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August 2019

September 2019

Seasoned Traveler

In 1964, I broke up with my then-boyfriend, quit my job and flew to Lisbon, Portugal alone.  I stayed in Europe for three months.  That did not please my parents.  There wasn’t any email then, and I know they worried. 

After Peter and I were married, the only trip I made to Europe on my own was a work trip to London. Other than that, I traveled abroad with family or friends until earlier this month when I went to a family wedding in Medellin, Colombia without Peter.  Our son Seth was with me on the way down, but I was on my own coming back because he was staying longer. I have to admit that I was a bit anxious. 

I ran into my first problem in the Medellin airport.  I had checked in online, but I could not find any sign that told me what gate my flight to Panama would be leaving from.  Fortunately, a kind customs official literally walked me to my gate.

I had an easier time in the Panama airport. I was able to find my gate on my own.  (It helped that my flight from Panama had arrived at the same gate).  Once I was on the flight home, I felt like   a seasoned single traveler again. 

It’s never too late to step out of your comfort zone.


Five Day Withdrawal

You would think that a country that exports two and a half billion dollars’ worth of coffee annually would have coffee ice cream stands on every corner.  As an every-night consumer of a scoop or two at home, I couldn’t imagine that I would have a problem finding coffee ice cream in Colombia.

Not only did I live without coffee ice cream for five days, I had no ice cream at all.  For a woman whose sophomore year college roommates gave her a gift certificate for five pints of gourmet ice cream on her birthday, this could have been tragic.

To be honest, I couldn’t get enough of arepas and freshly-squeezed fruit drinks in Medellin so that was where I focused my attention.  And all the wedding events had much more spectacular desserts than ice cream.

It helped that our hotel had a huge basket of delicious wrapped coffee candies in the lobby. Every time I walked by, I picked up a new supply.

Although the first thing I did when I got home was hug Peter, the second was to grab a big bowl of you know what. 

It’s good to be home.


Destination Wedding

On May 2nd, I bought a round trip ticket to Medellin, Colombia to fly to a cousin’s forthcoming wedding at the end of August.  On the same day, I bought trip insurance. I didn’t really believe I was going until I was on the Avianca Airlines plane.

Peter was OK with being left on his own.  I was not comfortable about it until we got him a “First Alert” button to call for help, if needed, and multiple friends agreed to check up on him.  Still, I worried.  We hadn’t been apart for six days in our more than fifty-one years of marriage.

Medellin, Colombia is known for its drug wars and poverty. They have a huge influx of Venezuelans fleeing their home country, many of whom are selling candy on the streets holding babies in their arms. But the city sits in a beautiful valley surrounded by the Andes Mountains, and there are some very rich people there too.

The outdoor wedding ceremony took place high above the city, and as the sun went down, lights from the favelas sparkled up and down the opposite mountain.  It was breath-taking.

My cousins and I spent non-wedding-event time seeing some of the city’s best sights, led by Seth (my son and date) who got us on and off the Metro, cable car or whatever like a seasoned guide.

It took me sixteen hours to get home on Tuesday.  The trip insurance was the best money I’ve ever wasted.

 


Back to School

To me, the day after Labor Day is New Year’s Day. When school begins, my calendar year begins.  That’s how it was when I was the student.  Then our kids were the students.  And Peter and I both worked in academia for more than thirty years.  Fall is the year’s beginning to us.

Last week, I decided to walk over to the Farmer’s Market on the Harvard University campus for some end-of-summer corn and maybe some beginning-of-fall apples. I didn’t realize that it was freshman move-in-day.  Harvard Yard (surrounded by freshman dormitories) becomes a parking lot.  Signs warn that you only have twenty minutes to unload the belongings of your member of the class of 2023.  Harvard’s maintenance vehicles can’t keep up with the mountains of empty cardboard boxes on the walkways.

I’ve just finished reading Grown and Flown, a new book that prepares parents for the very event I was observing. I smiled to myself as I recognized the usual emotions that accompany saying good-bye to a child.  I can’t even remember my own college drop-off, but I bet my parents did.

I did notice something different this year.  There were strategically placed police eyeing the crowd.  Thoughts of mass shootings rushed into my head and I quickened my steps.

 

 


Becoming a Caretaker

When we are young and in love, even though we promise “in sickness and in health,” it doesn’t occur to us that when we age, the “in sickness” clause might kick in requiring one of us to become a caretaker, perhaps for years.

Luckily for us, Peter’s Parkinson’s Disease, now twelve years past diagnosis, has progressed slowly and he has been diligent about doing what he could to keep it at bay.  And he is appreciative of all that I do for him. 

About two years ago, I took over all of our driving.  Peter is a great co-pilot and excellent company, but I no longer get to file my fingernails on the way to somewhere. I do all the heavy lifting (thanks to my compulsive weight-program, that’s not too difficult). And more.

Last week I had planned to meet my former hairdresser.  I hadn’t seen Kelly in months, and we agreed to meet at a mall about half-way between our homes.  All details were confirmed.

In the morning Peter’s phone wasn’t working. The glass had shattered (we think from sitting down with his phone and keys in the same pocket) and the phone wouldn’t work at all. There was no way that I would leave him alone without a working phone. I texted Kelly and broke our plans. 

Instead, I spent a good part of the morning getting his phone repaired.  Was I disappointed?  Yes.  Did I let it get me down?  No.

That’s what we caretakers do.