People used to ask us if we thought cruising would make Maia weird.
Well, they didn’t ask in those exact words. But I could tell by the careful, “how will you educate her?” and “how will she manage to make friends?” and “will she fit in when she gets back?” that the real question was, “how can a child grow-up to be normal without regular visits to the mall?”
This never used to worry me.
Until we went to the mall.
The mall visit actually had nothing to do with Maia other than we brought her along on the adventure. Yes, when you are visiting a strange town and going to the mall consists of dinghy driving down waterways in the hopes of travelling through a lock to a canal beside the mall where you will attach your boat to a ?? —it counts as an adventure. Especially because this was no ordinary trip to the mall. This was the ‘reintegrating back into society’ trip, which we were doing in company.
|the lock seemed like a great idea until we realized we needed a pass card...|
When you cross the Pacific in some ways it is a solo effort but in other ways it is like summer camp. Almost every activity is done en masse. We troop to the shops together, eat in a crowd, climb mountains in groups and repair things in company. So when it’s time for a haircut, shoes, and (God forbid) a tie—it’s a party. Everyone takes part.
|Micheal skipped the new duds but got an Aussie haircut in solidarity--thus the hat|
I’m not sure what the shopkeepers thought as we assembled (wives, kids, supportive friends, curious strangers) by the change rooms and helped Evan and Steve choose clothes—from knickers on out. The men themselves seemed a little bleak at their purchases and more than a little shocked that two-years in flip flops could have such a shocking affect on their shoe size.
The kids though were truly odd.
They’ve learned to interact in the world differently and the mall was a curiosity more than anything—like archaeological ruins, or an unfamiliar village. It wasn’t a place to covet things they didn’t need but a place to sit on Santa’s knee (and not worry if they’d out grown it), and see how all the kiddie rides work, and admire the books in the book store and make note of ones they hope to find in an exchange somewhere... It was fun, Maia says, but not the sort of place you can go to over and over.
Not like a beach.
It will take some time—this being back in society thing. It’ll take time for Evan to recover from his Aussie hair cut and time for his new shoes to stop pinching. It’ll take time for Maia to learn what ‘normal’ looks like and find a way to fit in. It’ll take time for our friends to stop waking to check the anchor and realize houses can’t drag. It’ll take time for the magic to fade to a memory and become again a siren song so alluring we can’t help but sail away.