So, Jason and I are back from a cruise to the Caribbean, which excuses my extended blogging absence. It was fun, hot, luxurious, pricey, and without practical access to the internet. That doesn’t really make a good story, though, so I won’t bore you with every detail. (I’ve got photos of the cruise and ship if you’re interested.)
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One thing about the cruise that I thought that I would detest and actually didn’t mind at all was that I was almost always surrounded by people. There would be the occasional moment when I would be alone or nearly so when I’d get up and watch a sunrise, or when I’d just wander around the upper decks of the ship looking around, but for the most part, there were generally crew and passengers everywhere I looked and every place I went. That’s not even mentioning the swarms and crowds that were present at every port. But somehow this all did not set off any of my introversion alarms.
I imagine that I found all these people unusually tolerable because I didn’t have to interact with them. There were thousands of people on the ship, all doing their own thing. They were on vacation, and I was on vacation, and while we happened to be taking our vacations on the same gargantuan floating city with a population greater than most towns in Nebraska, they were fairly separate vacations. I’d see hundreds of random new people any given time I’d leave my room, and yet most of them I would never see again. I got to know some people from dinners and get-togethers and I’d see them around from time to time, but these cases were an unusual (though fun) exception.
None of that explains why I enjoyed having meals with randomly selected people, an experience that I assume is basically the same as Chatroulette with an all-you-can-eat menu in place of the graphic live nudity. If you’re on the “anytime dining” plan, you show up in one of the fancy dining rooms whenever you feel like it, and you can either eat by yourself or with friends, or alternately with whoever else seemed to be hungry at the time. I found that blind date meal plan to be strangely compelling. It fit the cruise concept of a shared vacation with total strangers perfectly, and while certainly not every person I met for a meal was interesting or insightful, it gave me a less terrifying way to meet people. I met a tattooed and pierced mother and daughter pair from England, an engineer for Ford, a mechanical engineer and his family from just outside Paris who spoke little English, and of course a whole slew of ultrarepublican retired people from Florida who go on a few Caribbean cruises a year. I’ll never see them again or talk to them again, but for some reason I enjoyed being forced to get to know them.
I’ve long assumed that I would find living in a big-city urban environment to be quite distasteful, and this overall pleasant experience has made me question that assumption. I will still, however, maintain for the record that I hate meeting new people and small talk and those sorts of things.