"I want to go back on that ship," he'll sleepily whisper just as he opens his eyes for the day.
He hasn't stopped talking about the Disney Magic cruise since we set foot on stable ground — partly because our family members haven't stopped asking about it, but mostly because of the MAGIC and PIXIE DUST and LAZY, LOVELY VACATION. (Maybe that last reason is mine.) It was also the perfect opportunity to check things off my Life List — proving that the simple act of making a list can open our eyes to possible opportunities. There were plenty of reasons why I could have declined the trip: my husband couldn't take off work, it was a busy time for my assignments, I'd be alone with Noah, my sister was super close to her due date and there was a chance I'd miss the birth (40 weeks and counting, and he's still not here), the upcoming holidays made money tight, etc. etc. etc. But I had that List in the back of my mind, and it helped me prioritize what was really important. It made me understand the magnitude of this opportunity — and I grabbed it. Hard. And the great thing about a cruise — a Disney cruise, especially — is that I was able to check a good 10+ things off my list with one single vacation. So here's me checking things off of my Life List — and adding more checks for things that should have been on my Life List, and I'm totally going to add just so I can check them off:
1. Go on a vacation alone with Noah
2012 has been an especially trying year, mostly because my marriage has been at its lowest point — the point where I wonder if we would still be together had I not gotten pregnant, and the answer has, at times, felt obvious and gut-wrenching and unproductive. And there have moments — moments when the people and the walls seem to be closing in, and I have to open the window just to gasp fresh air — when I have this fantasy: I take Noah on an airplane, and we leave. We leave and we're alone and we can breathe. Flight, not fight. This was a chance to play out that fantasy — in the most beautiful environment possible. Just the two of us, breakfast to dinner. And even though we somehow left that ship more bonded than we were going on, I don't think I'll be having that fantasy anymore. Mostly because we missed our life — the people, the walls, the chaos — and we experienced the emptiness of being without the things I've been dreaming of escaping. But it was so nice while it lasted.
2. Be surrounded by water on all sides, with no land in sight.
I specifically didn't put this on my Life List because it was a huge fear — being surrounded by water. But now I'm realizing that I should be trying to face my fears, because this was one of the most surprising experiences I've ever had. Rather than feeling panic (as I assumed), I felt calm. Like we were far away from all the stresses and worries of the world, in our own happy microcosm.
3. Battle my fear of sea sickness.
I wasn't sure I could go on a cruise because I've been prone to sea sickness in the past. And even though I did get incredibly sick on my VERY LAST MORNING, now I know that I can go on another cruise with minimal fear — and some dramamine on hand.
4. Go to the Cayman Islands
Not on my original Life List— but look at it!
5. Climb ancient Mayan ruins (in 2012! Wha'!)
This is something I've wanted to do for as long as I've taken Social Studies classes, so there was no way I was passing up this opportunity. And in December 2012, of all months — the most Mayan-centered time in recent history. Disney doesn't include excursions in the cruise package (it's pretty much the only thing not included), but it was worth every single penny.
6. See a monkey climbing trees in the jungle
I didn't realize this was on my Life List until I was standing under a monkey in the jungle, pointing up with Noah in my arms. (I didn't get any photos of the monkey — womp, womp)
7. Eat as much food as I possibly can, without thinking twice about calories or prices
This isn't on your Life List? Add it, immediately. I'm not one to think about calories as it is (in my former life, yes; not now), but the food on that ship was worth every single bite — and more. And pre-paid food is — without a doubt — the best way to go about eating food. I would have to say that, even beyond the excursions and activities, food is my #1 reason to go on a cruise. FOOD, I say.
8. Dress up like a princess.
Prince and Princess night was our favorite night.
9. Visit all 50 States
Although I didn't get to see much of it, this was an opportunity to check one more state off my list: Texas!
10. Bring Noah to Disney
My Life List actually says "Bring Noah to Disney World" — which is still List-worthy, of course — but we had the complete Disney experience without the headaches and exhaustion. We had a character breakfast, where he met the entire Mickey gang. He met and had conversations with every single princess on the ship, and even had a dance party with the characters, jumping around holding Mickey's hands. There were countless times when we'd pass a character in the hallways — whether it was Goofy coming in from the deck, Tiana floating down the corridor — stopping to talk and wave as she went — or Belle coming in to read stories in the Kids' Club. The characters were accessible and lovely, the activities were endless, but the lines were fairly minimal. To me, that's bringing Noah straight to the magic of Disney.
See more photos from our Disney Magic Cruise.