Monday, July 21, 2008

All At Sea

I have a lot of very trashy loves. For instance, I am obsessed with RV living. I love the idea of a house on wheels that can go anywhere. It must be the gypsy in me. Houseboats have a similar appeal. My soul is restless and on the move, so it makes sense that I desire a home that moves with me. Last year I bought a house. And not just a house but too much house for one person. It came with a piano, perfect to match my increasingly unwieldy furniture. I think psychologically I am trying to force myself to stay put, tether myself to the earth with heavy objects so I can’t float away. Be that as it may, I had plenty of time to muse on my personal psychology as I left my piano and house and unfinished patio behind and headed to the Norwegian Dawn for a seven day sailing up the coast of New England to Canada.

Five weeks ago, Rosie O’Donnell came on the radio show to promote the True Colors Tour. While on the air she spontaneously invited us to go on the R Family Vacations cruise in July. It was all so sudden! And it conflicted with my planned trip to Southern California for San Diego Pride and to visit my family. But how do you say no to Rosie? “I’ll be standing on the dock waiting for you. You better be there!” she told us. It didn’t sound like the kind of invitation you turn down unless you like looking over your shoulder for the rest of your life. So, off we went to Canada.

First I had to get a new passport. My old passport that had taken me to Europe and Japan expired last year and since then had been sitting in my “to-do” pile. Suddenly, I had a very urgent need to get a new one. The old photo I had made me look like a terrorist, albeit a young one. So I was concerned about how much older I would look in a photo that was nearly identical except for the intervening eleven years. I promise that there is no easier way to see how you have aged that to put two passport photos side by side. Disheartening to say the least. Having just come off of weeks of pride events, the biggest non-age change was that for the next decade I will be tan.

We set sail on Sunday on the Norwegian Dawn, a beautiful ship. Fortunately, my cabin was way down on the 5th floor, seven decks below and on the opposite side of the ship from the all-you-can-eat buffet. My last cruise in 2006, my cabin was one short staircase away from the buffet and seven days later I had gained fifteen pounds. This time I followed my new friend Ross Mathews’ advice and took the stairs. The few pounds I gained by the end were gone a few days later when my eating habits returned to normal back on dry land. I think I was also helped by the fact that the soft serve ice cream machine was broken. I cursed it at first but in retrospect, I realize now it was a waistband blessing in disguise.

The ship landed in several ports of call but I skipped a few. I missed our first stop in Canada but made a point of disembarking on the second (and last) Canadian port because I had never been to Canada before. After all I went through to get that new passport I was determined to get a new stamp on it. Back stateside, I wandered aimlessly through Bar Harbor (got a blueberry soft serve cone there) and made a brief return to Provincetown that was just long enough to prove to myself that nothing much had changed there in the past seven years. The boat docked finally in Newport, but not even more stately mansions could wrest me from my stateroom where an umpteenth airing of Space Cowboys on TBS and room service happily occupied my lazy afternoon.

Finally I returned back to New York on Sunday. I was the fifth person off the boat, working every angle I could to get out of there as quickly as possible and avoid the crush of strollers and wheelchairs. I loved life on the high seas. The endless food in a floating city is a dream come true, even if it was probably not the best place to be mere days after watching Wall-E. But in a recurring theme in this blog, I need to return to reality in the end. Someday I will just sail away and never come back. But for now, I have made a rooted life for myself and it is sailing its own course, a journey into the unknown, even though the gypsy in me feels as though I am forever in the same place.

VIDEO: Ross Mathews' Blog with Derek on, Ross on the banister on
PHOTOS: Click here to see pictures from my R Family Vacations cruise on


CW said...

Can you play the piano and will we ever be able to see you perform on Youtube? You may enjoy the Michel Camilo:

Kenneth Walsh said...

This is so fun!

She's so generous with that cruise -- have you seen her give 'em away on TV and on her vlog to every gay trainwreck from "America Idol" and "Intervention"?

I hope you can sing or are at least a tina whore. I'd hate to think you got it just for being a cool guy.