Thursday, February 27, 2014

Course Corrections

The Mojito be a
harsh mistress.
I learned many things on our big gay cruise. Some things were totally new to me, like Mojitos. Other things were more what I'd characterize as "course corrections"; slight adjustments to the way I've been viewing the world.

For example, despite my newfound love for Mojitos, I learned it is possible to go overboard. (Not literally overboard. Although I suppose that's possible too. The Mojito, much like the sea or a heckled drag queen, can turn on you in an instant.) I learned this is when to switch to beer.

A more important lesson I took home is that I way too often let my introversion get the better of me. I learned this while lounging at the back pool – excuse me, aft pool – when my partner, JB, brought over a handsome guy packing a speedo and introduced him as "our neighbor, Jeff".

My mind immediately went to the cabins on either side of ours. But I'd already met those neighbors. To our left were the couple that reminded me of half of the cast of "The Hangover". (Not the Bradley Cooper, Justin Bartha half.)

To our right was the older, heavyset gentleman that breathed heavily taking the elevator and never wore bottoms on his balcony. (They really need to extend those balcony partitions out further.)

Maybe JB meant our across-the-hall neighbor. I hadn't run into those guys yet, although I'd heard them arguing. A lot.

"No," JB corrected me. "Jeff lives in our condo building, on the third floor!"

And there, somewhere between The Bahamas and the Greater Antilles, I met someone I've been living 100 feet away from for years.

I wondered how it could be possible I've never run into this stud before.

But I already knew the truth, that I surely must have met Jeff before. A nod of acknowledgment on the elevator or in the lobby as we get our mail. Idling behind him as we wait for the parking gate to slowly open. Basking in the sun at the condo pool, just like we're doing now, but on opposite sides of the pool deck.

I suddenly felt stupid and ashamed for never having introduced myself to him before now. Or many of the other nameless faces that reside in one of our building's thirty-seven units. How emotionally inaccessible and self-absorbed I've been.

The next morning I went early to the pool and found Jeff already kicking back. I set up on the deck chair next to his and we started talking.

This wasn't the forced kind of small talk that triggers my social anxiety. There would often be long stretches of quiet when we'd each drift into our own thoughts. There was no sense of awkwardness and no pressure to fill the silence. Other times we'd be laughing and talking over ourselves, each trying to beat the other to the punchline. Eventually, after waiting until it felt more like noon than morning (around ten-ish) we started buying each other beers.

For four hours that morning I got to know a little about Jeff. Barely scratching the surface, I suspect. During one of our quiet moments, with my eyes closed and my face turned up to the sun, I thought about my life back home a thousand miles away, and I wondered... how many other awesome people do I pass in the hall without a second thought? Or on the elevator, in the lobby, pool or parking lot? Every single day?

And right then, at the start of our second day at sea, I made a course correction.

Panoramic view of the aft "infinity" pool at sunrise.


  1. Great post Patrick and fantastic point.

  2. It's never too late to meet your "hey neighbors". I just met and had a long chat with my neighbors who have the loud sex.....