When I first booked my contract dancing on a cruise ship, one of the first things my friends asked was, “Are you and Narada going to stay together?” We both replied with a resounding "duh" and we honestly gave it a try.
Now I don’t want this becoming a full-on diary entry, so let’s just say things didn’t work out. And it got me thinking about ship life and what I want right now as a 25-year-old traveling dancer living in the middle of the ocean and how it affects my romantic relationships.
As soon as I left Orlando and made the three-hour trek down to rehearsals, those seven weeks already proved to be difficult on our relationship. We’d been together for two years and were sharing an apartment. We went from seeing each other every single day to having different schedules and not having that face-time we clearly needed to work through any issues that arose. Plus, I was adjusting to a new job, new cast, new everything. We were already feeling strained and we were in the same time zone at that point. The same state!
Then, I boarded the Adventure. We were in dry dock (which is stressful for a handful of reasons), had limited wifi, in the middle of installing three shows, and I was meeting interesting people left and right. If I thought I was distracted in Miami, my land life became the last thing on my mind once I joined the ship. It only took a few weeks for me to realize what I wanted out of this experience. I wanted to live a full out gypsy life (cue Lady Gaga).
I want to immerse myself in things that are happening in the present moment. I don’t want to say no to someone wonderful because I have someone back home. I want to be with someone I can physically touch. I want to be unapologetic and selfish while I’m young enough to be. I want to make my own plans and chase my dreams without consulting anyone else. I want to fall in love fast and say goodbye just as quickly. I want to be happy in my loneliness. I want to focus on myself and dance more and reach my personal goals and read books and find new friends to talk to into the wee hours of the night and not worry about texting my boyfriend back.
And then I want to take another contract and do it all again.
Don’t get me wrong. I believe that long distance relationships can work. Mad respect to those who do it. Maybe one day it will feel right for me. But for now, I needed to let go of the one I loved the most so that we can both put ourselves first. It feels like the only way I can really get the most out of this experience. It hasn’t been easy even though I probably sound very cavalier about it all. Believe me, I have my days. But it’s a sacrifice I’m willing to make for this experience.
You changed me for the better. Thank you for helping me grow, even still.