I knew it had to be a big boat. It had to have a strong engine to take us where we wanted to go, into new territory. It had to have an engine that thrummed, a handsome prow, and dark wood decking. It had to have a swimming pool with water peacock blue. It had to have portholes rimmed with mahogany. There had to be a high black railing over which you could lean, down, down, down, beneath you the sea, chock full of starfish and crab. We sailed on this sea, the first “gay family cruise” we pulled out of port on a Sunday, our spirits high, the ship’s flag snapping smartly in the breeze.
I had just come from making a movie. I’d been away filming for five weeks, a movie directed by Angelica Huston. A fun filled crew, and amazing role to play - artistic bliss. I’d come straight from the plane, to this ship, my hair a mess, permed and burned and red neck mullet-esq.
There were 1600 people waiting to board the ship. The line was half a mile long. I stood on the doc, holding Viv, because Kel was already on the ship, had been for hours, preparing. Ususally she would be the one to hold Viv. Viv always chooses Kel, and although it hurts my feelings a little, I know it’s my turn to be second. So I am.
But on the boat, the whole notion of second, or first, or third, fell away. There was a certain freedom. Right from the start it felt special. We felt like discoverers, explorers, seeing what lay on the other side of the horizen. We knew, all of us, that family has a wider meaning than most thought. Families are adventures, conglomerates held together not only by blood, but by desire, by common humanity. Mostly, we wanted to sail on the high seas, and decalre ourselves – here we are – and see how our presence might change the landscape we all live on together.
The cruise was one of the best things I have ever done in my life. It was truly magical – in the way Disneyworld promises, but isn’t. As soon as I stepped onboard, I knew I was home, and it had taken me a long long time to get here. There had been many mountains and missed paths. But I was indisputibly here now, with my whole extended family, my tribe.
I heard the groan of the boat as it pulled away from the port, and then we were out in the water. I looked up to see the bottom of the Brooklyn bridge. Later, I saw a dolphin swimming alone, like a man in a serious suit. But mostly what I saw were the people, my people, an equisite photograph even as they moved. I saw two buff boys in speedos smearing sunscreen like mayo on their tiny newborn. I saw women holding hands, and dark babies on bright white laps. I saw a child who was albino, her hair like floss, her eyes pure points of pink that reached up and grabbed my soul. I saw two newly wed women snuggling their brood of four, each from their own exotic land. Like the UN or a Benneton ad.
When we pulled into the Bahamas we were greeted by a sad gaggle of protestors, holding mis spelled placards of ignorance and shame. Claiming god was theirs and we were not worthy. I made me sad, and shocked still, to see people who thought our connection was bad, immoral. We are falling through space alone. TS Elliot said “connect, only connect,” and he was right.
One day, We anchored in the middle of the warm waxy ocean, beauty and babies all around. In the water I was weightless, I felt free.
My best friends Jeannie and Jackie were there. They’re not gay. Jeannie is pregnant; Jackie’s got four kids of her own. At one point we were all sitting in my fifty by fifty foot bedroom, and the chair beneath pregnant Jeanie broke; it cracked and split and we laughed; we couldn’t stop. We laughed until tears came out of our eyes and our faces were sweaty and red, and I thought I would pee my pants. I squeezed my thighs as tightly as a could then shoved my hand between my legs as if – to stop that tiny trickle of tinkle. Yes I am now officially at the age where I need a depends. Get me laughing and I am leaking. Enough said. Jeannie. Jackie. They are childhood friends and with them I am absolutely utterly myself, tear streaked and red faced, huffing and squeezing.
I care about families. I care about kids. I don’t care who or what they are, just that they live with dignity. Gay and straight. Big and small.
On the last day of the cruise two Long Island women with big hair and accents came up to me. “Listen Rosie,” they said. “We have to tell you something.”
“What?” I said, and they leaned towards me.
“We didn’t come on this cruise ‘cause we were gay. We became because we’re fat, and we knew on this ship, no one would make fun of us by the pool. Next year, we’re bringing our husbands and kids. This was the best trip of our friggin lives.”
And then they went away. I felt a tightness in my throat, salt, the sea air, grief and gladness together. Grief that there can be so much hate inside us and outside us, gladness that even in the midst of that we can find a way to travel together.
was that easier to follow
the way u r used to
commas and capitals
sweetly spell checked
these are not poems
she said again
to no one at all