It is way too goddamn cold on this goddamn ship.
Granted, the cold would be less bothersome if I wasn’t in a bathing suit, outside, on a deck chair next to a pool, just miles off the coast of San Fran-freaking-cisco where it is a balmy 61 degrees with 30mph winds.
This is my doing, I know it is.
But darnit, I was promised a tropical vacation and I’m going to have one. Which is why when the clouds parted on our first San Francisco day and those shy rays of sunshine peeked through, I didn’t waste a moment: I raced back to my room, changed into one of my brand new never-before-worn swim suits, lathered myself up with sunscreen, and jauntily headed outside.
It was so immediately apparent that this was a mistake.
I realized this when I saw scores of people in pants and sweatshirts, huddled in the warm non-windy corners of the deck, while I walked by in my lacy yellow one-piece and shorts. I realized it more intensely when I set up camp with my book and sunglasses and found that the winds were so biting that I struggled to even keep the book open to the right page, and that my hat was threatening to fly off my head.
But the sun is out, right? The sun is out, and I’m on a cruise ship with a pool, and this is the only vacation I’ve taken all year, and so I am going to SIT on this deck, and TAN in my bathing suit, and no stinkin cold is going to stop me.
Five minutes pass, and I’m starting to get goosebumps. Maybe the cold will actually stop me. Maybe it should, because only a crazy person would stay out here in a bathing suit.
Oh right, I remind myself. I am a crazy person. Rather than packing away my pride and calling it a day, I double down on this statement to the universe: Not only am I not going anywhere, I’m staying for another hour. I’m setting an alarm on my phone. I will not move from this spot until the hour is up.
Now, a word on stubbornness: I may in fact be the most stubborn person you’ll ever meet. I once held out in a fight with my mom for so long that she eventually conceded, but with the declaration “I feel so sorry for your future husband… he better be prepared to lose a lot of arguments.” The absolute only reason I’ve been bungee jumping is because my ex-boyfriend’s stepdad told me I didn’t have the guts to do it (I did it, made someone capture it on video, and showed it to him the very next day). More recently, last week I was in Barnes & Noble with a friend and picked up an interesting-looking medical book. He poked fun at me, saying I would never read it – and I’m proud to report that four days into this cruise, I’m almost halfway through it.
I’m not exactly proud of this fact about myself – it has caused a lot of friction, particularly in my personal relationships. To be frank, I could probably stand to dial this back a bit. But I am, in a way, proud of my ability to stand my ground and prove naysayers wrong.
Here’s another: In school I was a mediocre student, absolutely pouring myself into the subjects that interested me (like English, creative writing, and – oddly – geometry), but would entirely neglect classes I didn’t find interesting (like economics, history, and science). These two roughly cancelled each other out so that naturally, I skated by with a B average and graduated almost smack dab in the middle of my class, with no honors or recognition to speak of.
But once, in my sophomore year of high school, I got into an argument with my friend Chris about teachers allowing notecards on tests. In case you didn’t grow up in American public school, the premise is this: You’re allowed to bring a (usually 3”x5”) notecard with you to the exam, upon which you’ve compiled key vocabulary words, formulas, pneumonic devices, whatever, to assist you on the day of the test.
My position was that this policy was, in fact, a clever trick by teachers: in reviewing all your notes, deciding what’s important, and transcribing it onto a notecard, they’ve fooled you into doing the amount of work necessary to prepare for the test anyway. And, in all likelihood, you wouldn’t even need the notecard at that point to begin with.
Chris disagreed; he said that the notecard concession is necessary for subject matter that requires an intense (and therefore unreasonable) level memorization – and insisted that he absolutely did still use it on the test, even considering all the hours devoted to its creation.
And so, a wager was formed: I bet him $50 that I could take the test without a notecard and get a better score than he would with one. I was sure that if I still put all the effort equivalent to making a notecard, I would still be prepared for the test – and he, defiantly reliant on handwritten scribbles on a small piece of paper, would be vanquished.
I studied hard, and I swear to you I will remember these numbers until my dying day: I got a 94% on the test, and he an 89%. My first purchase with his $50 was tickets to see Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.
The moral of these stories is this: I will do almost anything in the name of defiance.
Which is what brings us back to the deck of the cruise ship – where I sit in a brand new bathing suit, covered in goosebumps, shivering with each new gust of wind and looking longingly at my iPhone timer. 17 more minutes. It is almost certainly getting colder. 11 more minutes. The people around me (the ones in sweatshirts!) are starting to call it – “Do you want to go back inside?” – the deck chairs around me have all been deserted. 8 minutes. Every muscle in my body is tensed against the cold – so much for my massage this morning. 3 minutes.
At long last, the timer goes off – and you have never seen anyone get dressed or run indoors so quickly.
But I did it! I lasted the whole hour. I didn’t get up, I didn’t give in, and gosh darnit I had a full hour of tanning in the sunshine with the cutest little swim suit you ever did see.
Because this is my cruise! And that means I get to have it my way! And if that means being uncomfortable for a bit to check something off my vacation bucket list, so be it. And if I have to, I will do it again (literally or metaphorically) tomorrow.
Nanny nanny boo boo.