Saturday, April 11, 2009
A Functional - and Fun! - Family
We were a family all those years ago when we first worked together as a team. The cruise ship contract was the first job away from home for most of us and we became surrogate family members to and for each other very quickly. Nine months of rehearsals and performances and working together as cruise staff ("Join Jill on the Lido Deck for an exciting game of shuffleboard!") was a bonding experience like no other.
The reunion in England last week was fulfilling. The same loving and supportive chemistry was evident among our group of nine. Instead of booking a hotel, we stayed in an old, lovely country-style home with several rooms, located right on a marina. We stayed in mostly, making meals together from the food that had been ordered and delivered to the house, cleaning up together, and watching DVD's of our shows (transferred from ancient VHS tapes) in the living room with six couches.
The weather was perfect. We had sunshine everyday. I didn't use my umbrella once, or even the pair of gloves I had packed. White apple blossom petals were blowing in the breezes and yellow daffodils dotted the green hillsides. The English dancers teased this California boy for wearing his coat inside the slightly chilly (to me) kitchen.
All five of the women in our group have children, now, most of who were able to join us for part of the weekend along with a couple of the husband/fathers (the house was huge, there was plenty of room). After observing my former dance partners interacting with their children, I joked about how we dancer boys had been their practice children while we had been on the ship.
Maybe it's true. We needed a lot of attention back then, being dancers/actors/performer types (read: insecure). It felt good to see us all slide back into our familiar roles of family and friendship with each other, as if we had been apart for only a few months and not sixteen years. Even Jeanette, our former line captain, was still like the mother of our small group, being willing to organise and delegate any small tasks. Grantly was like our dad, taking an abundance of pictures of everyone hugging each other in our first joyful evening together and building a cozy fire every night in the living room.
We were a family once again for a few days, laughing over memories forgotten and brought up by others in the group. A few cathartic tears were even shed over emotional hardships from recent years. In our familiar and comforting chemistry with each other, we were all able to let our respective guards down and restrengthen the mutual bonds.
We were a family all those years ago, three American boys, four British girls, an Englishman, and one bonnie lass from Scotland. And we will continue to be so as much as we can, online and at the next reunion already being planned.