look at myself as a wife and mother. I am so often overwhelmed, angered, exhausted, exasperated by parenthood and coupledom. The urge to claw my way out into open space and fresh air can be all consuming… but only ever temporarily. Because as soon as an opportunity arrives to be just me for a brief period of time I immediately miss my little tribe of crazies. Patty Hearst Syndrome perhaps.

This time I psyched myself up for this inevitable feeling of loss and dedicated myself to the experience. For the first time I was able to almost wholly put my real life aside and be this other me for 60 hours.

As I drove around KI, in a car with lovely people who were just not as keen on constantly chatting as I tend to be, I was forced inside myself to some degree. Into the terrifying and liberating silence of my own head space. In that silence I was able to really see the scenery and experience Kangaroo Island for what I think it is. An idyllic speck of natural beauty where the noise and distractions of everyday life can be put aside and the mind really cleared.

I didn’t really think of anything profound; I just realised how noisy my brain really is and how much external stimulus is attacking my central nervous system every minute of every day. It is relentless and the quiet is actually painful to start with. It is a readjustment to be within myself, peacefully, without the bombardment of distraction which I am obviously addicted to.

And I had my photo taken with George Calombaris.

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Yes, I am that shallow. The end.

Getting away

Sometimes it’s the simple act of getting away that does the job. It doesn’t need to be a fancy and/or expensive holiday, just a change of scenery, a change of routine. All that’s needed to clear the brain and recharge the depleted batteries.

These last three days in Port Macquarie with our dear friends the Gs, staying with our dear friends the (other) Gs, who very conveniently purchased a beautiful, spacious home big enough to holiday house us all, has been just such a getaway.

A few days of chatting, walking, eating, drinking coffee and heckling The Voice (judges and contestants alike). There is something so wonderfully comfortable about hanging out with good friends; people who know and love you despite your annoying eccentricities…and you them. The silences are as comfortable and as warm as the conversation.

Our six children have known and played with each other since they were all babies and toddlers and watching their friendships continue and mature is so incredibly pleasurable and rewarding. They are each such different little people yet they are intrinsically bonded through a shared life history and through friendships forged in the sandpit. As I look at our beautiful children together I wish for them the special comfort and happiness of long term friendship.

I am grateful for such friendship in my life. It means so much.

This afternoon we will return to normal life, routine, responsibility. Which is just fine because I have been restored by our little getaway and by some peaceful time with some of my wonderful “besties”. Who could ask for more?