Fourth Contract

I’m sitting in the Minneapolis airport, charging my phone, and I can hardly believe I’m getting ready to fly to Los Angeles and then to Sydney to start another contract.

When I signed off Serenade in September 2012 I planned to live on land. I got a job at a before and after school day care, another at a shop in the mall, and eventually a third at a Montessori school. I played in a bunch of different bands and groups and had great musical experiences. I bought a bike and got an apartment with one of my best friends. The year and nine months I lived on land was jam packed but fun.

As much I enjoyed life on land and playing with the different people, I could never shake my travel bug. No, it’s more like an addiction. I worked hard every day balancing my jobs and gigs and family and friends, and I’d get busier and busier, until finally I’d book a trip. Some were planned, like weekends to Chicago, Dallas, and Minneapolis to visit friends and family. Others were impulsive, unplanned journeys to places I had never been but always wanted to go – Norway in January, Seattle for spring break. I won’t forget when my friend, Erin, suggested that I join in on her Norway trip. I had been feeling antsy and stuck and told her that I needed to get out, to go somewhere, and she invited me to Norway. I couldn’t believe it at first, but then the more I thought about it, the more I realized i should go. When else would I get the chance to visit Norway with a friend? I got to meet her friends who had studied abroad from Norway in high school, and they made me feel so welcome. That trip, my first of 2014, was an amazing way to start the year.

I went off on a bit of a tangent. In March, while I was in Seattle on my own for a couple days (spent time with Francesca from high school and Marie and Julia from UNI, but planned things so last minute I did my own thing a lot too), I got word from Royal Caribbean that I had a contract offer for the Radiance of the Seas from June 13-December 13. The itinerary included Alaska, Hawaii, Australia, and New Zealand. I immediately wanted to go, and I couldn’t believe I’d get to go to Australia. Still, my lovely indecisive side made the decision difficult. I had just spent a year and a half working and establishing myself in Des Moines. I was excited musically in Des Moines, but I just couldn’t shake the need to travel. I thought of how it’d feel to turn down the contract and live wondering about those places, and I knew I had to take it.

Last June I flew out to Vancouver, British Columbia, and I started what turned out to be one of my best trips yet. The band had a great vibe, we played a lot of different types of music, I saw some amazing places, and I made a close ship family. I tried to say yes to things that I’d normally be afraid to try. I went hiking in Alaska, rode a sea plane over glaciers, went skydiving in Hawaii, started learning the ukulele, and played with kangaroos in Australia. I did karaoke and earned a nickname from the Filipinos (sang FERGALICIOUS at my first karaoke party – turned it to Brooke-ALICIOUS, obviously), and I went to lots if Bollywood parties. I fell in love and made a bunch of great friends.

The thing is, as soon as I signed on last June I felt at home right away. This vacation has been a bit crazy. I was in Des Moines for ten days, I went to Maryland for a week, then I went to London for another week, got home two nights ago, then turned around yesterday and packed for another seven months at sea. Des Moines is my home, and I wish I had more time to see family and friends, but this ship is another sort of home, and I can’t wait to see what happens this contract!

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