Romance at sea…A night to remember…

Last night, in the Martini Ice Bar on dress-up night.

Often the most memorable of occasions are those which we don’t plan or anticipate. Last night, was such a night, one we’ll always remember as special and meaningful.

Is it possible for a couple, together 25 years, constantly in each other’s presence 24 hours a day without any time apart, to find romance especially living a life as complex as ours?

The answer is a resounding “yes!” Last night was hardly the first time and will hardly be the last. Without forethought or active speculation, we each may contemplate the following points from time to time:

1. How do we manage to keep the spark alive in a long-term relationship?
2. Is keeping the romance intact necessary for happiness?

In response to the first question, we consider the facts that all couples have their own unique dynamic. Some thrive on chaos, disharmony, and ultimately making up and others flourish in a state of calm and consistency.  Then, there are all of those in between.

The Martini Ice Bar has an ice-covered bar top intended to keep drinks cold.

For us, the mix of an occasional visit by Mr. Overly Grumpy (rarely directed at me specifically) and my Ms. Overly Bubbly (always lurking), seems to create enough tension to make the relationship challenging and exciting, never knowing for sure what the day will bring. 

The lack of knowing moment by moment exactly what to expect has a magical way of presenting opportunities for lively banter, playfulness, including hilarious name-calling and frequent laughter precipitated by our own foibles and occasional self-deprecation.

Humility plays a big role for us, but oddly, it’s coupled with a keen sense of confidence while feeling secure, safe, and revered.  Trust is omnipresent, never faltering. How do relationships survive without trust? They don’t.

In response to the second question; many couples say they are utterly happy without romance. I’d assume, most often, they are couples who never made romance a priority early on in the relationship. Many lifelong partnerships are happily maintained without romance with only an occasional celebratory situation bringing it back into the forefront.

For us, the eyes locking across the room while we’re at a social occasion has always made our hearts flutter.  Tom, who swears he’s not romantic, has a side few others can detect, where he makes “overly romantic” me know I made the right choice in my remaining-years-of-life love and companion.

For me, romance is not about the occasional bouquet of flowers or a gift, wrapped in pink tissue in a “Victoria’s Secret” bag. It has nothing to do with a candlelit dinner with a crisp white linen tablecloth, fine dinnerware, and a fancy meal. 

Patricia, the lovely woman we met last night at the bar traveling with her 18-year-old daughter.

It has everything to do with a state of mind encompassed in finding your partner appealing both in both their imperfect physical state of being and their imperfect mental state of being, whatever that may be and however that may fluctuate as the years waft by and everything changes.

Can we love and accept the wrinkles and belly fat wrought by age and lifestyle and still see the beauty and handsomeness of what appealed to us in the first place so long ago? If yes, that’s romantic in itself. 

From this perspective, last night we found ourselves late in getting to dinner on “lobster night” after engaging in a lengthy fabulous conversation with a delightful woman we met from Costa Rica (where we’ll be living for three months in 21 months), at the Ice Bar on Deck 4, our usual hangout before heading to usual reservation-free dinner (never wanting to feel pinned down to a specific time).

Realizing we should arrange a reservation for the lobster night, the only available times were 5:30 or 8:45 pm.  We chose the latter, preferring not to dine so early in the evening.  (I’d actually had a light breakfast anticipating a late meal knowing food wouldn’t arrive until 9:15 or later).

After considerable fun at the bar, we said goodbye and headed to check-in for the reservation at 8:30, hoping to get in a little earlier. Given a pager, it was impossible to get a “shared” table so we decided to wait for the beeper.

My dinner last night; a Cobb Salad with chicken and two lobster tails.

By 9:00 pm, we were seated as the only patrons at a table for seven. As always, in consideration of others, we decided to wait to order until the table was full. Our usual playfulness and banter had started between us while at the bar, if not earlier in the day.

As we sat alone at that table with not another person or couple seeking a shared table entering the restaurant after us, we finally resigned ourselves along with our wonderful waiter Kundeep, that we should order dinner and proceed with the evening. 

From there, the fun between us escalated, the compliments flew back and forth, the knee grabbing under the table elicited fits of laughter, all the while holding hands, staring dreamily into each other’s eyes. I don’t drink alcohol and Tom had very few cocktails. It wasn’t alcohol talking. It was happiness. It was love. It was romance.

