Sunday, December 5, 2010


What was it like the day you left home to join the ship?

May 12th. The day that will live in infamy; the date burned in my mind. The day I left home.

Last everythings were over – last night in Dali, last supper, last walk on the dike, last bike ride, last good-byes… last ride on our bus. Am I ready? Ready to leave? Not only Dali, but Hong Kong, and my childhood. I’m leaving the only life I’ve known. It’s over.

Alone. I was out on my own, and I was alone. I had to stand in a horrid line, waiting to scan my bags, just out of conversation reach with my family. It was a torturous 45 min. where I could see them and they could see me, but they were on the other side of the barrier. I can see them, even now, standing there, and I knew full well that that would be my last picture of them, burned in my memory. Plenty of time to think about what I was doing going away and not going to see them for two years. I was glad whenever the line of tall, imposing Americans blocked my view of my family's somber faces as they waited to make sure I made it through ok. I tried not to look. I had to be strong. I could not cry; I was in a line with people all around me, and anyway my makeup would smear. Then my bags went through, I grabbed them up quickly, and took one last look back willing myself to see over the scanner and all the heads, and attempting a smile so they would know I was okay. And then I was gone.

As I boarded the steps to the plane, I looked back over my shoulder and somehow knew that this was it. I had left childhood behind forever. Then I turned, and with feigned confidence took a step forward.

What was it like to travel to the ship?
The roads here are not unlike the ones in Hong Kong - only that we can drive for longer. The narrow cement blocks making the median... the way the trees look... the frequent overpasses and exit/entry ramps... the blue signs over the road... the sound barriers and the graffiti on the sound barriers and on the back of all the signs.
I can't stay awake so I try to sleep, leaning my head against the window curtains. Every time the bus slows or turns a sharp corner I nearly fall off. I am jerked awake and have to work hard to keep from falling off my seat.
Half in a daze I stare out the window at the picture perfect German cottages we are passing. I guess... it is sort of like I thought Germany would be.
I try to imagine the silent woods haunted by the ghostly figures of concentration camp prisoners marching, marching... Up till now, that was the only picture of Germany I knew.

What was your first impression of the ship?
It was smaller than I thought it would be.

What was/were the first day/s on the ship like?

When did you first feel at home on the ship? (Did you feel at home on the ship?)
Home is not a familiar place, home is a mental decision. The ship was home to me before we even arrived because I knew that's where I was going to be.

What advice would you give someone joining the ship now?

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