Planning a trip like this is an exercise in constant anxiety. Figuring out plane tickets, reservations, schedules, international eSIM card etc. is a chunk of work. Add COVID in, and there’s another level of uncertainty and (necessary) bureaucracy to going anywhere. Throw in leaving jobs for a while, getting things ready for people to stay at the house, and… I’ve been on a very thin rope for a bit.
How thin? Dental floss, maybe. Perhaps fishing line, but that might be too strong. So much so the little things that just happen keep seeming like enormous problems, impossible to solve.
Example 1: A couple of weeks before we left, it came up that in the process of moving, we’d packed the extra keys to my bike lock somewhere, and we couldn’t figure out where they were. Julie and I spent a good hour and a half tearing through packed boxes and drawers in an utterly futile quest to find them. I spiraled out, because what if I lost the one key I had? Disaster, because it’s an OnGuard lock, and nobody but OnGuard can duplicate the keys, and the special code that you can send them to make dupes was on a ring with… the extra keys. Cue Dan, sitting in the front room, staring sadly at the wall for fifteen minutes.
(Still haven’t found ‘em. But I have one key, and the bike is locked up and should be fine)
Example 2: An hour and a half before we were due to leave to the airport, I was showering. In the process of showering, I adjusted the little flow adjuster thing on our showered, and the thing broke – the little ring that has the holes in it popped out a bit, and instead of a pleasing rain of little waterspouts, all of the water just ran backwards down the shower outlet, like a really lame waterfall. I freaked out. There were people coming to live at our place and there would be no shower and the entire trip would be a disaster because I’d made a mistake and that meant I was a total incompetent at everything.
(Talked to Dan, who is staying here, and he was pretty sure that screwing in a new shower head was not something beyond his capabilities. Thanks, Dan!)
Example 3: This morning was wonderful. We are in Fiji. Fiona and I took out a kayak with another couple and a guide, along the coast with the currents and the wind, through a mangrove forest. It was very Heart of Darkness. Fiona pointed out imaginary lava traps and fairy holes. We paddled out over the wreck of a boat, to a tiny island, where we walked over coral and had to rescue a kayak that floated away on the tide. It was magical. Stunning. Wonderful.
And then I lost my sunglasses. Somewhere between pulling the kayak up and going to the pool and coming back to our bungalow, they dematerialized. I hate losing stuff in the best of times, and after all the work I did to get here and try to get things right and be patient with Fiona and all of it it just felt crushing. How could I have been so careless? These were the first good sunglasses I’ve had in a decade, replacing a free pair I’d kept safe for that whole ten years, and in three short days I carelessly threw them somewhere and…gone.
I stewed about it all afternoon. Really stewed, angry at myself.
Then we had dinner and it started pouring. We met the people sitting next to us (she’s a pediatric surgeon, he’s a geriatrician, which is charming), and about then I realized I’d forgotten, momentarily, about those darned sunglasses.
What’s my point? As I get older, I sweat the small stuff more, in that the small stuff sweats me more. I’m incredibly grateful to be here, don’t get me wrong. But maybe one of the points of this trip is to figure out why that’s happening, and see if I can redirect that a bit. Having an outdoor dinner in a titanic thunderstorm sure helps.