I have been on a ridiculous bit of travel the past few days.
And I have to be extremely careful about building proper rest into travel, because if I don’t schedule things correctly, I wind up with a head-to-toe rash, and the next thing I know, I’m waking up on the floor of my office after passing out cold.
I flew into Amsterdam on Friday morning on KLM. KLM, by the way, was the strangest airline. The staff was dressed in what could only be described as ABBA-circa-1974 type outfits. They would only speak Dutch to me, which I suppose was fine because it was a Dutch airline. The food was mind-blowingly awful. Granted, I was a little turned off from the beginning because the starter consisted of: proscuitto, olives, and macadamia nuts. Being a vegetarian who is deathly allergic to olives and macadamia nuts, I was inclined to be wary of anything served after that.
But beyond the near-death experience, the food was objectively bad. Also, I was generally annoyed because I wasn’t receiving any airline miles for the trip. I had, earlier in the week, thrown a tantrum and screamed I would sooner mace myself than fly Delta or any of its partners! After I was told that I was having another “Meredramatic moment” and to let everyone know when I was done so we could get down to business. Once I stopped screaming, the flights had been booked.
So…it was Amsterdam then Dusseldorf. In one day. That, and a lot of toile. I suppose it’s a good thing I’m a massive fan of toile?
The next day, it was on to London, and even in spite of a night in the Toile Palace, I made it to the United Kingdom, in one piece.
As I told PG, I’ve started to love London in a way I never thought I would. I have a number of good friends here; I’m starting to know the place better; I do appreciate the ways Londonners love their city. And, after seven years in New York, there’s a part of me that doesn’t like the New York Meredith I have become.
I’m in the midst of questioning things. This is not to say I’m genuinely asking whether I should leave New York. I have a great deal of faith in New York. But what is faith unless it is constantly being questioned and tested? If one cannot articulate the tenents of one’s belief — the reasons for believing — then what anchors that faith?
I know that there are a lot of things I miss in New York while I am on travel. There are moments in California with my family that I cannot capture; there are moments with friends in New York in which I cannot take part. One thing I do not often discuss was the very raw moment at the end of my marriage when Andrew hurled the barb about the havoc my personal and professional wanderlust had wreaked on our relationship.
He was wrong about a lot of things, but that he was right about the damage I did there was painful.
After arriving in London and having a lovely dinner on Saturday night, I fell into bed and slept like a princess. I woke up the next morning, and went down to the hotel pool — an underground affair deep within the hotel’s luxurious spa. I have this thing for water. It seems whenever I am in transition, whenever I must make decisions or face change, I head directly for a body of water. I am not sure why I feel like I am changing now, but something says that I am. I think it’s more of this emergence from the shitswamp of the last year.
Anyway, because this was a high-end hotel, and I’d not thought to bring a bathing suit, I figured I’d be able to purchase or rent one. Instead, upon inquiry, I was told that they had “disposable” swimsuits available for purchase.
That sounds a little…sketchy, I said.
They do the trick, the spa attendant replied.
A hefty fee later, I was the proud owner of a disposable swimsuit. Which was essentially an opaque plastic baggie with elastic at the arms and legs:
This ridiculousness (which doesn’t even look good in the advertising photo) was clearly not going to deter me from a much-needed swim in a beautiful pool, so I slipped into my grocery sack and dove into the water.
The swim was healing; relaxing; exactly what I’d been needing for longer than I’d known.
I eventually emerged from the pool, and of course, the stupid baggie filled up with water, nearly tearing with the weight and giving me a spare-tire of water around my waist that simply WOULD NOT EMPTY. And I had to laugh, because there I was in public in an incredibly nice hotel pool, literally wearing a Gristedes bag for a swimsuit, walking around looking like a female Mr. Creosote.
But I was happy, suddenly. And I was laughing at myself. Because over the last month or so, I’d crossed the finish line of a marathon with one of my best friends, and watched another of our nearest and dearest cross right behind us. My parents and another bestie had hugged us all at the end. I’d sat with two of the men I’d loved most, with whom I’d had complicated relationships, and they’d stressed how much they just wanted a world of good for me.
And I had been writing about these deeply meaningful, joyful things, yet travelling right past them.
As I stood quite happy to look so incredibly stupid, looking so full and so ready to burst, it struck me that, despite some losses, I had come out much richer for the battles.
Also, in the reflection of the pool, I noticed that I looked remarkably good in a plastic bag.