My sister was a way-too-mature 22-year-old ridden with a princess complex, so she was unimpressed when I signed my first contract with Orca Cruises.
I watched her wave me goodbye along with the rest of my family. I could see the hints of my dad's slowly balding scalp reflect the sunlight, while my mom's long, inky-black hair absorbed it.
There were only three of them, my very little family.
They took the money they didn't have and planned a vacation to New York, a place they would've never had visited if not I took this eight-month contract.
And in an overplayed irony I'm used to, my family planned a vacation around me that they will spend together without me.
But I'm totally fine with that. I can't stay in a room with them for longer than a couple of minutes without confronting anxiety.
There are no words to describe the relief I feel inside knowing it will be a very long time before I see my family again.
As my parents and sister begin to shrink in my vision, the ship blew the first of three very long horns, signaling our departure.
Once the last horn blew, I stopped waving and pulled away from the railing. The goodbye was over and now it was time to head back to my cabin.
I wasn't on shift until later and I'm thankful because I need to decompress after last night. We had our 'last family dinner of the year' at some over-authentic pizza joint.
It reminded me of two things. One, after 25 years of living, they still haven't cared to retain the fact that I hate pizza. It makes me gassy.
And two, I did not want them to follow me to New York, which was the point of being 900 miles away in the first place.
900 miles away is what my cabin felt like, though. I'm on the largest boat in Orca Cruises, the Baliene Bleue. It's over 200 feet wide and around 1,200 feet long...
and my cabin is nowhere close to where I stand now. Fuck me honestly. Taking the scenic route, I passed what seemed like an entire universe around me.
From so many restaurants, bars, and shops, it felt like I was in the middle of Universal's CityWalk, except there were more options and they were all more exaggerated,
and there were water slides. So, so many water slides and pools and parks and they even had zip lines.
Disrespectful. That's all I thought about it.
"Why do you think that?" Emma asked me. She was a Belgium girl I worked with at the Scottsdale and was also my cabin mate.
"Why have all that extra shit on a boat? And why have a boat this big? The largest in the world, but why? So we can ride bikes over water parks?" I ranted.
Emma shrugged her shoulders as she listened to me.
"I mean, you can do all those things on land, why do it on a boat?"
"Because people like to be extra. They're materialistic and want to feel luxe," Emma answered me, but I shook my head at the truth.
"It takes away from the true meaning of sailing out at sea."
"It's beautiful. Everything about it is beautiful," I paused, "Being out at sea, everything around you is being moved by the energy of the ocean.
Underneath us is an entire ecosystem of life moving rapidly, aimlessly, and together all at once.
The spirit of the moon dances with the spirit of the water's waves, and at night every single star will be revealed... but everyone's distracted on boats like these.
" I climbed into my stuffy top bunk above Emma.
"There's so much noise and the size of this boat is unnecessary... The Earth did not intend for man to sail its oceans, especially not with massive 230-ton boats."
"Wow, you have strong feelings about this! So why'd you apply for the job?" Emma asked from below. With my face up to the ceiling, her voice felt further away.
"I'm broke." I simply put it.
"That's... relatable," Emma said slowly.
"Also the agency stuck me here. If I had a choice I would've gone for the Orque. Now that boat has class! Not just a trashy 'fun boat'." I tell her.
"I see," Emma nodded off her sleepiness, "So that's why you like this job? You wanted a life out on the sea?" She was trying to summarize our conversation, but I ruined the closing.
"Absolutely not totally why."
I could feel her face scrunch up.
"Then what is it?"
"You don't wanna know," I try to steer her away but curiosity takes her.
"Tell me why!" She began kicking up the bunk bed with her feet.
"Okay!" I rolled to let my head hang over the side of the bed. I looked at her straight in the eyes.
"I'm absolutely obsessed with shipwrecks." When I said it, Emma's eyes widened and she took her pillow in her hands and hit me straight in the face.
"No! Absolutely none of that! You were right! I don't want to know!" Emma turned over on her stomach and covered her head with her pillow, canceling out all sound.
Rolling my eyes, I picked myself up and fell back in the bed to lay down.
"Yeah, yeah I told ya so."
I heard Emma beneath me shuffle in her bed.
"What's your name again?" She asked me and I smile at her short memory.
"Sophie." And I'm just a weirdo.
A loser attracted to shipwrecks and all surface disasters of the sea with a knack for getting people drunk and spilling all their personal details, life stories, and dreams.
That's what it meant to be me, Sophie Monet.