Most stories in Cruise through History are about other people at distant times in history. This is a reflection on a personal moment of the day. After returning from a string of wonderful cruises, and looking toward a year full of bookings, I realized that my future would not include hosting dinner parties at home and decorating with exuberance on the holidays. In my home and rented storage space, ornaments of life were competing for space with my growing travel library. It was decision time.
Just off Interstate 85, halfway between my writing-nook condo in Washington, DC, and my home in western North Carolina, is the mecca of all that is beautiful and collectible in Replacements, Ltd. I bypassed the familiar showroom and entered new terrain in the seller’s entrance. In less than ten minutes the sympathetic, but efficient, seller’s assistant emptied the contents of my car onto a wheeled palate and disappeared into the cavernous building. China, crystal, and ornaments of my life left me faster than my children on their first day of school. I was given a receipt that said, “11 boxes.”
Inside the building there were groups of people huddled over surgical tables quietly “evaluating” the contents of other boxes. They were doing their job. Soon they would be doing an autopsy of the value of my life on those same tables.
As I drove down the highway I thought I might cry. I told my husband to stop at the first Dairy Queen so that I could indulge myself in hot fudge. I did neither. After the first shock of surgical separation from my past, I felt lighter and free.
Experienced travelers can be identified in airports by their small suitcases. It is not that they are better at packing. Rather they know what not to pack. Travel is a mind-expanding, physically exhilarating experience that is only hindered by the drag of too much luggage.
Cruise travelers rarely complain about the size of their cabin. A ship’s cabin is a place to change clothes for the next activity. Even travelers on extended itineraries have no compulsion to move in and furnish their abode. The focus is upon the size of the cabin window or veranda affording a view to the world.
One year ago I jettisoned the full-time office job to allow more time for travel. I emptied my desk one day and boarded a cruise ship the next day. My formerly crammed office was left empty. I do not recall where everything went. I have not missed anything.
Thirteen years ago I cleaned out my judicial chambers and took ten boxes of collected court cases and articles to a tiny basement apartment in Washington, DC. Forced into seclusion by the worst snowstorm in decades, I emerged in the spring with a volume on Cultural Property Law for the American Bar Association. Then I turned the contents of the boxes into compost. Unfortunately, I kept collecting ongoing cases and articles. Thankfully the ABA has supported a 2nd edition. For me this edition is sine die. Ten years from now, when others write the next edition, I will be on a cruise.
My CTH library at home in North Carolina has hundreds of volumes, arranged by continent, collected over years of preparing for trips. As the CTH volumes of stories for travelers are published, the library will shrink. Soon we will sell the big house enabling a move to a smaller, sparely furnished home, somewhere near an airport or cruise ship port.
It should be no surprise to anyone that cruise lines can barely bring new ships into their fleets fast enough to keep up with demand. Cruise guests enjoy all the fun of travel without the baggage of logistical planning. Cruise travelers do not pack maps or a small library of guidebooks and hotel amenities for those hotels that skimp. Cruise guests know where they will sleep each night and how to read the menu. They offload the baggage of routine and responsibility when boarding a ship.
As I spend more time on cruise ships, and traveling generally, I have less of a desire to maintain objects. I still enjoy hosting dinner parties, but now they occur in the ship’s dining room on their china. My photos go into a cloud server until they become illustrations in the CTH books. With less baggage to manage, there is more time for conversation and new experiences.
I hope that collectors will enjoy acquiring the accouterments of my past from Replacements.com, as I hope that travelers will enjoy reading the stories in Cruise through History acquired through Amazon.com. Meanwhile, I will be culling non-cruise wear from my closets.