Over Christmas Break 1997, when I was finishing my last year of school at Mills, my Grandmother took me on a cruise from Fort Lauderdale to Acapulco, the entire point of which was the passage through the Panama Canal. Though it was relaxing, to say the least, and a total thrill to see Cuba off the side of the boat, it was full of bluehairs and families with young children and I pretty much had to find ways to make my own fun. And I did.
I had been hanging out with this guy Gentry Bronson at the time, whom I met on a production gig and picked up with the line, ‘Well, you can take a nap in my Jeep anytime,‘ and who had a vast musical background, including a year or two DJing in Prague. Prior to my departure Gentry did me right and made me an awesome mixtape (remember those?) which I tucked into my bag along with my Walkman (ditto).
On the boat, I made friends with this cool redheaded Canadian chick, Connie Lemon, who worked in the gift shop, and she took me below deck to see the crew quarters (a major no-no). One of my fondest memories is of her and I standing at the rail outside the Crow’s Nest bar at the tippy-top of the ship when she suggested we finish our drinks and throw the glasses overboard. I balked for second, feeling environmentally guilty, and she said, ‘Yeah, but think about it – our glasses will be on the bottom of the ocean forever to commemorate this night,’ so we swilled to the last and tossed them over the side, into the white spray. I hope they ended up as homes for some little sea creatures.
I crept around the boat and found all sorts of little hidey holes. In that era of the blockbuster Titanic, the bow of the boat was darkened and generally not open to passengers (probably in an effort to stop any copycat canoodling), though that didn’t stop me. I had been really into this flowy little black and white polka-dot dress at the time, and I remember so vividly going to the bow of the boat in the middle of the night, in that dress, taking my sandals off, putting my headphones on, and dancing to Gentry’s mixtape, all alone while we plowed through the warm Caribbean sea and my skirt swirled around me in the maritime breeze. I remember how the beat of DJ Shadow’s ‘Midnight In A Perfect World’ so perfectly captured the huge rolling waves beneath the boat, and how the vast, horizonless black sky was covered with so many stars it looked as though God had sprinkled powdered sugar all over the ceiling of the world, and there was no one in it but me to see.