Homesickness is a concept that has always been so foreign to me. I’ve talked about being an Air Force brat and how growing up all over the place has made answering the question “Where are you from?” more difficult than it should be. I’ve always lived a pretty transient life, going to at least four elementary schools and two different high schools. I’ve lived in 20+ houses/apartments/dorms/cabins. I’ve gotten used to moving away and saying temporary good-byes to family and friends. Even leaving for my first contract on the Carnival Elation was more exciting than sad. It was another new adventure, and I knew I’d see everyone at home again. I was excited to travel. Plus, many of my friends were deployed and we’d be getting home around the same time. For my first contract, I left with a sense of adventure and a youthful heart.
When I left for the Carnival Sunshine, I cried like a baby. I knew that when I got back from my contract, so many of my friends would be gone. Many were moving away or getting deployed, and I had a short list of people who would still be there when I was supposed to get back in January. My heart was breaking thinking about all the holidays I’d miss again, the birthdays, weddings, celebrations.
When I got back from the Elation, it was two months of catching up on seven months of things I missed out on when I had no phone service and unreliable (unnecessarily expensive) internet. I didn’t spend enough time with the people I wanted to see. I didn’t even get to eat everything I wanted to eat. Two months wasn’t nearly enough time at home, and when I was on the plane, in my head, I knew I wasn’t going to truly enjoy myself. My heart just wasn’t in it anymore.
It was further emphasized when I got on the ship and felt very little fellowship. I was looking forward to making friends in all departments, hanging out in crew bar, having nights to
forget remember at crew parties, cramming as many people as possible in one room for cabin parties, leaving anonymous gifts at people’s doors and generally wreaking havoc around the ship. Instead, I discovered the Sunshine is a place where no one goes to crew parties and no one hangs out in crew bar. Most crew members are married, which is great except that means they just go to work and then go back to their cabins together instead of hanging out. Even on a ship with 1000+ co-workers, I felt so lonely. The few friends I did make were leaving in a month, and I knew I would be left feeling even more so once they did.
Don’t get me wrong; people were friendly enough. I had some fun conversations with my fellow campies. I had late nights in crew bar. I had hangouts in cabins and went to a crew party. I made plans with people both on the ship and in port. I had spontaneous hangouts with new friends. I had Game of Thrones watch parties every cruise. I explored the ports and went to shows and did my best to immerse myself in the Sunshine lifestyle. I was my usual happy go lucky self, saying hi to strangers on the way to and from work or while doing my laundry. I learned people’s names and people learned mine. I even sat down with people from different departments for nearly every meal I had in staff mess in the hopes of making some connections, but I was in a literal sea of strangers who had no interest in creating a familial atmosphere. I wasn’t the only one who recognized this, but I seemed to be the only one who cared enough to remove myself from the situation/ship as soon as possible. It was rare for me to have a conversation with someone who actually liked being there. Many of the people I knew had done several contracts and said that this was their least favorite one so far.
Anyone who knows me knows that I love to be social, and I would rather always be surrounded by people than to spend time by myself. If I’m alone for too long, I get anxious, sad and so pathetically lonely. I can’t handle it. Even though I was technically surrounded by 4000+ people in the middle of the open ocean at any given moment, I felt lonelier than ever, and my heart couldn’t handle it. I had people at home telling me to give it time and that it would get better, and I’m sure if I stuck it out, I could have tolerated it and survived my contract, but being the queen of rash decisions that I am, I wasn’t going to force myself into finishing something that my heart wasn’t into anymore. Maybe if I was younger or married to someone who was also working on ships like many of my co-workers were, but I’m pushing 30, and I firmly believe in not wasting time being unhappy. I also think a part of me just didn’t want to be there at all, which prevented me from even wanting to make deep connections with people knowing that I would have to say goodbye to them so soon after meeting them.
The last time I did something like this, I was working at a decent paying job, but I was coming home everyday from work crying because I hated my job so much. After four months of misery, I moved back into my parents’ house, and took a starting position at a hotel that I ended up working at for four years. I was the first promotion at the hotel, I won a brand award and even got to travel to New Orleans and Dallas for business trips. A rash decision turned into something that led me to so much happiness both in and out of the workplace.
There are a few reasons that ultimately led me to terminating my second contract with Carnival, and yes, it may have been a decision made rather quickly, but in my heart, I know it was the right thing to do. I’m incredibly grateful to be going back to my old job, and the fact that the timing lined up the way it did makes me feel even more certain that I made the right decision. I’ve never been so happy to be back in Shreveport surrounded by people who I’m lucky to have as a part of my life. I don’t know what the world has in store for me yet, but for now I’ll be putting away my sea legs and enjoying life shoreside. Miss Pineapple is signing off the ship for the last time, and the next time I step onto a ship, it’ll be as a guest on an actual vacation. Ciao for now!