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.

11 comments:

Chris said...

Sounds fun, Pete. Aren't friends grand?

quin browne said...

this proves family can be of the heart...and dna isn't always necessary.

the Constantly Dramatic One said...

Friends are the best.

I miss mine back in Malaysia =(

golfwidow said...

I like most of my friends more than some of my family.

Lori said...

I'm so glad you got to go. What a great trip. I want pictures!

KK said...

Oh this sounds like such a fantastic trip, Peter! I'd love to do something like this one day. Any more pics? Lots of hugs and love to you. KK

Michael DeAntonio said...

That sounds wonderful. I'm glad you got the opportunity to reunite.

Louise Larsen said...

You guys need to film your next reunion! It sounds like new translation of Chekhov!

Even the apple blossoms were in bloom!

Hugs -- Louise

movindowntheroad said...

I experienced this, having worked on ranches in the summers, it was like family. J is on a ship right now in Europe, just for two more weeks. Then he goes to a club on land...I was surprised to learn that people keep to themselves. He was hanging with some ice skating couple but they keep to themselves too (the only other Americans on the ship). You are lucky it was such a great time for you. He's pretty alone on this one. (but he gets to use the spa and gets off the ship every day for a few hours and is getting paid a killing) Oh, Hi!!!!

Brett & Shelly Faucett said...

Wow Peter what a wonderful story and what amazing friends you have. Love abounds. It is great to hear things like this. It gives me hope. Love Brett

Cheryl said...

Old friends are the best. Yeah, I want some then-and-now pics too!