I’m a semi-adventurous chick. That means that I’m used to flying off on my own to far-flung destinations, yet I like the safety of organized tours. I’m known to leave family and home behind to go exploring the world on my own.
However, it was with mixed feelings that I prepared to attend my 25th year high school reunion. The Cardinals were due to get together again. Destination? A cruise to The Bahamas. Worlds were going to collide, and I wasn’t sure how it would all turn out.
Let me explain. I firmly believe in different types of vacations. There are vacations that you take with your Boo, and vacations that are family oriented. Some vacations are best enjoyed with a group of people whom you generally know before-hand, while some trips are girls or guys only.
Other vacations are research-related and designed to get it all in where you can fit it all in. And, solo vacations are always on deck. So, the word vacation means different things to me depending on where, and for what purpose, I’m traveling.
If you’ve read my post on planning a trip to a large metropolis, you realize that most of my vacations aren’t really relaxing by general standards. However if you’ve read the Welcome to Jamrock post, you know that I finally learned the true meaning of relaxing while on vacation.
My usual mode of vacationing is taking land tours. So I wasn’t sure how I would enjoy the reunion vacation simply because it was a cruise. On a cruise, I would get much less time to spend on land (obviously) and wouldn’t be able to avail myself of my usual lengthy, local culture immersion activities. I wouldn’t get to see much of our destination country beyond what could be found in our port city of Nassau.
On the other hand, a cruise represented one “hotel room” which eliminated the typical land tour inconvenience of needing to re-pack everything every few days to move on to the next city.
On this trip worlds threatened to collide because this was an unusual vacation, even by all my standards:
It wasn’t my typical solo trip because my non-alumni husband was going.
- My husband coddles and spoils me, which is the opposite of my independent and self-sufficient personality on non-Boo and non-family trips.
- The cruise was a, well, cruise as opposed to a land tour.
- It was a group trip where I generally knew everyone, but I hadn’t seen most of the people in at least five years.
- My best friend, whom I don’t get to see that much, was going; yet I knew that it might be hard to spend quality time with both her and my husband. This wouldn’t be a zany all-girls trip, similar to our vacation to Las Vegas earlier in the year.
- A cousin whom I rarely see was attending, and I wanted to spend time with him, too.
- To top it all off, I had to juggle how to fit in reunion events, shore excursions, some research, and spend time with my fellow Cardinals.
Skipping to the end, I was exhausted as usual when I came back from vacation; but it was one of the best trips I’ve ever taken. While only a small fraction of our 400-plus graduates made the trip, we partied
like it’s 1989 like there were many more of us on the trip than were.
When you graduate from a high school that has a majority Black population, with the most hilarious group of people who ever walked the halls, there won’t be a time during the reunion when you’re not laughing. There were many times that I laughed so hard, I couldn’t help but cry.
Challenges to plank in the most ridiculous places (atrium elevators, in the city of Nassau, on pool tables in use by others, and in front of the lounge piano player during his show) and to do poses holding a Dos Equis beer bottle (photos purposely omitted) provided opportunities for side-splitting laughter the entire trip.
Laughing at each other’s table manners (whose hand got slapped by the bread server for reaching for the rolls with their bare hand again?) and playing in/watching the Spades Tournament were another source of hilarity.
When you graduate from a high school that has a majority Black population, with the most hilarious group of people who ever walked the halls, there won’t be a time during the reunion when you’re not laughing.
By the end of the trip, EVERYONE on the cruise ship knew our group. It might have been the way we took over the nightclub dressed in all white on our “all white night.” It could have been the custom-made T-shirts that we proudly wore which displayed our Cardinal mascot, the name of our high school, and our home town.
I think the real reason we were popular was because we made a point to bless the other cruise guests nightly with our karaoke skills. We were so popular that two separate friends in two different states told me that their respective friends happened to be on the same cruise, described our group, and mentioned how much fun we seemed to have with one another.
By the end of the trip, EVERYONE on the cruise ship knew our group.
As we sang “We Are Family” at karaoke, our familial ties strengthened in my heart. We truly were a family. Most of us had spent our formative years attending elementary through high school together in the small, majority-Black community.
Even though many of us had moved away from our home town and had careers in a wide array of areas, we grew up with the same music and the same values. Our time spent together all those years ago had given us a common culture and a common worldview.
It didn’t matter if several months or several years separated the last time we were all together. Our shared history gave us the grace to comfortably pick right back up from where we left off, five years before.
Everyone can see we’re together
As we walk on by
(FLY!) and we fly just like birds of a feather
I won’t tell no lie
(ALL!) all of the people around us they say
Can they be that close
Just let me state for the record
We’re giving love in a family dose
Ultimately I needn’t have worried about worlds colliding.
- I spent quality time with my Boo, my best friend, my cousin, and my Cardinals.
- My husband coddled me, but I found the strength to be independent when I needed it.
- I enjoyed a leisurely afternoon in a Coco Cay cabana with my husband, best friend, and some of the other alumni. Shore excursion? Check. Time spent with hubby, best friend, and Cardinals? Double check.
- My husband and I fit in a foodie walking tour of Nassau which succinctly satisfied my insatiable need for a tour, shopping, and meeting locals. Bliss.
Cruising isn’t half bad when you have a balcony to relax upon. It’s even better when you have your life-long friends and family close.
My worlds collided and the dissonant melody transformed into a love song for my Cardinals. We are family. Then. Now. Forever.
*Partial lyrics to “We Are Family” by Sister Sledge. Watch the video on YouTube