When you feel ill while traveling, there is an inner battle raging, physically and mentally. You've come all this way to see what a place has to offer. Look, you think to yourself, look at the way the bricks on the church are darker as they reach the top, whether and moss attacking what used to be the brighter red bricks from the base, almost like the church is reaching through hell to get to heaven. Then you think, I wonder if there is a bathroom nearby, contemplating the time and distance you could endure until you get there.
You think, walking here on this bridge with my husband is made all the sweeter because it is shackled with locks of lovers who walked here before attached to every curl and rod of the railing. This is an experience we share together with these other couples who have stood right here and kissed as they tossed the key over the edge into the river where it joined all the other abandoned escape hatches. Then you think, wasn't there a bench back there, I need a sit.
You think, isn't that another church steeple a few streets down, let's go see it. Then you think, Second thought, the hotel is just a few blocks the other way, I need a nap.
You think, We are in Germany. Germany! We must have Haagan Daas ice cream. Is Haagan Daas even from Germany? I love Haagan Daas, close enough. Then you think, That was a terrible idea, I need a bathroom.
Airport Cancellation Line
Bonding happens in a rebooking line after your flight has been cancelled. These people, too, have been thwarted in their journey to your relatively common destination. I've never been in a war, but it feels to me like a war zone I have read about. The two sides amassed at the front lines, one side scrambling and dashing to keep the other side, larger and grumpier, at bay. Rumors and whispers fly around the ranks about other flights and airplane parts and times that things may or may not be happening. War stories are told of other cancelled flights and trials born in travel. Some people brag about their full passports and the frequent flyer miles they have waiting for them back home while others rage silently at connections they will never make. However in this war, those in the first wave stand a better chance than those way back in the ranks, seats on earlier flights dropping quickly. It really isn't that the airline company and workers have become your enemy but that the people in line with you become fellow warriors. I mean what kind of enemy hands out Coke Light and pretzels to their foes in the midst of battle?
Today in the cancellation line I stood next to a woman who lived in Germany but was headed home with her new Greek boyfriend to Oklahoma City. They were going to miss their connection out of Chicago, as was I. He was going to meet her family for the first time, a smile clear on his face. "I'm just happy to be going on vacation," he said. She and I never would have met if we hadn't spent over an hour together in that rebooking line. We bonded because neither of us are the type to get angry or upset in these situations, but both of our mothers are. We were both there, already waiting in the line when the official cancellation was announced and the entire waiting area rose in unison and walked toward the rebooking kiosk. We defended our place in line together, holding ranks tightly when they removed those line divider things causing a lot of people to cut us in line. We had some laughs, some grumbles and then it was my turn and I got my new flight information and that was it. I walked away with nothing more than a quick good luck as it was now her turn on the front line.
There are so many trees in Germany. They are bright yellow green with springtime and dewy from the rain. They line the streets and cover the hills and in the touristy areas of town the benches and light fixtures and brick walkways designs are designed around their trunks and limbs. Granted, the place we live now is the steppe, devoid of almost any green living thing not artificially transplanted to the area, and with only a few of those. We are thirsty for trees, for the cosiness of a forest that you can never feel on the steppe and today we drank to excess. We found a path that led into the forest and listened to the sound of it. In the forest the wind sounds like leaves. In the steppe it sounds like squealing cracks in windows and doors. We saw a deer and birds and beetles and small clovers popping up boldly in the middle of the walking path, like this year they may survive the shoes and hooves and paws and tires. I hope they will.
Fiesta of Forgotten Items
It is usually someone else who tells me I've left something at their house. They call or text and tell me they found my red toiletries bag in the bathroom or my charging cord by the computer or both. That's what happened today. We discussed the situation briefly, examining the contents of the bag mentally in order to assess our ability to do without the toothbrushes, the facial soap, the birth control pills. We decided to have them overnight it to Denver where we could pick it up the next day and took off to stay at our cousins home close to the airport for an early flight the next day. A quick stop at my aunts house on the way to meet their new dog and sit in their beautiful home was just enough time for us to get another text about my purse, left behind in the flurry of worrying about the red toiletries bag. Another mental assessment: cough drops, ipad, passports. We were leaving our own trail of breadcrumbs, apparently, luring us back to the homes of our friends and family. A subconscious refusal to leave, perhaps. Back down to pick up the bags and a change of plans, now with a very early morning to catch the train to the airport. Another text at the airport about glasses left in the car and a "perfect fiesta" of leaving things. Double check the glasses on my face, still there. Hooray, I thought, I'm not the only one at the fiesta.