October 1978

Ruth and Clark Fonda on M/V Odessa


Paul, from the staff on this trip, is 19 years older than me, but I feel closer to him than I have to any man in my life. I first met him last year when he was working here on the Odessa, and I was on the Kazakhstan and our ships were in port at the same time. We spend hours together, and never run out of things to talk about; I love the sound of his voice. He patiently listened to me play the piano, even though I know I suck. Instead of criticizing or, worse, lying by saying it was nice, his advice was that if I was going to play, I should play with feeling, and not just hit the notes. That is probably good advice for life in general. Sometimes I think I’m going through the motions in life, just hitting the notes instead of engaging with feeling. I think it works for him; when he plays guitar and sings Your Song, I feel like it really is mine, just for me. It is like I’ve somehow known him all my life. He wears a chain around his neck with half a heart on it; I guess his has been broken. I have not asked a lot of questions about it; some things I really don’t want to know.

He’s done so much already, and has wonderful dreams for the future. He talks about wanting to one day own a dive shop in Key West. I feel childish even thinking about it, but I can actually imagine a life with Paul. I was born to live in the tropical weather.  I’m hoping to learn to SCUBA dive soon.  I could snorkel all day; it is so peaceful. I know I would love diving even more. Personally, I’d want to own a bar and restaurant and maybe an inn there too. Dive during the day – run the restaurant at night.  I’m not talking about any of this stuff or how I feel out loud because I don’t want to scare him away or freak him out. But, I just want to spend all my time with him. My dad is 14 years older than my mom… not much different. We are practically inseparable in our free time.  My favorite day was just walking hand in hand, wandering through the streets and shops in Barcelona. And when we are together in the tiny bunk bed, it is for the whole night.  I wake up early to get myself back down to my cabin before other people are up.  One day I woke up too late, and had to put on his jeans and t-shirt, and leave my evening gown in his room so it would not be an obvious walk of shame.  He’s a thin guy, so the clothes actually fit me pretty well.  I haven’t given them back yet. Not sure I will.

I’m not feeling so great tonight, so I came back to my cabin before dinner. I have a fever and chills and cramps and I threw up a couple times; probably a stomach bug. Paul came by my cabin to check on me after my mom told him I wasn’t feeling well when he asked where I was. I wish he could have stayed; I miss him.

Click to play Your Song – by Elton John [audiotube id=”xubavlo3CFk”]


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