June 10, 2020
It was my 70th birthday party. I had for a number of years felt that it was new beginning for me, that I was three score and 10, and that was going to be year one, life was going to be different. Then the four months before my 70th birthday, which was in May, I went on a Semester at Sea. I was around the world with 700 students and crew and professors and all of that. I came back because this is very new.
And I made myself a party. I rented tables and I rented everything. I had a chef who was the finalist with in the first season of Top Chef. I had everybody here, and it was the most wonderful party. One of the guests at the party actually heard two people behind her on the bus talking about it. Then the next day, I woke up to the new life, and it never occurred to me that there was nothing to established in my life. That moment, that party was like the culmination of so many things and the end of so many things. That’s why I remember it.
The Semester at Sea – the fact is, it’s wonderful. I got a Groupon for it, 106-day educational voyage. We went around the world on a ship. We started in California on January 9th. We stopped in Hawaii and they said, “Who wants to go to Walmart?” Everybody put up their hands. Then we went to two places in Japan. We went to China. We went to Hong Kong. We went to Vietnam. We went to Burma. We went to India, Mauritius, South Africa, Ghana, Morocco. We ended up in Barcelona.
At each place, we had like five or six days. When I was in Vietnam, I went to Angkor Wat. Every day that we were not in port somewhere was a school day. There were 700 students who had to complete a full load. So it was very taxing for them. It was quite an incredible thing. The last thing I’ll say about it is, I asked one of the people I was friendly with, she’s a professor, what was her favorite place that she had ever gone? Because she had been a number of times. She said the ship!
It was astonishing. I went there, you see, because of this idea that I had. I said, “I will meet people who don’t know me at all, who have no preconception, and I will see who other people think I am.” It was the best of times, and it was the worst of times. I was badly injured in a storm in the Pacific, and I did the whole trip with herniated discs in my neck. Because the ship threw me. It was like a movie. I got up out of bed, and just went across the room until my head hit the door, and I went down.
Then when it actually started hurting a day later, I thought I was having a heart attack because one o’clock in the morning. Anyhow, yes, it was a wonderful adventure and what’s so sad, when I look at the world today, I think, “Gee, I wouldn’t want to go to any of those places much.” I mean when we got to Burma, we were one of the first ships in Burma, but the Rohingya thing was just starting back then.
I also saw Victoria Falls. Who would ever have imagined that I would see Victoria Falls?
Just add to it is the reason that I was able to go on this journey was because I guess I got the offer in August. In March, I had to go to a wedding and I was going to a wedding in Israel. My sister who is sort of agoraphobic wanted to go along. So I shaped my whole trip to her, and she got off the plane and didn’t come. So I was alone, which I hadn’t planned to be. I saw that I could be alone and talk to people. Otherwise, I would never have signed up for this thing, which I was doing alone. Very interesting time.
I also discovered about myself that my whole life I had been sort of living wrong. It’s been a monumental… I was just 77, so in it’s been seven years since that journey. My whole life is upside down!