1:31 p.m. - 2004-03-04
You know what? I love cruising a lot. And it has a lot to do with the boat, the water, the service and hanging out with friends. But mostly... it has to do with my first real grown up love. Massimo. My first cruise, and my first Italian waiter. It was Alaska, 1995. Seven days on land, seven days at sea with Princess. My mom and step-dad were going on the cruise with our cousins (older than my mom). But, my step-dad ended up not wanting to go, and my brother had no desire.
So it was down to me. I really liked the cousins, and knew I'd have a great time. I was 24. Our waiter was Massimo. He was about 35-40, graying, and so very charming. It was love at first sight. He asked me if I wanted to have a drink with him after his shift. I said yes. We met at the top of the stairs in front of the dining room at midnight. He looked at me, then tromped down the stairs. Catching on, I took the stairs on the opposite side, and we met at the bottom.
He took my hand and led me though the hall to a linen closet. We sat on towels and chatted about Opera, school, his life and family in Verona, Italy and his dream of opening up his own restaurant. Then he leaned in and kissed me. I hadn't had a boyfriend since the gay guy in highschool/college. It was a surprise. I was so nervous. I was very shy and not used to dating, no less making out in the closet.
Then someone knocked on the door. It was the room steward needing sheets. So Massimo asked him to walk down the hall, and we slipped out into the now empty dining room, through the kitchen, to the outside pantry. There we made out till the sky lightened up and he had only an hour to sleep until starting his next shift. This went on each evening - sneaking in and out of closets, and dark passage ways. I learned so much about life in those few days. I learned a bit about letting go of childish ideals and letting the love of experience lead me. Massimo taught me how to be a woman, instead of a shy, silly little girl.
When the cruise was over, he gave me his address to send letters to. And thanked me for every moment I had given him. I cried all the way home.
I never did write. I was so afraid that he was playing me that I was embarrassed to write anything to him.
I was on a cruise with Princess 5 years later. I made friends with a waiter from Mexico. Isaias. He was great. He tried to convince me that his wife back home allowed him to have affairs. That is was part of the culture. I've read the literature. And I know that the men tried the convince the women that this was the case. But, no matter what arrangements were made, I was having no part of it. But there were long talks on a secluded back deck with he and his friends. And drinks of Liquor 46 mixed with milk. I found out that he had worked on the Star Princess in 95 with Massimo!
He told me that Massimo was the best man he'd ever met. They were buddies, though not necessarily close. But he knew Massimo, and he was a great man. Not a womanizer, not a whore. But a generous, kind and respectful man. So I had a new regret. I never wrote to him because I suspected that he was not what he appeared, when he as actually better.
I loved him. I still do, really. A little. Every time I hear Andrea Bocelli's song Con te Partiro I sob. It sounds like how I felt at the time.
I'll never forget.