Today is December 31st, and normally many of us who have the privilege to write for a newspaper either review what happened during the previous year or make predictions about what might happen next year. This column will avoid both. Hopefully, life in Wallingford will continue much as it has, primarily because most of the same people will continue to make their considerable contributions to its well being.
As the State of Connecticut economy continues to sputter along, those volunteer efforts will be ever more important, and I hope to see more people join their ranks. As this space has chronicled recently, many nonprofits that had received and become somewhat dependent upon state grants will see their support either cut severely or disappear altogether. The devastation of this segment of the social service spectrum in our state is real, and it certainly is my hope that the Town of Wallingford will help fill the gap. But it will take more than municipal support as the impact of state funding is also creating difficulties in Town Hall as well. So we will all have to pitch in.
For the next six months, however, I will not be one of those, nor will I have the opportunity to highlight in this column how our fellow townspeople step up to help, because my wife Cathy and I are going to be away. As many of our friends are aware, we are going to fulfill a marriage-long dream. We will board the cruise ship Insignia in Miami on January 3rd and spend the next one hundred and eighty days circumnavigating the planet, returning on July 1st. If all goes as the Oceania Cruise Line brochure lays it out, the ship will take us to eighty-seven ports in forty countries on four continents.
In the last quarter of the 19th century, my great-grandfather owned and operated the bark Hattie Jackson, a sail-driven cargo ship whose home port was Bath, Maine. My grandmother spent several of her teenage years on the ship as well, so perhaps DNA plays a part in my yearning to make this journey. But I think what I want to do most of all is to challenge all the preconceptions, stereotypes and, yes, prejudices that I have developed over a lifetime. That will require keeping an open mind, which in this current political and social environment in which we live ain’t all that easy.
The trip will certainly be light years easier than ones in which my ancestor made his living. He will look down at the luxury of the modern cruise ship we are on and marvel at the changes. The 600-foot Insignia carries 700 passengers, and a crew of almost 400. About a third of those passengers will make the entire journey, with the rest being on board for 3- to 5-week segments.
I write all this as an explanation and an invitation. An explanation as to why I will not be writing this column about Wallingford on a biweekly basis as I have been doing for the past six years or so. But also as an invitation to follow us along as we go. My editor has graciously released me from any deadlines but has suggested that I chronicle parts of the journey when time permits.
I am also going to be writing a blog and posting on Facebook, not so much because I think people will want to know all about what we do, but mostly so that I will have a written and photographic record of the trip. It would be criminal to have invested in this adventure and not remember it six months after we return, which at my vintage is what well would likely happen.
The blog can be found at farfarfrom06492.com. The Facebook posts will be found on the Steve Knight page.
Let me conclude by thanking my wife Cathy for attending to most of the dozens and dozens of details that need to be dealt with when you leave home for six months, and especially to my friends who are stepping in to take care of our home while we are away. I feel honored that we can leave Wallingford with the peace of mind that they are providing.
So off we go. While we will indeed miss our family and our friends, we will be staying in touch through the miracle of modern electronic communications, including the digital version of this newspaper. The world is getting smaller and smaller, they say. We’ll let you know if it really is.
Stephen Knight is a former Wallingford town councilor.