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Day 3: Fences

Woke up at 5:40AM to an already daylit room. After contemplating another couple of hours of sleep, I pulled on the Lululemon joggers I am not yet ready to admit that I enjoy wearing and chose the top floor on the elevator bank closest to our cabin.

Up there, two workers hoisted huge hoses to clean the deck, while I had to throw my body weight against the door to get it opened in the wind. Outside, I realized this wasn’t going to be the casual meditative spot I’d imagined. Instead, the ship is engulfed in fog and light - making it seem like we’re stuck in a cloud.

The fog horn blares every once in awhile. It sounds romantic but also reminds me of the woman at the Purser’s Office whom I overheard yesterday begging for another cabin because of the intensity of the horn.

After breakfast, I depart for foil fencing lessons. There, I meet Gail, who will invite me on a biking cruise in Europe, and John, who wants to know if I’ll turn up at the dance club later. John is about three decades older than me, and I suspect we are both interested in checking out the guys there.

Foil fencing is everything I’d hoped and also physically intense. I emerge from the mask a red-faced sweaty disaster, but so pleased with myself for the 45-minute exertion. After excitedly running back to gather my mom, we return to the Queen’s Room where the swords are gone and instead dozens of white people wait for a British man to begin teaching us American country line dancing.

It’s far more fun than I’d expected, and mom is into it, too. We sashay around learning four different routines, none of which I’ll fully remember by day’s end. But worth the while, and mom wants to return.

We check in with customs as directed, and the entire event consists of scanning our room keys and chit chatting with a customs agent who asks how long we’ll be in England and nothing more.

Lunch is an inglorious affair consisting of yet another cheeseburger for mom, at her request, and a couple slices of pizza for me.

Next up was a program on hurricanes, which was led by a capable and entertaining man whose voice was so melodic that at least 20% of the audience was fully asleep 15 minutes into the session.

We return to the room for some reading and rest, until around 5pm I am antsy and need to go wander. The room may or may not have a bit of mold, and my eyes are unhappy with spending time there; I wake each morning with bloodshot eyes, something that has not happened since my drinking days.

I try first a lounger at the very back of the ship, but the wind and mist and cool drive me back indoors, where I listen to a musical duo play the Eagles while doing what I shouldn’t - checking work email.

Dinner is at the Verandah, a steakhouse where we are unable to finish the “trio of meats for two” or the strawberry pavlova I insist we order. We overhear a neighboring couple boasting to others about how much they travel and are beginning to wonder if I there’s an underground of all of these people who seem to constantly be cruising, according to them.

We attend an Irish singer’s concert, much to the delight of mom. He repeatedly mentions his father’s death, and I think about how we all reveal what concerns us most if someone listens.

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