Ok, so I don't get it. I'm leaving tomorrow, driving to Charleston, and embarking on a lovely, week-long cruise to the Caymans, Cozumel, and Key West. My best friend is taking me along on this cruise as a graduation gift. I honestly don't get it (even as I love it). If I had enough money at my disposal to pay for TWO cruises, I'd be off in a flash to Italy. By myself, if necessary. I wouldn't be giving my best friend the gift of a lifetime. I'm just not that good. I mean it. She is GOOD PEOPLE.
Cheryl is. She has been my best friend since 1981. She has seen me through some of the ugliest times of my life, and she still loves me. She has stood by me, worrying and celebrating and whatever was called for, for 27 years now. I never knew someone besides God could possibly love me for 27 years. Maybe my mother. She died when I was 47, and I think she loved me all those years. So I guess there's hope.
Cheryl isn't so different from me: she loves her stuff. As soon as she sheds tons of stuff, she sets about accumulating more. Just like me. As we said on the phone the other day: It's cute, it fits (literally and/or metaphorically), it's cheap -- so we buy it. And Cheryl, like me, has stuff that holds precious memories for her, so she hangs on to it. I bet she hasn't even taken 90% of her books off the shelf in 10 years (like me!) -- but they have a symbolism that connects to who she perceives herself to be, or memories connected to certain times and people, so she hangs on to them. Sigh. We both probably need MORE therapy in that vein. But still.
Cheryl also has this very healthy non-attachment that I admire and seek to emulate. If the cat pees on her loveseat, and can't be broken of it, she gets rid of the loveseat. Eventually she finds one the cat doesn't like, or she goes without a love seat for a while. If my dog chews my sofa, I cry and rant and rave before I finally can figure out a solution, or let go of the sofa and get a new one (that the dog doesn't chew). I feel personally affronted and assaulted by the chewing dog.
Cheryl is also a relatively careful spender and saver (despite that tendency above -- it fits, it's cheap, it's cute, etc.). She is very practical. She'll probably retire in great style. I hope she'll buy a villa in Italy and invite me there twice a year. But she is also the most generous giver that I've ever met. It's not just to me. I've seen what she gives to others -- not just for gifts, but also paying for art work, etc. She has less attachment to her money and her stuff than I've ever seen. I can only look on in awe and try to live up to it.
This time, it's the cruise I mentioned yesterday. She wanted to get me a nice graduation gift (from the Haden Institute that I finished in January) -- a gift of time we could spend together. We began to look at spa weekends that we could share as girlfriends. I LOVED the idea, but was being extremely cheap, given that I'm trying to save for a sabbatical (2-3 months) in Italy in the next year or two. I remarked that for the prices that nice "residential" spas were asking, we could take a cruise together -- and it grew from there.
So tomorrow I leave for Charleston (where we will depart together). The kennel, the sea-sick medications ($50!!, even with prescription coverage), the house-sitter, are all in place. I am wild with excitement. I was up at 4:30 am today packing and thinking, writing and making lists. My pedicure (so cute) was Tuesday, and my manicure (matching) was today. I used those hours between 5:30 and 8:30 productively -- all my stuff is packed into the allotted space, with even a little bit to spare! At 8 am tomorrow I drop off the dogs at the kennel (house-sitter is for the cat), and hit the road for Charleston.
Am I excited? Oh, yeah. I assume I'll sleep tonight, unlike last night. Given the weather here, a big box fan might help, since I like my sleeping space very cool (someone, cat or dog, chewed through the cord of my latest one). But I'm all ready. And further abundance: I am getting a great new (used) camera. My old one is broken. I tried to use it again today, and it just won't work. So I have this great opportunity for one twice as good, and Cheryl has procured it for me! I still have to buy a couple of accessories, but not to worry. I'll soon be posting exquisite pictures of the turquoise waters of the Caribbean, etc. Stay tuned.
I even got "seasick patches" from my doctor. I got enough for the whole trip, though I suspect I'll only need them once (the excursion to the Mayan ruins). But this is a smaller ship, so who knows?
I was stressed out enough to day to skip both my run and my yoga class. Stress makes me act LESS healthy -- why???
Anyway, I'm ready! And I'm amazed at this kind of "non-attachment" to money that my friend has (I want to talk with her about this, and learn fromr it, and imitate it). I feel as though I'm essentially a selfish person, and I want to learn to be otherwise.
Probably I won't post from the ship's Internet Cafe, as I think the prices are probably outrageous. But who knows? My friend, intrepid as she is at these things, has negotiated for some delicious on-board credits -- perhaps they'll allow me to post from on-board ship, showing you wonderful tropical delights! If not, see you all in a week!