Cruising Together

weezer cruise

We are all a little bit dazed today, having just returned from a cruise to the Bahamas. A cruise may not seem like a likely choice of a vacation for us, but this was a rock cruise- a Weezer cruise to be specific. A boat full of bands and music fans, the climax of which was an epic afternoon show in a secluded cove on an island beach.

weezer show

dolphin

I honestly had no idea what to expect. Julie the cruise director subtly organizing love matches during shuffleboard tournaments on the Lido deck? Trying to navigate our five year old through a gauntlet of smoky casinos and boozy spring breakers?

What I discovered is that our week on the cruise wasn’t about pina coladas in the hot tub (though there certainly were a few) or the basking by the pool (it was surprisingly blustery and cold), but rather about family.

My experience of family has always been a shifting thing, kind of like our time on the boat. Sometimes the wind kicked up and the water roiled navy and white as the deck under me listed from side to side so noticeably that I had to lie down and hold onto my head. Sometimes the ocean was kind and ridiculously turquoise, giving no indication of the whole alien world churning beneath its surface.

Our life is rich with extended family, including the Weezer fam. I confess that I have always secretly enjoyed all the annoying minutiae of traveling as a band. I rarely get impatient when being herded through airports, into buses, into arenas, onto gangplanks. I love being in the midst of the whole motley crew of us: the wives, the come-and-go girlfriends, the kids, the babysitters, the parents, the cranky tour manager (sorry, Stu). Once on board, the always thoughtful and creative fans showered us with cards and tiaras and patches and posters, much of it made with their own hands. As a kid running around the house belting out “Join the Circus” from the musical Barnum, this is what I always hoped my life was going to be. A strange dream, maybe, but I was right- it’s pretty wonderful.

Later that afternoon, we met up with yet more of our “relations” for a reunion that makes me tear up every time I think of it. We have remained close with all of the eight families with whom we traveled to Ethiopia on our adoption trip, but T rarely sees the kids because we all live in different parts of the country. To our delight, a couple of them decided to come sail with us.

boat

superhero cuties

mini golf

I am wary of superimposing my own fantasies of some mystical aspect to their friendship, but objectively, it was pure magic. The kids were beyond thrilled to see each other and kept shouting the things they had in common to literally every passerby who would listen (We were all born in Ethiopia! We all have brown skin! We all have pink parents!). I know that they felt the commonalities extended beyond the obvious, but they didn’t have words for it yet. I’m not sure I do either.

cute

I can only say that there is a deep connection between these kids, and between us, their parents. It is very relaxing for Scott and me to be around the people with whom we shared the most meaningful time in our life. There is so much that is just recognized and understood and doesn’t need to be explained.

My heart is full every time I think of the unbridled joy on their little faces as they ran around the ship deck, upending everyone’s Mai Tais and commandeering the hot tub.

auntie on beach

As the boat rocked me to sleep each night, I was overwhelmed with gratitude for this life of ours, so abundant with music and family.

Thanks to everyone who made the cruise so special.

bahamas

3 Responses to 'Cruising Together'

  1. Ken and Sonia Pattison says:

    Big smile reading your blog just now. You don’t know us at all, but through Scott’s facebook and your blog we know a bit about you and your family, sounds creepy, but let me assure you the reality show that is the Shriners is the real deal, not fake. How do we know this, because was sat a couple rows behind you on the plane from Dallas to JAX. We were at the baggage claim when Scott discovered his luggage was opened up for inspection and the confusion as to where your driver was. Better than that, we saw you regularly on the cruise bringing T all over the ship and enjoying it all. We never came up to you to say hello because it truly did look like a wonderful family moment for you guys and we know how nice that can be. Since you thanked everyone that made the cruise so special – We wanted to thank you for sharing your family with all of us, when T pointed the cruisers t-shirt and said “thats my Dad” how cool was that ? Cheers, Ken & Sonia

    • Jillian says:

      Thank you so much. What a whirlwind. We’re all still recovering! Next time definitely say hi! I’m trying to remember back to arriving at JAX and I’m pretty sure I was hollering at my kid and swearing like a sailor by then… But if you say we were behaving ourselves then I’ll believe you!So glad to have shared the amazing week with you, even from afar.

  2. Stephanie says:

    I’m so happy for you and Tariku that you have a relationship with the families you traveled to Ethiopia with. I am also a parent of an Ethiopian born son and our travel group has been such a support to us. We have such special and unique relationships with those families. We are from different parts of the country but get as many of us together as possible once a year and stay in touch the rest of the year.I keep pictures of the families visible for my son so that he regularly sees and talks about families like ours. Just like you describe the kids shouting out their similarities, I have never met you, but read your blog because I feel a connection to you as a fellow adoptive parent of an Ethiopian child. We are all searching for connection in our lives. Thanks for sharing yours.

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