We hardly noticed our food although it seemed to disappear off our plates. The cruise line’s head food manager stopped by to say hello and giggled when he asked if we were newlyweds and we answered that we’d been together almost 25 years but are happier now than ever, in this life we live.

Tom’s dinner last night of Beef Wellington and lobster tail with veggies.

Our wonderful waiter gabbed with us. The hostess that oversees my food stopped by along with several other staff members and managers, perhaps noting we were alone at the big table needing some attention. We didn’t. We appreciated it nonetheless. 

The hours whizzed by and finally, it was time to leave. It was late and we decided to head back to our cabin, unable to wipe the coy smiles off our faces. No one ever joined us at our table. We didn’t care.

This morning, renewed and refreshed after a great night’s sleep, we still can’t stop smiling. Perhaps, the special evening further reminded us of how lucky we are, how blessed we are, and how much we appreciate each other and this peculiar life we live. 

It’s ironic that one of the most fun evenings we’ve had aboard the ship was spent alone at dinner together, reveling in this gift we’ve been given to enjoy our lives, fully engaged in the moment and…in the next moment to come. Who could ask for more?

For today, with only two days to disembarkation, once again we’re enjoying every moment left on the ship with the same enthusiasm we expect we’ll be feeling in a few days living in our new home in the Taranaki Region of New Zealand. Life is good. And, at times, life is romantic.

Darn, I should have saved this story for Valentine’s Day which is four weeks from today! Then again, we don’t need a Hallmark-inspired day to make us happy!

Photo from one year ago today, January 17, 2015:

We were excited to arrive in Kauai, Hawaii for a four-month stay in Princeville. Little did we know how much we’d love the island with a robust social life thanks to our new friend Richard Turner, whom we met only a few days after arrival. For more details, please click here.

Comments and responses Romance at sea…A night to remember…

  1. Anonymous

    Aloha Jess & Tom!
    I don't pop up much to say hi, but still love seeing all your adventures. It's amazing it's a whole year since you landed on our little island…and now I get the added pleasure of seeing a familiar 'year ago' photo at the end of each new post! 🙂
    I noted that your Alaska Inside Passage cruise is booked. We had a fabulous time on a cruise from Juneau to Seattle last August. Our first trip to Alaska, but definitely not the last. We had a wonderful experience from start to finish. We spent a couple of nights in Juneau exploring that area before we boarded, and also visited some friends in Seattle at the end of our trip. It was the longest (3 weeks) we'd been away from the island (and the first time out of state for Steve) since we moved here in 2012. Evidently, the island life suits us! 🙂
    I was particularly excited to see humpback whales feeding, since we never see that behavior here in the islands, where they come only to mate and raise their calves.
    We were on a very small vessel, so we mostly harbored in tiny bays and smaller ports than the larger ships use. However, we also stopped in Juneau and Ketchikan. I think you mentioned you stop there, if so I can let you have a few recommendations.
    I'm also interested in your Costa Rica plans. We're thinking of combining a week on land and a week's cruise, maybe in 2017, but I haven't started investigating the land portion yet. Looking forward to that!
    So, as another new year here gets going without you this time, island life goes on much the same, I'm happy to report. We survived an unusually high number of hurricane warnings last year. Most of the state escaped (sadly, a small corner of Hawaii Island got hit hard). Of course, the laysan albatross and the humpbacks are back. I can hear albatross whistling outside as I write! 🙂 Not so many nests in our area as last year, but then the numbers last year were very high, and there's talk that perhaps the record El Niño weather is causing a reduction in food resources resulting in less nesting this year…nature is amazing!
    If you feel your ears burning next Saturday (well, Sunday for you!!), it will be us chatting about you with Richard and others as we gather for our Full Moon party next weekend.
    Warmest wishes from us both – Louise & Steve

  2. Jessica

    Dearest Louise & Steve,
    We are thrilled to hear from you! We had no idea you were reading our posts and we're delighted to know you're traveling along with us. I read your comment aloud to Tom and we both giggled over how long it had been since Steve got off the island. Its easy to understand. Kauai remains with South Africa as our favorite places in the world for socializing and of course, its unique beauty, wildlife and vegetation.

    Please write anytime! I'm sending you an email with a few comments about Costa Rica.

    Warmest regards to you both!
    Jess & Tom

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