I am deathly afraid of water. If I am at the beach, I make sure to stay an obnoxious distance away from the ocean. If I’m feeling particularly brave on the day, I’ll plant myself right where the tide recedes, only letting the tips of my toes get wet. I always stay behind as I watch my friends gallivant in the giant waves behind my favorite pair of sunglasses with a book in my hands. I am perfectly fine with the only water in my life being out of a bottle or from a showerhead. Nothing tragic ever happened to me to condone this irrational fear in my eighteen years alive (however, experiences in past lives are unaccounted for), so my mom did not think twice when she surprised us with a Disney Cruise for Christmas.
Another crucial bit of my life—my family has an unhealthy obsession with Disney World and we travel there at least twice a year. I am always looking for any excuse to dive into the magic, but the magic is always on land. My older brother, forever helpful and supportive, told me to “get over it” because we were docking in the Bahamas at Disney’s private island, Castaway Cay. I couldn’t exactly complain, because come on, it is a Disney Cruise. I swallowed my rambling thoughts, quelled the nerves swirling around my heart at thought of being surrounded only by an endless sea, and packed my suitcase of summer clothes despite just having a snow storm in New York.
The ship was extravagantly beautiful, from the gigantic twisting staircase and the hanging gold chandelier in the lobby to the highest deck with the Mickey-shaped swimming pools. The vast array of restaurants all eager to serve free and unlimited food was also incredibly enticing. After an hour aboard and several meet and greets with Goofy, Minnie, and Daisy, I completely forgot about my paralyzing fear. The atmosphere was so hypnotic that the lapping waves did not enter my mind once. My first day was full of melting ice cream cones, animated paintings that actually moved, and plays that were Broadway-caliber. I was blissfully happy, void of any worries.
The ache in my chest didn’t return until we were getting ready to disembark at Castaway Cay. I didn’t want to be a bore—after all I was on vacation—but I was resolute in my decision not to wade into the foreign waters despite the protests from my sister. It wasn’t until I had taken in the picturesque scene around me that I felt the shift within myself. There are a few times in life when you experience a rare moment of complete clarity, and seeing the perfect, wave less, turquoise water in front of me was like waking up from a long and overplayed dream. I wasn’t going to sink to my death when my feet could touch the wet sand below; I was going to be fine and more importantly, I was going to have fun. Needless to say, I got over my fear pretty quickly.
Ashley Dayne Bostwick
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